John, Dark Night 2 8


Of other pains which afflict the soul in this state.

1 BUT there is another thing here that afflicts and distresses the soul greatly,which is that, as this dark night has hindered its faculties and affectionsin this way, it is unable to raise its affection or its mind to God, neithercan it pray to Him, thinking, as Jeremias thought concerning himself, thatGod has set a cloud before it through which its prayer cannot pass.(135)For it is this that is meant by that which is said in the passage referredto, namely: 'He hath shut and enclosed my paths with square stones.'(136)And if it sometimes prays it does so with such lack of strength and of sweetnessthat it thinks that God neither hears it nor pays heed to it, as this Prophetlikewise declares in the same passage, saying: 'When I cry and entreat, Hehath shut out my prayer.'(137) In truth this is no time for the soul to speakwith God; it should rather put its mouth in the dust, as Jeremias says, sothat perchance there may come to it some present hope,(138) and it may endureits purgation with patience. It is God Who is passively working here in thesoul; wherefore the soul can do nothing. Hence it can neither pray nor payattention when it is present at the Divine offices,(139) much less can itattend to other things and affairs which are temporal. Not only so, but ithas likewise such distractions and times of such profound forgetfulness ofthe memory that frequent periods pass by without its knowing what it hasbeen doing or thinking, or what it is that it is doing or is going to do,neither can it pay attention, although it desire to do so, to anything thatoccupies it.

2. Inasmuch as not only is the understanding here purged ofits light, and the will of its affections, but the memory is also purgedof meditation and knowledge, it is well that it be likewise annihilated withrespect to all these things, so that that which David says of himself inthis purgation may by fulfilled, namely: 'I was annihilated and I knew not.'(140)This unknowing refers to these follies and forgetfulnesses of the memory,which distractions and forgetfulnesses are caused by the interior recollectionwherein this contemplation absorbs the soul. For, in order that the soulmay be divinely prepared and tempered with its faculties for the Divine unionof love, it would be well for it to be first of all absorbed, with all itsfaculties, in this Divine and dark spiritual light of contemplation, andthus to be withdrawn from all the affections and apprehensions of the creatures,which condition ordinarily continues in proportion to its intensity. Andthus, the simpler and the purer is this Divine light in its assault uponthe soul, the more does it darken it, void it and annihilate it accordingto its particular apprehensions and affections, with regard both to thingsabove and to things below; and similarly, the less simple and pure is itin this assault, the less deprivation it causes it and the less dark is it.Now this is a thing that seems incredible, to say that, the brighter andpurer is supernatural and Divine light, the more it darkens the soul, andthat, the less bright and pure is it, the less dark it is to the soul. Yetthis may readily be understood if we consider what has been proved aboveby the dictum of the philosopher--namely, that the brighter and the moremanifest in themselves are supernatural things the darker are they to ourunderstanding.

3. And, to the end that this may be understood the more clearly,we shall here set down a similitude referring to common and natural light.We observe that a ray of sunlight which enters through the window is theless clearly visible according as it is the purer and freer from specks,and the more of such specks and motes there are in the air, the brighteris the light to the eye. The reason is that it is not the light itself thatis seen; the light is but the means whereby the other things that it strikesare seen, and then it is also seen itself, through its reflection in them;were it not for this, neither it nor they would have been seen. Thus if theray of sunlight entered through the window of one room and passed out throughanother on the other side, traversing the room, and if it met nothing onthe way, or if there were no specks in the air for it to strike, the roomwould have no more light than before, neither would the ray of light be visible.In fact, if we consider it carefully, there is more darkness where the rayis, since it absorbs and obscures any other light, and yet it is itselfinvisible, because, as we have said, there are no visible objects which itcan strike.

