Holding the Darkness

When we try to live in solidarity with the pain of the world—and do not spend our lives running from necessary suffering—we will surely encounter various forms of “crucifixion.” Many say pain is merely physical discomfort, but suffering comes from our resistance to, denial of, and our sense of injustice or wrongness about that pain. This is the core meaning of suffering on one level or another, and we all learn it the hard way.

As others have said, pain is the rent we pay for being human, but suffering is to some degree optional. The cross was Jesus’s voluntary acceptance of undeserved suffering as an act of total solidarity with all the pain of the world. Deep reflection on this mystery can change your whole life. It seems there is an inherent negative energy or resistance from all of us, whenever we are invited to a more generous response. Yet this is the necessary dying that the soul must walk through to go higher, further, deeper, or longer. The saints called these dyings “nights,” darkness, unknowing, doubt. This is when you grow—but “in secret.”

Our secular world has almost no spiritual skills to deal with this now, so we resort to addictions, and other distractions to get us through our pain and sufferings. This does not bode well for the future of humanity. Only truly inspired souls choose to fully jump on board this ship of life and death. The rest of us waste our time blaming or playing the victim to our own advantage.

Without the inner discipline of faith (“positive holding instead of projecting”) most lives end in negativity, blaming others, or deep cynicism—without even knowing it. Jesus hung in the crucified middle and paid the price for all such reconciliation (Ephesians 2:13–18); he then invited us to do the same, and showed us the outcome—which is resurrection!

Adapted from Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi, pp. 21-22