In a previous post I talk about two distinct Dark Nights: the Dark Night of the Senses and the Dark Night of the Soul. Two Dark Nights, not just one. This is the teaching of the original voice regarding Dark Nights, John of the Cross. He was born in 1542 in Spain. At one point he ran afoul of the Church and was thrown into prison. The problem wasn’t anything more than that he required more from the monks and nuns regarding prayer and meditation and, most importantly, shoes. What!?, you say. Shoes?
In those days, wealthy people would send one of their children to the monastery or convent as surety before God. Quid pro Quo, so to speak. I give God a son or daughter and this secures the family’s place in heaven. Well, these wealthy children, to say the least, did NOT want to be in the monastery or convent. They wore what we would call “street clothes” today. This meant nice shoes. John of the Cross required they go barefoot, or at most, sandals. The Latin word for this, Anglicized of course, is “discalced.” This became a symbol of the reform of the religious order.
So then, regarding the two Nights, John says:
“In the measure that souls approach spirit in their dealings with God, they divest and empty themselves of the ways of the senses, of discursive and imaginative meditation. When they have completely attained spiritual communion with God they will be void of all sensory apprehensions concerning God. The more an object approaches one extreme, the further it retreats from the other; on complete attainment of one extreme it will be wholly separated from the other. . . . (Once the taste of the spirit is experienced, everything carnal is insipid). The ways of the flesh (which refer to the use of the senses in spiritual things) afford neither profit nor delight. . . . If something is spiritual it is incomprehensible to the senses; but if the senses can grasp it, it is no longer purely spiritual. The more knowledge the senses and natural apprehensions have about it, the less spiritual and supernatural it will be.”John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book Two, Chapter 17.5