4. Now this is precisely what this Divine ray of contemplationdoes in the soul. Assailing it with its Divine light, it transcends the naturalpower of the soul, and herein it darkens it and deprives it of all naturalaffections and apprehensions which it apprehended aforetime by means of naturallight; and thus it leaves it not only dark, but likewise empty, accordingto its faculties and desires, both spiritual and natural. And, by thus leavingit empty and in darkness, it purges and illumines it with Divine spirituallight, although the soul thinks not that it has this light, but believesitself to be in darkness, even as we have said of the ray of light, whichalthough it be in the midst of the room, yet, if it be pure and meet nothingon its path, is not visible. With regard, however, to this spiritual lightby which the soul is assailed, when it has something to strike--that is,when something spiritual presents itself to be understood, however smalla speck it be and whether of perfection or imperfection, or whether it bea judgment of the falsehood or the truth of a thing--it then sees and understandsmuch more clearly than before it was in these dark places. And exactly inthe same way it discerns the spiritual light which it has in order that itmay readily discern the imperfection which is presented to it; even as, whenthe ray of which we have spoken, within the room, is dark and not itselfvisible, if one introduce a hand or any other thing into its path, the handis then seen and it is realized that that sunlight is present.

5. Wherefore, since this spiritual light is so simple, pure and general, not appropriatedor restricted to any particular thing that can be understood, whether naturalor Divine (since with respect to all these apprehensions the faculties ofthe soul are empty and annihilated), it follows that with great comprehensivenessand readiness the soul discerns and penetrates whatsoever thing presentsitself to it, whether it come from above or from below; for which cause theApostle said: That the spiritual man searches all things, even the deep thingsof God.(141) For by this general and simple wisdom is understood that whichthe Holy Spirit says through the Wise Man, namely: That it reaches wheresoeverit wills by reason of its purity;(142) that is to say, because it is notrestricted to any particular object of the intellect or affection. And thisis the characteristic of the spirit that is purged and annihilated with respectto all particular affections and objects of the understanding, that in thisstate wherein it has pleasure in nothing and understands nothing in particular,but dwells in its emptiness, darkness and obscurity, it is fully preparedto embrace everything to the end that those words of Saint Paul may be fulfilledin it: Nihil habentes, et omnia possidentes.(143) For such poverty of spiritas this would deserve such happiness.


How, although this night brings darkness to the spirit, it does so in orderto illumine it and give it light.

1 IT now remains to be said that, although this happy night brings darknessto the spirit, it does so only to give it light in everything; and that,although it humbles it and makes it miserable, it does so only to exalt itand to raise it up; and, although it impoverishes it and empties it of allnatural affection and attachment, it does so only that it may enable it tostretch forward, divinely, and thus to have fruition and experience of allthings, both above and below, yet to preserve its unrestricted liberty ofspirit in them all. For just as the elements, in order that they may havea part in all natural entities and compounds, must have no particular colour,odour or taste, so as to be able to combine with all tastes odours and colours,just so must the spirit be simple, pure and detached from all kinds of naturalaffection, whether actual or habitual, to the end that it may be able freelyto share in the breadth of spirit of the Divine Wisdom, wherein, throughits purity, it has experience of all the sweetness of all things in a certainpre- eminently excellent way.(144) And without this purgation it will bewholly unable to feel or experience the satisfaction of all this abundanceof spiritual sweetness. For one single affection remaining in the spirit,or one particular thing to which, actually or habitually, it clings, sufficesto hinder it from feeling or experiencing or communicating the delicacy andintimate sweetness of the spirit of love, which contains within itself allsweetness to a most eminent degree.(145)

2. For, even as the children of Israel, solely because they retained one single affection andremembrance--namely, with respect to the fleshpots and the meals which theyhad tasted in Egypt(146)--could not relish the delicate bread of angels,in the desert, which was the manna, which, as the Divine Scripture says,held sweetness for every taste and turned to the taste that each onedesired;(147) even so the spirit cannot succeed in enjoying the delightsof the spirit of liberty, according to the desire of the will, if it be stillaffectioned to any desire, whether actual or habitual, o r to particularobjects of understanding, or to any other apprehension. The reason for thisis that the affections, feelings and apprehensions of the perfect spirit,being Divine, are of another kind and of a very different order from thosethat are natural. They are pre-eminent, so that, in order both actually andhabitually to possess the one, it is needful to expel and annihilate theother, as with two contrary things, which cannot exist together in one person.Therefore it is most fitting and necessary, if the soul is to pass to thesegreat things, that this dark night of contemplation should first of allannihilate and undo it in its meannesses, bringing it into darkness, aridity,affliction and emptiness; for the light which is to be given to it is a Divinelight of the highest kind, which transcends all natural light, and whichby nature can find no place in the understanding.

