I was in the midst of my "Long Night of the Soul," as long-dead St. John of the Cross called it centuries ago, when I asked the ever present question so many of us have asked in our lives:
"Who the hell are you God? Or are you a God? Are you even a you?"
It had been a hard day, beginning in the wee hours of the preceding morning when I felt something traipsing across my face, ever so slowly. My dream of my nightgown being up for sale was interrupted by Yipes! A darn Stink Bug! I threw him across my bed and tried to go back to sleep to find out how much my old nightgown went for.
But sleep wouldn't come. I couldn't get my mind off that cruddy ugly bug previously on my face, and now somewhere on my bed, just waiting to pounce on me again. I turned on my light and hunted down the little critter.
"There he was!"
Should I kill him? No, I'm a Quaker. Can't kill anything. Besides these things get even with you after you kill them. They stink! So I picked up the varmint and threw him across the room, giving him one more chance to stay alive.
But by then my night was ruined. I couldn't sleep.
And now I was in my bed again trying to go to sleep. But sleep wouldn't come. I kept thinking about that bug crawling on my face. I had seen another one earlier in the evening, and God forbid, I killed it BAD with my furry shoes. And they were right, the little guy stunk up my entire room!
I hadn't eaten much. My stomach was growling. I decided to read, taking off of my bed table a book about the gnostics, and how they believed in awareness but not really God per se.
Darn, it was my Dark Night of the Soul, and there might not even be a god out there somewhere out among the clouds to notice me. This whole Dark Night of the Soul might be completely wasted with no god to notice my suffering.
Still sleep wouldn't come. I was wide awake, ready for another stink bug to attack in vengeance his brother or sister's death by my thick-threaded shoe. The odor was setting him on track. And maybe there wasn't a God to help me! And I never did find out how much my nightgown was worth!
I tossed and turned, couldn't get comfortable. I felt a tickle around my neck. I swished my hand across it. Nothing there. My forehead felt weird. Nothing there either. I was too hot. I kicked off a layer of blankets. I was lonely. Who could I tell about my Dark Night of the Soul that was happening to me right then?
What did the ancient saints do way back then?
I switched on my bedside light again, and rummaged around for my book of all the saints the Catholic Church had ever canonized, and ended up reading about these guys who witnessed to the Armenians back around 500 AD. The print in the book was about a 8 point font, so had to try to decipher just why they were made saints. The one guy had two sons. He became a bishop or pope, so he made one of his sons a bishop like he had been. I guess there was no celibacy back then. And maybe that's why the print was so darn small.
When I and my eyes decided we were now both tired enough, I put the book back and shot off the light, assured that by now sleep would surely come. All that came was a growling stomach.
So downstairs at 2 AM I traipsed, and made toast and hot milk, succumbing to an aspirin, as well, to bring on the drowsies.
Again the doubts arose, intertwined with the fear of stink bugs, where was my God? Was the God I had learned about in Catholic school just a fairy tale like the tooth fairy or Santa Clause or Elvis? Was I sucker to believe all this junk into my 60s? Was I able to believe in just the grandeur of being in awareness? Was my soul to just merge with that big awareness in the sky that no one could see? Was this the closest thing we could come to an afterlife?
No, I like the idea of a Sugar Daddy God better. Sure this God I had learned about wasn't too keen on being sexual a whole lot, but I finally got used to that, realizing that maybe I was no longer a virgin, but at least I didn't practice birth control like those protestants and the other 99 percent of Catholics.
If there was no God in me or out there looking at my suffering this Dark Night of the Soul, then who was?
I opened my eyes. It was now about 3 AM, and I saw a glowing white from a picture near my bed. There was God, showing himself (or herself or itself) to me. Then I remembered, that was the white horse standing along side Sir Galahad.
There was my God, a Magnificent White Horse, the Almighty White Horse, who could chase away stink bugs, protect me during my remaining few hours of sleep, could understand my Dark Night of the Soul, and maybe even let me ride him in the afterlife someday.
This Almighty White Horse was glowing at me! No wonder I had always been drawn to horses ever since I was a little girl! Sure, in those days, I like Black Stallions, but a White Horse? I could live with that. He was right there along side my bed, along with his disciple Sir Galahad, probably on a search for the Holy Grail or maybe just Green Pastures where their souls could overflow.
Oh, Holy White Horse, thank you for standing beside me in stead as I try to purge this horrible and sleepless Dark Night of the Soul.
You may not be the grandfatherly old guy I had always envisioned, but you are strong and steady....and so much better looking! Go ahead and stomp on those stink bugs as you lead me to the sweet green pastures of your love.