I have received a bit of relief from my spiritual desolation in the last few days.  I think a lot of it has come from simply accepting the desolation for what it is: namely, a gift from God to help me grow and develop.  Setting my will on patience, perseverence, and trying to be at peace with it has made it more bearable. 

Incidentally, I have been reading The Tiber was Silver by Michael Novak.  I just read a chapter in which the main character, Richard, is talking to his spiritual director about his spiritual crisis, which includes deep darkness.  Among other things, his spiritual director says:

When have you ever been more humble, Riccardo?  When have you ever been so concerned about your motives and the perfection of your actions?  When have you ever been more sensitive to others or prayed with more intensity?  I don’t see it all so black, Richard.  I see small flames. (p. 88)

Reading that really touched me and made me see things differently.  I felt almost as if that was what God might be saying to me, and that that was the meaning of my spiritual difficulties of late.  Things are always so much easier to bear when there is meaning to them!  We humans always need meaning, almost as much as we need air and water and love.

This morning, I prayed Morning Prayer for the memorial of St. Philip Neri.  I have always been fond of Psalm 63, but I don’t think it has ever resonated quite so strongly with me.

O God, You are my God, for You I long;

For You my soul is thirsting.

My body pines for You

like a dry, weary land without water.

This Psalm too has more meaning when one is in spiritual desolation.  One does pray it more fervently in desolation than in consolation.  And sometimes we need that… we need to long for God and realize just how important He is to us.  Otherwise, we easily fall into complacency and arrogance–fantasies that we are ourselves are God.

I won’t lie and say that any amount of spiritual desolation is easy or enjoyable (otherwise it would not be desolation)… but I am thankful for it nonetheless.