3. And thus it is fitting that, if the understanding is to be united with that light and become Divinein the state of perfection, it should first of all be purged and annihilatedas to its natural light, and, by means of this dark contemplation, be broughtactually into darkness. This darkness should continue for as long as is needfulin order to expel and annihilate the habit which the soul has long sinceformed in its manner of understanding, and the Divine light and illuminationwill then take its place. And thus, inasmuch as that power of understandingwhich it had aforetime is natural, it follows that the darkness which ithere suffers is profound and horrible and most painful, for this darkness,being felt in the deepest substance of the spirit, seems to be substantialdarkness. Similarly, since the affection of love which is to be given toit in the Divine union of love is Divine, and therefore very spiritual, subtleand delicate, and very intimate, transcending every affection and feelingof the will, and every desire thereof, it is fitting that, in order thatthe will may be able to attain to this Divine affection and most lofty delight,and to feel it and experience it through the union of love, since it is not,in the way of nature, perceptible to the will, it be first of all purgedand annihilated in all its affections and feelings, and left in a conditionof aridity and constraint, proportionate to the habit of natural affectionswhich it had before, with respect both to Divine things and to human. Thus,being exhausted, withered and thoroughly tried in the fire of this darkcontemplation, and having driven away every kind(148) of evil spirit (aswith the heart of the fish which Tobias set on the coals(149)), it may havea simple and pure disposition, and its palate may be purged and healthy,so that it may feel the rare and sublime touches of Divine love, whereinit will see itself divinely transformed, and all the contrarieties, whetheractual or habitual, which it had aforetime, will be expelled, as we are saying.

4. Moreover, in order to attain the said union to which this dark night isdisposing and leading it, the soul must be filled and endowed with a certainglorious magnificence in its communion with God, which includes within itselfinnumerable blessings springing from delights which exceed all the abundancethat the soul can naturally possess. For by nature the soul is so weak andimpure that it cannot receive all this. As Isaias says: 'Eye hath not seen,nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, that whichGod hath prepared, etc.'(150) It is meet, then, that the soul be first ofall brought into emptiness and poverty of spirit and purged from all help,consolation and natural apprehension with respect to all things, both aboveand below. In this way, being empty, it is able indeed to be poor in spiritand freed from the old man, in order to live that new and blessed life whichis attained by means of this night, and which is the state of union withGod.

5. And because the soul is to attain to the possession of a sense, andof a Divine knowledge, which is very generous and full of sweetness, withrespect to things Divine and human, which fall not within the common experienceand natural knowledge of the soul (because it looks on them with eyes asdifferent from those of the past as spirit is different from sense and theDivine from the human), the spirit must be straitened(151) and inured tohardships as regards its common and natural experience, and be brought bymeans of this purgative contemplation into great anguish and affliction,and the memory must be borne far from all agreeable and peaceful knowledge,and have an intimated sense and feeling that it is making a pilgrimage andbeing a stranger to all things, so that it seems to it that all things arestrange and of a different kind from that which they were wont to be. Forthis night is gradually drawing the spirit away from its ordinary and commonexperience of things and bringing it nearer the Divine sense, which is astranger and an alien to all human ways. It seems now to the soul that itis going forth from its very self, with much affliction. At other times itwonders if it is under a charm or a spell, and it goes about marvelling atthe things that it sees and hears, which seem to it very strange and rare,though they are the same that it was accustomed to experience aforetime.The reason of this is that the soul is now becoming alien and remote fromcommon sense and knowledge of things, in order that, being annihilated inthis respect, it may be informed with the Divine--which belongs rather tothe next life than to this.

