I have two last sets of excerpts to share from Martin Marty’s book on the “wintry” absence and distance of the soul.
We are to the point of dealing with those Psalms of the second winter, songs that speak boldly of abandonment by friends and by God. Here is the shock of dereliction. One pictures the worshiping person as a derelict ship abandoned on the rocks and to the winds and ice. Were it not in these scriptures, the notion would seem to be too shocking to belong in the experience of the godly. (134)
The dark night of the soul knows the false dawn and then faces the darker night. Someone in or faced by the cloud of unknowing at times sees through its mists and follows the beckoning of the sun beyond it. Then, with sudden fury, the bleakest or blackest clouds re-form, but first they threaten, and then open in fierceness. The practice of the presence of God allows one . . . to be aware of nearness. Then, when the presence seems accessible, just as suddenly comes the second, more stark absence. (138)
The person who does not take abandonment seriously because of the knowledge of the Presence lives superficially. Some readers of the Good Friday story, in which Jesus dies, cheat, because, knowing the Easter outcome, they do not allow for Jesus’ own sense of abandonment at the crucial stage. (141)
from ch. 7, A Cry of Absence: Reflections for the Winter of the Heart
(c) 1983-1997 Martin E. Marty
If any reader is annoyed at this point, or has no idea what the experience of spiritual winter is all about, I hope s/he will read at least the last of the above, former posts!