Sunday, February 4, 2007

surrendering to the divinity of night

Here is a contemplative exercise from Jim Finley’s book, “The Contemplative Heart” (pages 154-156). I have taken some liberties with adapting, condensing, and sometimes rearranging the wording …

“Go to your room about an hour before sunset. Prop a few pillows on the floor against a wall facing an open window. Sit on the floor. Do not read anything. Do not write anything. But simply settle into the single minded intention of being with God while it gets dark. Continue sitting silent and still in the slowly darkening room for a full hour or so once the room has become dark.

“If you sit with any intention other than that of simply being with God in the deepening darkness of day’s end, you may or may not succeed. Sitting with the intention of simply staying awake, you might fall asleep. Sitting with the intention of falling asleep, you might have insomnia and sit there wide awake. Sitting with the intention of finding inner peace, you may be agitated. Sitting with the intention of having certain religious experiences, you might find yourself bereft of any felt sense of God’s presence …

“But if you sit there in the darkening room with no intention save that of being with God while it gets dark, you will succeed without fail, no matter what. …

“Sitting with all one’s heart in a darkening room seems strange only to the extent that you have allowed yourself to become a stranger to this child-like vulnerability to the divinity of the day’s end … You come home at night drained by the day’s ventures, ruminating over what tomorrow might bring, distracting yourself with this or that diversion, then get into bed, slipping off to sleep without ever stopping to renew your mindfulness of the divinity of day’s end.

“Knowing how easily you lose this awareness of the day’s end, you sit, intent upon being with God while it gets dark. You allow yourself to fall into the eternal silence of the darkening room.

“At first, your ego will fight the descent into the divinity of the night, and struggle with time spent with no agenda, no goals but this unmanageable situation of nothing to manage, nothing to control. Little by little, your ego melts into the darkness, and you discover yourself to be resting in and one with the no-place-to-go plenitude of the darkened room in which you sit. Sitting thusly, for an hour or so in the darkness, you stand and without turning on any lights, undress in the dark. Getting into bed, you drift off to sleep as one graced in having been intimately awakened and surrendered over to the divinity of night.”


  1. This is Spot on. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for happening upon this place, brookiejoy, and for leaving a comment.

    I find this "contemplative exercise" right on, as well. It's good to know that somebody else relates!


God speaks

God speaks, and God is to be heard, not only on Sinai, not only in my own heart, but in the voice of the stranger. — Thomas Merton, Emble...