6. The soul suffers all these afflictive purgations of the spirit to the end that it may be begotten anew in spiritual life by means of this Divine inflowing, and in these pangs may bring forth the spiritof salvation, that the saying of Isaias may be fulfilled: 'In Thy sight,O Lord, we have conceived, and we have been as in the pangs of labour, andwe have brought forth the spirit of salvation.'(152) Moreover, since by meansof this contemplative night the soul is prepared for the attainment of inwardpeace and tranquillity, which is of such a kind and so delectable that, asthe Scripture says, it passes all understanding,(153) it behoves the soulto abandon all its former peace. This was in reality no peace at all, sinceit was involved in imperfections; but to the soul aforementioned it appearedto be so, because it was following its own inclinations, which were for peace.It seemed, indeed, to be a twofold peace--that is, the soul believed thatit had already acquired the peace of sense and that of spirit, for it founditself to be full of the spiritual abundance of this peace of sense and ofspirit--as I say, it is still imperfect. First of all, then, it must be purgedof that former peace and disquieted concerning it and withdrawn from it.(154)Even so was Jeremias when, in the passage which we quoted from him, he feltand lamented(155) thus, in order to express the calamities of this nightthat is past, saying: 'My soul is withdrawn and removed from peace.'(156)

7. This is a painful disturbance, involving many misgivings, imaginings,and strivings which the soul has within itself, wherein, with the apprehensionand realization of the miseries it which it sees itself, it fancies thatit is lost and that its blessings have gone for ever. Wherefore the spiritexperiences pain and sighing so deep that they cause it vehement spiritualgroans and cries, to which at times it gives vocal expression; when it hasthe necessary strength and power it dissolves into tears, although this reliefcomes but seldom. David describes this very aptly, in a Psalm, as one whohas had experience of it, where he says: 'I was exceedingly afflicted andhumbled; I roared with the groaning of my heart.'(157) This roaring impliesgreat pain; for at times, with the sudden and acute remembrance of thesemiseries wherein the soul sees itself, pain and affliction rise up and surroundit, and I know not how the affections of the soul could be described(158)save in the similitude of holy Job, when he was in the same trials, and utteredthese words: 'Even as the overflowing of the waters, even so is my roaring.'(159)For just as at times the waters make such inundations that they overwhelmand fill everything, so at times this roaring and this affliction of thesoul grow to such an extent that they overwhelm it and penetrate it completely,filling it with spiritual pain and anguish in all its deep affections andenergies, to an extent surpassing all possibility of exaggeration.

8. Such is the work wrought in the soul by this night that hides the hopes of thelight of day. With regard to this the prophet Job says likewise: 'In thenight my mouth is pierced with sorrows and they that feed upon me sleepnot.'(160) Now here by the mouth is understood the will, which is transpiercedwith these pains that tear the soul to pieces, neither ceasing nor sleeping,for the doubts and misgivings which transpierce the soul in this way nevercease.

9. Deep is this warfare and this striving, for the peace which thesoul hopes for will be very deep; and the spiritual pain is intimate anddelicate, for the love which it will possess will likewise be very intimateand refined. The more intimate and the more perfect the finished work isto be and to remain, the more intimate, perfect and pure must be the labour;the firmer the edifice, the harder the labour. Wherefore, as Job says, thesoul is fading within itself, and its vitals are being consumed without anyhope.(161) Similarly, because in the state of perfection toward which itjourneys by means of this purgative night the soul will attain to the possessionand fruition of innumerable blessings, of gifts and virtues, both accordingto the substance of the soul and likewise according to its faculties, itmust needs see and feel itself withdrawn from them all and deprived of themall and be empty and poor without them; and it must needs believe its elfto be so far from them that it cannot persuade itself that it will ever reachthem, but rather it must be convinced that all its good things are over.The words of Jeremias have a similar meaning in that passage already quoted,where he says: 'I have forgotten good things.'(162)

10. But let us now see the reason why this light of contemplation, which is so sweet and blessedto the soul that there is naught more desirable (for, as has been said above,it is the same wherewith the soul must be united and wherein it must findall the good things in the state of perfection that it desires), produces,when it assails the soul, these beginnings which are so painful and theseeffects which are so disagreeable, as we have here said. 1l. This questionis easy for us to answer, by explaining, as we have already done in part,that the cause of this is that, in contemplation and the Divine inflowing,there is naught that of itself can cause affliction, but that they rathercause great sweetness and delight, as we shall say hereafter. The cause israther the weakness and imperfection from which the soul then suffers, andthe dispositions which it has in itself and which make it unfit for the receptionof them. Wherefore, when the said Divine light assails the soul, it mustneeds cause it to suffer after the manner aforesaid.


