Rob Bell’s UK Book Tour
‘Tonight’ by Richard Wu
I didn’t really know, even when writing the book, that many Christian communities in times gone by would have said “Oh, this is normal, this dark night of the soul, this doubt. This is part of the expected choreography of a Christian life.” If I had known that, while writing Still, there probably would have been a chapter: “dark night choreopgrahy,” or somesuch.
It is only in the last year or so that I have begun to read and study and learn that many, many wise saints from times gone by would say, about a season of doubt or alienation from God or despair, “This is not an aberration. This is one of the well-established patterns of Christian life.” Not every Christian lives through such a season, but for many people, it is simply part of the architecture, part of what we can expect along the path to God, the path to true intimacy with God and self and neighbor.
Somehow knowing that has allowed me to read my own experience, my own years’ long (four? six?) sojourn into that alienation with a bit more—well, appreciation. And a bit less anguish. And it has allowed me to say to friends and parishioners who are in the anguish that they are companioned by saints, and by a whole tradition of wisdom for the dark nights. Knowing that does not make the dark seasons any easier. The dark seasons are, simply, awful. They are awful. But the knowledge that they are actually part of the warp and woof of Christian life may make our abiding in the darkness, our presence to the darkness, more bearable, perhaps less alone, perhaps even rich. Perhaps the place we know as a place of God’s removal becomes a place of knowing God more.