My involvement minister has asked me to submit a topic and syllabus for an Adult Elective course at church designed for 1) seekers, 2) new converts, 3) discipleship training or 4) leadership training. In the past, these have met for an hour a week for as few as 4 or as many as 8 weeks, usually averaging six.
I don’t know how to answer him. I’m completely blank. I don’t know what I can add to the canon of spiritual ammunition that the Adult Elective series has already volleyed, plus all of the regular Sunday morning Adult ed studies and all of the past sermon series.
I’ve been trying to reduce my spiritual load for a while to better set my own house in order. I hate to admit it, but our preaching minister’s Sunday message on “Solitude” (in a series from Richard Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline”) has made me wonder if I’m going through what St. John of the Cross described as “the long dark night of the soul.”
That’s not to be confused with Douglas Adams’ hilarious and irreverent “The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul” and its Norse deity connnections, nor with the phrase “the long dark night of the soul” used in other eastern mystic religions — though it has some common ground.
The mystic/Gnostic St. John described it in the 15th or 16th century as the emptying process that prepares the soul for being filled with God’s illumination.
Frankly, I’m not into any of the mystic stuff of any religion, and the whole concept of “secret knowledge” meant for a few but not everyone sounds elitist and creeps me out.
But I do feel spiritually empty, and have for a good long time now. I know it’s partly an angst of sorts that all Christians feel deep down, knowing that God has created people for more and better and closer to Him than this world offers. Yet it’s more than that, a feeling that I haven’t yet heard or heeded a calling — not necessarily a unique one for me; just a calling that every once in a while I think I hear whispering in my heart.
Is it the unwritten book that’s been rattling around inside my head and heart for twenty-odd years (plus one or two even ones)?
Is it just the yearning for the days when contemplating the biblical canon still blew me away?
Is it really a craving for the divine creative spark?