Explains this purgation fully by a comparison.

1 FOR the greater clearness of what has been said, and of what has still tobe said, it is well to observe at this point that this purgative and lovingknowledge or Divine light whereof we here speak acts upon the soul whichit is purging and preparing for perfect union with it in the same way asfire acts upon a log of wood in order to transform it into itself; for materialfire, acting upon wood, first of all begins to dry it, by driving out itsmoisture and causing it to shed the water which it contains within itself.Then it begins to make it black, dark and unsightly, and even to give fortha bad odour, and, as it dries it little by little, it brings out and drivesaway all the dark and unsightly accidents which are contrary to the natureof fire. And, finally, it begins to kindle it externally and give it heat,and at last transforms it into itself and makes it as beautiful as fire.In this respect, the wood has neither passivity nor activity of its own,save for its weight, which is greater, and its substance, which is denser,than that of fire, for it has in itself the properties and activities offire. Thus it is dry and it dries; it is hot and heats; it is bright andgives brightness; and it is much less heavy than before. All these propertiesand effects are caused in it by the fire.

2. In this same way we have to philosophize with respect to this Divine fire of contemplative love, which,before it unites and transforms the soul in itself, first purges it of allits contrary accidents. It drives out its unsightliness, and makes it blackand dark, so that it seems worse than before and more unsightly and abominablethan it was wont to be. For this Divine purgation is removing all the eviland vicious humours which the soul has never perceived because they havebeen so deeply rooted and grounded in it; it has never realized, in fact,that it has had so much evil within itself. But now that they are to be drivenforth and annihilated, these humours reveal themselves, and become visibleto the soul because it is so brightly illumined by this dark light of Divinecontemplation (although it is no worse than before, either in itself or inrelation to God); and, as it sees in itself that which it saw not before,it is clear to it that not only is it unfit to be seen by God, but deservesHis abhorrence, and that He does indeed abhor it. By this comparison we cannow understand many things concerning what we are saying and purpose to say.

3. First, we can understand how the very light and the loving wisdom whichare to be united with the soul and to transform it are the same that at thebeginning purge and prepare it: even as the very fire which transforms thelog of wood into itself, and makes it part of itself, is that which at thefirst was preparing it for that same purpose.

4. Secondly, we shall be able to see how these afflictions are not felt by the soul as coming from thesaid Wisdom, since, as the Wise Man says, all good things together come tothe soul with her.(163) They are felt as coming from the weakness andimperfection which belong to the soul; without such purgation, the soul cannotreceive its Divine light, sweetness and delight, even as the log of wood,when the fire acts upon it, cannot immediately be transformed until it bemade ready; wherefore the soul is greatly afflicted. This statement is fullysupported by the Preacher, where he describes all that he suffered in orderthat he might attain to union with wisdom and to the fruition of it, sayingthus: 'My soul hath wrestled with her and my bowels were moved in acquiringher; therefore it shall possess a good possession.'(164)

5. Thirdly, we can learn here incidentally in what manner souls are afflicted in purgatory.For the fire would have no power over them, even though they came into contactwith it, if they had no imperfections for which to suffers. These are thematerial upon which the fire of purgatory seizes; when that material is consumedthere is naught else that can burn. So here, when the imperfections are consumed,the affliction of the soul ceases and its fruition remains.

6. The fourth thing that we shall learn here is the manner wherein the soul, as it becomespurged and purified by means of this fire of love, becomes ever more enkindledin love, just as the wood grows hotter in proportion as it becomes the betterprepared by the fire. This enkindling of love, however, is not always feltby the soul, but only at times when contemplation assails it less vehemently,for then it has occasion to see, and even to enjoy, the work which is beingwrought in it, and which is then revealed to it. For it seems that the workertakes his hand from the work, and draws the iron out of the furnace, in orderthat something of the work which is being done may be seen; and then thereis occasion for the soul to observe in itself the good which it saw not whilethe work was going on. In the same way, when the flame ceases to attack thewood, it is possible to see how much of it has been enkindled.

