Dark Night of the Soul

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Joe: Good afternoon Calliope.

Calliope: Good afternoon Joe. You said last time you would share what you are writing about in your new book on stress. I am curious about the Dark Night of the Soul. Please enlighten me.

Joe: I would be happy to do so. Rather than talking about it. I will share with you a selection from my book which I also published recently as a newsletter. Here goes:

Navigating the Dark Night of the Soul

Shuttle Cockpit

Shuttle Cockpit

 Your dark night is your invitation to become a person of heart and soul.

 ~Thomas Moore~

 John of the Cross, a sixteenth century Carmelite mystic, coined the term dark night of the soul. He saw it as a process of purification in which we root all the dead wood out of our lives and concentrate on becoming the person we want to be.

Thomas Moore, in his book Dark Nights of the Soul: a Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals, sees dark nights as periods of transformation. It is not always clear what the transformation might entail, where we will end up and how we or others might benefit from our trial.

We don’t choose our dark nights. They choose us, appearing unexpectedly when we least expect them. As you might have gathered, dark nights are no fun. They disrupt the ordinary course of our lives, giving us a chance to reevaluate where our life is headed should we choose to do so.

We feel suddenly buried in an avalanche of troubles. We might be overcome by grief, feeling suddenly lost on our life path or abandoned by someone on whom we deeply relied.

Medically, we might view a dark night as a state of depression. In our cultural haste to return to normal, we might rush to the doctor for antidepressant medication. We want to get this experience behind us as quickly as possible.

Taking this path, we miss an opportunity. A disruption in our daily living pattern stops us from business as usual. We try to fit in all the activities in which we have become entangled. With a break in the action, we have a chance to consider whether we are still on our life path or have wandered into the brambles.

Without such a disruption, we might continue along, trying to keep up with the frenetic pace of our current society. We don’t seem to have time to think these days about our lives and what course they are taking. A dark night stops us in our tracks and gives us the opportunity for self reflection. Instead of viewing our predicament as a tragedy and just feeling sorry for ourselves, we have a chance to make a course correction in our lives.

We might learn that we are doing pretty well staying on the course we have set for ourselves. We could find that we have forgotten how we would like to live our lives. At the very least we might discover that we do not have the best ways of coping with misfortune. Maybe this is your first major disaster and you have no idea what to do now. Now is the time to discover who we can count on when we are in trouble. It’s also a time to learn some new skills we can use in future life challenges.

Life Lab Lessons

  • If you are suffering a major life trial, be thankful for the opportunity.
  • Use it to see where you have been and where you want to go in life.
  • Don’t feel sorry for yourself in troubled times.
  • Don’t look for someone to blame.
  • Take charge of your life.

Calliope: Thanks for sharing I am looking forward to more.

Joe: will be glad to oblige. In the meantime if your friends want to see my newsletters, they can find them and/or subscribe for free at www.eepurl.com/mStpP.






Stress and Spirituality

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Passionist Memorial

Passionist Memorial

Joe: Good morning, Calliope.

Calliope: Good morning Joe. How is your book on stress coming?

Joe: I am happy with my progress. I am up to sixty pages now and moving along nicely.

Calliope: What part of stress are you working on now?

Joe: I just finished my chapter on spiritual stress and am now working on the joy of stress.

Calliope: Tell me about spiritual stress. I don’t think I have ever heard of it.

Joe: Probably not. It is not discussed much. You always hear about stress on the body and on the mind and emotions. Somehow the spiritual aspect is not as popular a topic.

Calliope: What do you have to say about it?

Joe: I first distinguish between religion and spirituality. Then I look at how stress affects one’s spiritual or religious outlook. I also consider how religion can add to stress when it becomes institutionalized.

Calliope: That sounds interesting. Was it hard to write?

Joe: Yes and no. I have had some personal experiences with my years in the seminary and monastery as well as two very good references, Elizabeth Lesser’s book The New American Spirituality and Thomas Moore’s book  Dark Nights of the Soul. The hard part was organizing what I had to say and making it coherent. Since the book is still in draft form and I have not gotten any feedback yet, I am not sure how successful I was in writing it. That remains to be seen. Next time I will tell you about the joy of stress.

Stress and the Mind

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Organizing in the sand

Organizing in the sand

Joe: Good morning, Calliope.

