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The Night Office: Loss, Darkness, and the Practice of Solidarity

Douglas E. Christie

What does it mean to enter the night? This question has long haunted the Christian mystical tradition. There, entering the night almost always means accepting uncertainty, insecurity, and loss as inevitable and necessary, part of what it is to come to know ourselves in God and in relation to one another. In our own time, amid increasingly acute encounters with loss, suffering, and insecurity, the language of darkness is taking on new meaning and significance. In this essay, I consider what it might mean to retrieve traditions of spiritual darkness as part of a transformative spiritual practice. How might such practice help us cultivate the courage and empathy to engage the profound loss and unknowing that has become so pervasive in our world and to stand in solidarity with those who suffer and struggle there? How might it help us become, in the words of Pope Francis, more “painfully aware”?

 
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