7. Fifthly, we shall also learn from this comparison what has been said above--namely,how true it is that after each of these periods of relief the soul suffersonce again, more intensely and keenly than before. For, after that revelationjust referred to has been made, and after the more outward imperfectionsof the soul have been purified, the fire of love once again attacks thatwhich has yet to be consumed and purified more inwardly. The suffering ofthe soul now becomes more intimate, subtle and spiritual, in proportion asthe fire refines away the finer,(165) more intimate and more spiritualimperfections, and those which are most deeply rooted in its inmost parts.And it is here just as with the wood, upon which the fire, when it beginsto penetrate it more deeply, acts with more force and vehemence(166) in preparingits most inward part to possess it.

8. Sixthly, we shall likewise learn here the reason why it seems to the soul that all its good is over, and that itis full of evil, since naught comes to it at this time but bitterness; itis like the burning wood, which is touched by no air nor by aught else thanby consuming fire. But, when there occur other periods of relief like thefirst, the rejoicing of the soul will be more interior because the purificationhas been more interior also.

9. Seventhly, we shall learn that, although the soul has the most ample joy at these periods (so much so that, as wesaid, it sometimes thinks that its trials can never return again, althoughit is certain that they will return quickly), it cannot fail to realize,if it is aware (and at times it is made aware) of a root of imperfectionwhich remains, that its joy is incomplete, because a new assault seems tobe threatening it;(167) when this is so, the trial returns quickly. Finally,that which still remains to be purged and enlightened most inwardly cannotwell be concealed from the soul in view of its experience of its formerpurification;(168) even as also in the wood it is the most inward part thatremains longest unkindled,(169) and the difference between it and that whichhas already been purged is clearly perceptible; and, when this purificationonce more assails it most inwardly, it is no wonder if it seems to the soulonce more that all its good is gone, and that it never expects to experienceit again, for, now that it has been plunged into these most inward sufferings,all good coming from without is over.(170)

10. Keeping this comparison, then, before our eyes, together with what has already been said upon the firstline of the first stanza concerning this dark night and its terrible properties,it will be well to leave these sad experiences of the soul and to begin tospeak of the fruit of its tears and their blessed properties, whereof thesoul begins to sing from this second line:

Kindled in love(171) with yearnings,


Begins to explain the second line of the first stanza. Describes how, asthe fruit of these rigorous constraints, the soul finds itself with the vehementpassion of Divine love.

1 IN this line the soul describes the fire of love which, as we have said,like the material fire acting upon the wood, begins to take hold upon thesoul in this night of painful contemplation. This enkindling now described,although in a certain way it resembles that which we described above as comingto pass in the sensual part of the soul, is in some ways as different fromthat other as is the soul from the body, or the spiritual part from the sensual.For this present kind is an enkindling of spiritual love in the soul, which,in the midst of these dark confines, feels itself to be keenly and sharplywounded in strong Divine love, and to have a certain realization and foretasteof God, although it understands nothing definitely, for, as we say, theunderstanding is in darkness.

2. The spirit feels itself here to be deeply and passionately in love, for this spiritual enkindling produces the passionof love. And, inasmuch as this love is infused, it is passive rather thanactive, and thus it begets in the soul a strong passion of love. This lovehas in it something of union with God, and thus to some degree partakes ofits properties, which are actions of God rather than of the soul, these beingsubdued within it passively. What the soul does here is to give its consent;the warmth and strength and temper and passion of love--or enkindling, asthe soul here calls it--belong(172) only to the love of God, which entersincreasingly into union with it. This love finds in the soul more occasionand preparation to unite itself with it and to wound it, according as allthe soul's desires are the more recollected,(173) and are the more withdrawnfrom and disabled for the enjoyment of aught either in Heaven or in earth.

