A couple weeks ago, I had to run some errands locally and my son was in the middle of a riveting episode of PJ Mask. I didn’t have time to wait until the end of the episode to leave and he was expectedly upset.
In the car ride he was emotional and determined to veto everything. No music! None of the lunch options are good! I’m not going to eat anything! We’re not going to do anything and we’re not going to go anywhere! In being upset he adopted a default resistance energy.
In contemplative circles, whether spiritual formation, spiritual direction, or contemporary spirituality, one often comes across the phrase The Dark Night of the Soul. The phrase calls to mind a certain image and is fairly accessible to a modern mind on the surface.
But all too often it seems interchangeably used with terms like depression or suffering. We hear the phrase and automatically call to mind the worst time in our lives. Maybe we had to face a harsh reality, suffered deep and prolonged depression, or lost a loved one. But is that what this phrase refers to?
Yesterday my son asked me why Sunday is called Sunday. Was it named after the sun? I said I thought so. Monday sounded like the word for “moon” in several languages. Hmm. We should look into it!
Turns out each day of the week corresponds to the planets according to Greek cosmology, but filtered down through the Roman pantheon and Germanic language. The days in order refer to sun, moon, Tiw (a Germanic god of combat or war), Wodan (or Odin), Thunder, Frig (the Norse equivalent of the goddess Venus), and Saturn (or Zeus’s father Cronos).
The Feast of Epiphany is a celebration of the Journey of the Magi or the three wise men, popularized in Christmas nativity scenes and a bigger part of Catholic and Eastern traditions than, say, most Protestant faith expressions.
It’s a natural time to reflect on the process or journey and the changes we undergo as we move through stages of faith. I’ve written about these stages in a previous post, and these are usually articulated from a fairly macro level. Bernard of Clairvaux, for example, writes about four stages: loving self for self, loving God for self, loving God for God, and finally, loving self for God. And Janet Hagberg’s The Critical Journey outlining six stages is common reading in spiritual formation programs. But in this post I wanted to address the stages of faith from a more personal angle.
This was a unique Christmas season in my household, to say the least. As the culmination of multiple medical procedures, I had nasal reconstruction scheduled for a couple days before Christmas. A situation at my wife’s work caused her to take over for three Christmas Eve services and juggle duties looking after our four-year-old son.
Somewhere in there, he caught a nasty cold, with bronchitis, fever and vomiting several times a night throughout the week. With packing in both nostrils and sleep apnea, the first nights following surgery it was virtually impossible to find a sleeping position, with no more than twenty minutes sleep at a stretch.