jan 22 – “but not to take away the precious dark”

“Holy Dark” a Repetition according to St. Ignatius
Posted on January 23, 2014 by

In The Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius teaches methods of prayer.  One of the most important he calls the “Repetition.” (i.e., “Attention should be paid to some more important [remembered] places in which I have found understanding, consolation, or desolation.” Sp Ex # 118).   The principle: “I know more from my experiences than I think;  go back and savor and be surprised.”   For some reason this dark morning, I went back to a workday post from October 2013 and found this one about longer nights and shorter days.

Here it is again, posted with no changes from its Oct 2 original form.  Perhaps an anointing for the deep darkness of  late January.

Have a good day.

john sj

Subject: Robert Frost —-a work day as days get shorter
Date: October 2, 2013

Hard times —  a Congress locked in venom and contempt for those with whom one must negotiate,  “partisan” is a common adjective for elected officials at the national level; a time of moral fatigue.   Even so,  this morning reminded me that I like getting up while it is dark outside.  It helps me recognize a balance of light and dark.   Early dark opens awarenesses that I sometimes miss while hustling along in the light.

I once got in a fight at MIT when I gave a talk about the West’s coupling the emergence of Western scientific methods with its devaluing of Europe’s mystical disciplines.  A friend, Leo Marx got upset with that talk and some other MIT-Harvard types got angry and insulting that I would  call the dark “holy” and celebrate mystery and mysticism at MIT.   But it was Leo who introduced me to this Robert Frost’s poem,  today’s post.   As you read, out loud if possible, pause and breathe 2 or 3 times.

Have a blest day.

john st sj


Today’s Post  —  A poem for days of lean light
{n.b., “bulb or arc”  from the time of Edison’s breakthrough innovations, “arc lights” and “light bulbs”  were perceived as transforming the night with bright manufactured lights.

Here come the stars to character the skies,
And they in the estimation of the wise
Are more divine than any bulb or arc,
Because their purpose is to flash and spark,
But not to take away the precious dark.
We need the interruption of the night
To ease attention off when overtight,
To break our logic in too long a flight,
And ask us if our premises are right.

Robert Frost “The Literate Farmers and the Planet Venus”

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