Calliope: Good morning Joe. How goes the writing?

Joe: Well, thank you. I have completed 45 pages of my book on stress. So far I have finished the foreword and chapters one through five.

Calliope: Where are you now?

Joe: I just finished my draft of a chapter on stress and the mind and am now working on stress and feelings/emotions.

Calliope: Is this chapter on feelings or emotions or feelings and emotions.?

Joe: Good question. I got to thinking about the difference between feelings and emotions and realized I was not sure whether they were the same thing or differed somehow.

Calliope: What did you discover?

Joe: I did some research and found that most people writing about the relationship between the two had very firm ideas.

Calliope: Did that help?

Joe: Not in the least. the entrenched ideas were quite contradictory. Some thought they were the same thing. Others thought feelings were physical and emotions mental and some thought just the opposite. That’s as far as I got and haven’t reached a conclusion about the matter myself.

Calliope: A conundrum.

Joe: To say the least. Sometimes I need to let things percolate in my mind before I know how to proceed. I guess I will take that approach. I will let you know what happens.

Onward with Stress

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Chaos and Stress


Joe: Good afternoon Calliope.

Calliope: Good afternoon Joe. How is your stress book coming?

Joe: No complaints. Now that I am down to the meat of it, I find I need to take some time to organize sections of the book as well as individual chapters.

Calliope: What chapter are you working on now?

Joe: I am currently deep in the jungle of stress we don’t choose, which I have chosen to call sneaky stress.

Calliope: What is it about?

Joe: The events and circumstances in life which we did not anticipate but fin surrounding us like a bog, making it hard to get one foot in front of the other.

Calliope: Sounds awful.

Joe: It’s no fun. I am in the part of the book where I catalog at least some of the circumstances leading to stress and how to at least recognize them.

Calliope: Keep plodding through the bog.

Joe: It helps to blog the bog. Talk with you later.

Moving along with stress

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Engine 999

Engine 999

Joe: Good morning, Calliope.

Calliope: Good morning Joe. How goes the new book on stress?
Joe: I am not stressed out by it which is good. I have been gathering references and thinking of things to add.
Calliope: Do you have an outline?
Joe: I had a general one in mind, but as I wrote it became clearer in my mind. I now have a pretty clear road map to guide my writing.
Calliope: Sounds exciting.
Joe: It is. I woke up several times last night with new ideas and read about stress and diabetes.
The wheels are turning and I am rolling down the tracks.
Calliope: Good. Keep going.
Joe: I am happy so far and seem to be on a roll. Talk with you later.

Cronichling Stress

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Martha's Vineyard Aquinnah Lighthouse

Aquinnah Lighthouse- Martha’s Vineyard

Joe: Good afternoon Calliope. Up for a little chat?
Calliope: Indeed. Any progress with your idea about a book on stress?
Joe: Yes. I thought about it for a while,did some research and took some notes. But still I had nor really started the book.
Calliope:Are you stuck?
Joe: I thought I might be. I wasn’t sure quite where to start with such a big topic.
Calliope: So what did you do?
Joe; What I always do. I just started writing about what I wanted the book to be and called it a Foreword. Then I started in on chapter one and continued on to chapter two which I completed this morning, in draft form of course.
Calliope: Great! You did the hardest part.
Joe: I agree. Getting started is always the hardest part for me. Now that I have started I feel on a roll and don’t expect the next few sessions of writing to be as difficult.
Calliope: Don’t let me keep you from it. Back to work!
Roger. Over and out.

Ready to get back to writing

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.Joe: Good afternoon Calliope.
Calliope: Good afternoon Joe. Back from your travels?
Joe: Yes. I had another great month in Florida. A bit cooler than last year, but a pleasant change from the Northeast.
Calliope: Now what?
Joe: I was waiting to thaw out. But I guess that will take a while. I wrote a newsletter last week about stress and had much more to say than I could in the allotted space.
Calliope: So what do you plan to do about it?
Joe: I gave it some thought and decided to write a book about stress. I wrote down a list of related ideas and then sat down to write. At least I have a start.
Calliope: Great. Glad to see you are back to work. 
Joe: Thanks. I feel I have reestablished a purpose in life after lying fallow (happily) for some time.
Calliope: I hope you enjoy the process.
Joe: I do and I will keep you posted on my progress.

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