Into the Light of the Dark Black Night

Written by admin on September 11th, 2010

[This is one of a series of entries from my unpublished book, Desperate Devotion, which details my experience with the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew during a crisis of faith and calling.]

I was listening to Beatles music recently, and the song “Blackbird” came on. Hearing the words in the context of my life circumstances, I realized for the first time how deeply they resonated with the longing of the human heart when lost in the darkness of what the 16th century mystic, St. John of the Cross termed, “the dark night of the soul”:


Blackbird singing in the dead of night

Take these broken wings and learn to fly

All your life

You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night

Take these sunken eyes and learn to see

All your life

You were only waiting for this moment to be free.

Blackbird fly Blackbird fly

Into the light of the dark black night.[1]

This Lennon-McCartney song captures the longing I felt during those months in the absence of the sense of God. Honestly, it captures a longing that though deepened by the crisis of my faith, has been there most of my adult life. When I signed on as a follower of Christ, I was particularly captivated by Jesus saying that he had come that we might have Life and that we might have it more abundantly.[2] I knew he was talking about life before death just as much as he was about life after death. Eternal life, truly understood, is all of this. It begins now and goes on forever. It is life at its best, life animated and blessed by God. I knew Jesus was inviting me into an experience that would amplify all that was best about being alive.

Given my sense of faith’s possibilities, I have had an uneasy awareness of the gap that often opens between its potential and my actual experience. Thomas Kelly expressed perfectly what I have often felt:

“Strained by the very mad pace of our daily outer burdens, we are further strained by an inward uneasiness, because we have hints that there is a way of life vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power. If only we could slip over into that Center! If only we could find the Silence which is the source of sound!”[3]

Life. God’s promised Life. Elusive, daunting, irresistible Life. It has for most of my life been the pearl of great price I would give anything to possess.[4]

During the dark night of my soul, this yearning became an almost unbearable ache in my chest, an obsessive interest, a bleeding desire. I felt my brokenness. I recognized my blindness. I strained to notice and move toward any evidence, any sign of light.

By light, of course, I mean the presence of God. By light I mean any illumination on a path ahead. By light I mean security, warmth, and joy.

My journey into the Red Letters of Jesus was my great, desperate attempt to find this light in the only place I had hopes of finding it. When I opened the Bible each morning, I was Blackbird singing in the dead of night, with the broken wings of a wounded follower and the sunken eyes of a blind believer.

To sing a song, any song, in the dead of night is to defy what the evidence suggests. To talk to God when God seems absent is the foolishness of God’s kind of faith. To keep believing, to keep trying, to refuse to give up even when you fear that God has given up on you; that’s blackbird singing in the dead of night.

[1] “Blackbird,” Lennon-McCartney, Sony Beatles LTD; Sony/ATV Tunes LLC.

[2] Jn. 10:10.

[3] Thomas R. Kelly, ATestament of Devotion (New York: Harper & Row, 1941), 115.

[4] Mt. 13:45-46.


3 Comments so far ↓

  1. admin says:

    Thanks for your reply. All the best to you!

  2. Motorcycle Fairing says:

    Good evening

    Awesome blog, great write up, thank you!

  3. admin says:

    You can reach me through this website any time. All the best to you!

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