Rowan Williams on the dark night of the soul

The dark night is God’s attack on religion. If you genuinely desire union with the unspeakable love of God, then you must be prepared to have your “religious” world shattered. If you think devotional practices, theological insights, even charitable actions give you some sort of a purchase on God, you are still playing games. On the other hand, if you can face and accept and even rejoice in the experience of darkness, if you can accept that God is more than an idea that keeps your religion or philosophy or politics tidy — then you may find a way back to religion, philosophy, or politics, to an engagement with them that is more creative because you are more aware of the oddity, the uncontrollable quality of the truth at the heart of all things. This is what “detachment” means — not being “above the battle,” but being involved in such a way that you can honestly confront whatever comes to you without fear of the unknown. It is a kind of readiness for the unexpected, if that is not too much of a paradox.

from A Ray of Darkness, (Cowley, 1995), 82.

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