For most of us there is a moment. A moment when our world has imploded and nothing of control is left. A moment when we have come to the end of ourselves, it is finite… there is no more, we are empty, lost, desperately done. In the Psalms, David called this “the dark night of the soul.” Sadly, this broken place is the beginning of our healing.
I am no stranger to such a dark place. There are two seasons that are particularly memorable. Once as a suicidal young teenager and another more recent time was as I realized the crippling effect that autoimmune disease would have on my life. In both instances my smashed-up pieces became a mosaic of truth and revelation. I am not sure why we must get to such broken places before we allow G-d to be our breath, but none the less…
On Yom Kippur we are admonished to afflict our souls (Lev 23.26-27). In observance, we are creating a situation in which we are uncomfortable, suffering, actually. Our bellies growl with the discomfort of a commanded fast, we are thirsty, we are tired, and the atmosphere is perfect. Perfect? Yes, perfect.
Perfect for remembering what it took to bring us to the face of our Rescuer. Perfect for an imposed “dark night of the soul,“ if you will. Without Him, we are crippled and striving, abandoned to chaos. As destitute as that sounds, we get comfortable with our chaos (like the Egyptians in Exodus), we grow accustomed to the disabilities in our soul. When life is somewhat manageable, we forget to cry out. What if we took full advantage of our Yom Kippur instead? What if we allowed this day of brief affliction to dive deep into the memory of our darkest place, only long enough to wake ourselves to the freedom He has brought. Yom Kippur can be our anti-complacency day!
What are the dark moments in your life that squeezed until you cried out to G-d? How did He restore? On Yom Kippur, when you are hungry and trying to repeat the meaningful prayers without falling over, allow yourself a moment to connect to the desperate parts of your story and then feast on the many ways He has rescued you. It is not popular to dwell on those parts of our story, but without the brokenness, there is no restored masterpiece.