The dark of night is not the end of the world

The ancient peoples thought that the earth was flat and, if one ventured too close to the edge, he would fall off. “The end of the world” is a place where there is no solid ground for us to step upon. It is as if the earth stops there and only emptiness lies beyond.

We all have times when there seems to be nothing solid on which we can walk, stand or even rest. Our world, then, seems to be crumbling under our feet and we wish we were anywhere but where we are. We are certain our family doesn’t understand how we feel; we are unable to convince those close to us how serious our state of mind is; there seems to be no way to find outside help in making our decisions.

A mystic, Saint John of the Cross, called this crisis “the dark night of the soul.” If you have been wakeful during the pre-dawn hours when the world is still sleeping, you know how lonely it can feel. There is no one to talk to; it’s almost as if you are the only person alive in the world. The night seems endless and it is easy to believe that morning will never come.

Our crises are like that, seeming to be endless and without hope of a good outcome. At such times, we might begin to believe that life is not worth living. Perhaps we think, the world (the family, the school, the job, the relationship) will be better off without me. However, this is never true! You have a reason for living; each person in the world has a reason for living. You have a part to play in the life of every other person in the universe. You do matter.

What we often see as “no reason for living is, in truth, a situation in which we can learn a valuable lesson for becoming a whole person. The most stressful event can be a gift in the form of a learning experience that will help us to grow in wisdom and understanding of life’s true meaning.

When involved in a situation that feels like the end of the world, picture yourself standing at the beginning of a stairway. If there is no light, you cannot know there are steps that will support your weight. If you ask for light, you will be shown that there is indeed a stair, each step leading you from the problem to the solution.

There is a part of you that knows the right action for any problem that might arise. Remember: even if you have tried many things that haven’t worked, there are always more ways to attempt a solution. There are no insoluble problems, only those we haven’t yet learned how to solve. Not knowing how to solve a problem doesn’t make you a worthless person. You are a valuable and a valued being.

After the darkest night, the sun always rises. What you are experiencing is only a cloud hiding the face of the sun. Let the power and warmth of the sun within you burn away the cloud that blots out your inner light. Let the sun of belief in life and energize you as you climb.