3. This takes place to a great extent, as has already been said, in thisdark purgation, for God has so weaned all the inclinations and caused themto be so recollected(174) that they cannot find pleasure in anything theymay wish. All this is done by God to the end that, when He withdraws themand recollects them in Himself, the soul may have more strength and fitnessto receive this strong union of love of God, which He is now beginning togive it through this purgative way, wherein the soul must love with greatstrength and with all its desires and powers both of spirit and of sense;which could not be if they were dispersed in the enjoyment of aught else.For this reason David said to God, to the end that he might receive the strengthof the love of this union with God: 'I will keep my strength for Thee;'(175)that is, I will keep the entire capacity and all the desires and energiesof my faculties, nor will I employ their operation or pleasure in aught elsethan Thyself.

4. In this way it can be realized in some measure how greatand how strong may be this enkindling of love in the spirit, wherein Godkeeps in recollection all the energies, faculties and desires of the soul,both of spirit and of sense, so that all this harmony may employ its energiesand virtues in this love, and may thus attain to a true fulfilment of thefirst commandment, which sets aside nothing pertaining to man nor excludesfrom this love anything that is his, but says: 'Thou shalt love thy God withall thy heart and with all thy mind, with all thy soul and with all thystrength.'(176)

5. When all the desires and energies of the soul, then, havebeen recollected in this enkindling of love, and when the soul itself hasbeen touched and wounded in them all, and has been inspired with passion,what shall we understand the movements and digressions of all these energiesand desires to be, if they find themselves enkindled and wounded with stronglove and without the possession and satisfaction thereof, in darkness anddoubt? They will doubtless be suffering hunger, like the dogs of which Davidspeaks as running about the city(177); finding no satisfaction in this love,they keep howling and groaning. For the touch of this love and Divine firedries up the spirit and enkindles its desires, in order to satisfy its thirstfor this Divine love, so much so that it turns upon itself a thousand timesand desires God in a thousand ways and manners, with the eagerness and desireof the appetite. This is very well explained by David in a psalm, where hesays: 'My soul thirsted for Thee: in how many manners does my soul long forThee!'(178)--that is, in desires. And another version reads: 'My soul thirstedfor Thee, my soul is lost (or perishes) for Thee.'

6. It is for this reason that the soul says in this line that it was 'kindled in love with yearnings.'(179) For in all the things and thoughts that it revolves within itself, and in all the affairs and matters that present themselves to it, it loves in many ways, and also desires and suffers in the desire in many ways, at all times and in all places, finding rest in naught, and feeling this yearning in its enkindled wound, even as the prophet Job declares, saying: 'As the hart(180) desireth the shadow, and as the hireling desireth the end of his work, so I also had vain months and numbered to myself wearisome and laborious nights. If I lie down to sleep, I shall say: "When shall I arise?"And then I shall await the evening and shall be full of sorrows even until the darkness of night.'(181) Everything becomes cramping to this soul: it cannot live(182) within itself; it cannot live either in Heaven or on earth; and it is filled with griefs until the darkness comes to which Job here refers, speaking spiritually and in the sense of our interpretation. What the soul here endures is afflictions and suffering without the consolation of a certain hope of any light and spiritual good. Wherefore the yearning and the grief of this soul in this enkindling of love are greater because it is multiplied in two ways: first, by the spiritual darkness wherein it finds itself, which afflicts it with its doubts and misgivings; and then by the love of God, which enkindles and stimulates it, and, with its loving wound, causes it a wondrous fear. These two kinds of suffering at such a season are well described by Isaias, where he says: 'My soul desired Thee in the night'(Is 26,9)--that is, in misery.

7. This is one kind of suffering which proceeds from this dark night; but, he goes on to say, with my spirit, in my bowels, until themorning, I will watch for Thee. And this is the second way of grieving indesire and yearning which comes from love in the bowels of the spirit, whichare the spiritual affections. But in the midst of these dark and lovingafflictions the soul feels within itself a certain companionship and strength,which bears it company and so greatly strengthens it that, if this burdenof grievous darkness be taken away, it often feels itself to be alone, emptyand weak. The cause of this is that, as the strength and efficacy of thesoul were derived and communicated passively from the dark fire of love whichassailed it, it follows that, when that fire ceases to assail it, the darknessand power and heat of love cease in the soul.

John, Dark Night 2 8