journey into day

A Long Night’s Journey into Day

 June 1, 2023

A Long Day’s Journey into Night is an American classic. Over the course of one day, Eugene O’Neil tells the story of his family’s struggle with addiction. The promise of day gives way to night as Mary, the mother in the play, sinks back into the darkness of opioid addiction. But for me, thinking about my life and my spiritual journey, it’s more of a long night’s journey into day.

A Long Day’s Journey into Night

Mary isn’t the only character struggling with addiction in the play as her husband and two sons struggle with alcoholism. It’s a tragic story, far too often repeated in other families facing similar struggles. In one day, O’Neil sums up his whole life. A mother grieving over a baby lost, escaping through drugs. An unavailable father. It ends on a tragic note as nothing has changed. Each slips back into their own unhappy existence. The hope of a new day is gone.

A Cloud of Unknowing

So much of our time on this earth is filled with darkness. And when we think we know what we are doing and where we are headed, it is even darker. Clarity is just the mask darkness wears. As I look back over my life, I see that often it was when I was most sure of myself that I was mistaken.

Like little children we stamp our feet and insist we are in charge, that we know what we are doing and demand our own way. And God laughs. “The One enthroned in heaven laughs.” (Ps. 2:4) Not an evil, smirky laugh, but the laugh of a parent, madly in love with their child. As the saying goes, if you want to make God laugh, tell God your plans. God knows that what God has planned for us is so much better than our own plans, yet God lets us have our way at times so that we might learn.

Our decisions are only as good as the knowledge we have to base them on, but what we don’t know at any point in time far outweighs what we do. With our limited knowledge we struggle to make the best decisions we can.

Dark Night Experience

In the dark night experience, God appears to be dark even when God is closest. God’s brilliance is more than human eye can bear, so it appears as darkness. In this life, sometimes what appears to be dark is brilliant light. We can’t bear it.

So how do we deal with this cloud of unknowing? The good news is that we don’t have to know. God is leading us through the darkness, whether the darkness of addiction, loss, physical or emotional pain. God is with us on this long night’s journey into day.

A Long Night’s Journey into Day

In O’Neil’s tragedy is a deep beauty, the love the family members have for each other despite their struggle to express it. God is present with them in their darkness. This doesn’t mean that life is a tragedy. I find so much beauty and joy in my life. But even this joy is darkness when compared to what God has in store for us.

The spiritual journey is one of night into day, as we move through the darkness of this life into the brightness of God’s Day.

What has been your experience with night and day, darkness and light, in prayer?

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