Global Centrum: Chicago, DM, G1oba1 Priors Counci1 9/27/74


These last few days of getting out our practical­vision of what the future holds for us has produced the spirit edge that we are. I am going to talk about how the Dark Night and the Long March are rooted in history today. How does our spirit life interweave our social demonstration, social activity, and the practicality of our mission?

I have been more and more impressed as I finally picked up the book by Theodore Roszak, Where the Wasteland Ends, with his analysis of that kind of state of being. You remember the poster: that we have somewhere on the wall saying, "Where the wasteland ends, there Is where human culture and human fulfillment begin." It goes on to say the soul of man and his society are two sides of the same coin. The way a man's soul Is, so Is his society. He grounds that in ecology. He says the blight that is on the face of the earth today is also the blight within social structures of our times, as they crumble around us. Though that lacks vision on the surface, beneath it he is describing one aspect of the wave of our time.

I keep fidgeting around for the best kind of posture from which to push on the Dark Night and Long March In the context of what Is going on today, where our mission Is taking us and where the world Is going. I even thought about getting under the table where I could sort of shout out what I knew about the Dark Night of the Soul, and maybe that would give you some kind of objectivity on the whole thing. Maybe prostration would be better where you could only see the back of my head. All that, however, is just timidity about dealing with what we have known ever since we first articulated RS­I. I want to weave together that wisdom we have had these several years of what has been the Long March and promises to be a Long March Into the future.

It has been a time to read the waves down underneath' the currents In the subterranean depths of the ocean that they are discovering more about. Depths that go deeper and deeper, It seems, as we explore them. I used to go fishing on the Rio Grande River on the border of Mexico and Texas, and I discovered there was no bottom to that river. If there was I did not find It. There is nothing but mud on the bottom and if you have ever swum in a muddy river you know the feeling it is to sink down in the ooze. But they tell me that in these deep caverns in the ocean, you hit ooze at the bottom that Is pushing back the continents to create new continents. That Is the kind of subterranean level we are probing into when we look at the Dark Night and the Long March in terms of its expression In History.

First, therefore, the Dark Night of Selfhood and the Long March of Love are History itself. They are the way history is going on, has gone on, and will go on long into the future. That Is to say they are not some psychological expression of despair that you and I found because of trouble in some aspect of our lives.

This is the way the Mystery has planned it since the beginning. It Is over the Face of the Deeps that creation is spawned. The ancients were very clear and able to articulate that.

Everyman encounters a darkening darkness. That Is the way St. John of the Cross' dark alien Image comes to me these days. It is not only dark but darkening. You go into a cave and there you begin to experience darkness. You look into the darkness. You step further into the cave. It is so dark you do not think it could get any darker. You light your candle or flashlight to light things up and it goes out. A darkness that is just sheer blackness is there. It is that out of which History is born and created. Mankind today is experiencing that. A new kind of consciousness of consciousness has come into being this century. It has come through the technological revolution. It is almost that the technological revolution in all its many forms and escalations creates that dark alien image, is the dark alien image. Remember the kind of dramas and art that came in at the turn of the century. People wrote music that made people mad. People wrote novels about cities. They described how it was obvious that the city destroys human life, ruins young women, destroys vocational aspirations a young man might have and makes him a factory worker, a number, and so forth. Those are the kind of expressions of having faced the dark alien image. Those are the sociological manifestation of what man has experienced and will always experience in terms of his responding to the Mystery of life itself. Everyman encounters this ongoing, continuous, darkening darkness and therefore falls back, falls away, falls from that consciousness of consciousness that enters into his being. Something radical, total and unconditional is claimed of your life and that itself is Grace.

I suppose that RS­I gets that grounded well in our lives. Precisely that which we do not think we can face, is that out of which new life is coming and will emerge. I would hope that the Christ Word is there precisely in the midst of our articulation of man's experience of that. I remember the first time I experienced anything like a vocational call. It was not a pious occasion or a religious experience in the first instance. I can recall during my University days for some odd reason I sensed there was such a fracturedness and variety of things present in our world today, that I had to get as broad a possible education as I could. I took a lot more hours than is ever needed, and still did not get a broad education. I went through two or three universities and still did not get a broad education. That dark alien Image that invaded my being was saying I was not living in a universe where one could narrow oneself down to some specialty alone. I knew that call was there. The other thing was my intention to keep hold of the pulse beat of the times. I do not know why a 19 or 20 year old would try to think of a pulse. beat in history, hut somehow that occurred to me. I wanted to be In touch with what was going on. It took a long time to find a place where you could stand to get a hold of a pulse beat of our times. That is the kind of experience many of you as well have had. I have regretted both of these many times, yet they have never left me. I think that kind of testimony is what our age is about.

Second, men who live their Dark Night and Long March find a strange silence and stillness. Not everyman lives it. Those who by some quirk of fate or history have been able to live that have found there is deep meaning within the minute aspects and events of life. You find it 'not simply in­the broad sweeps off history, you find it in the everyday. You find it in the factory; you find it in the city you find it in the bus; you find it in these mundane experiences we had done our spins about. Precisely there is the kind of silence, the kind of stillness that men can experience I suppose if you had to write down right now what it was that made the 2Oth Century's glorious age from the perspective of several thousand years from now, you would have to say that man found peace. Yet when you look at his world, it does not look very peaceful.

Somehow that silence or stillness has come as a demand for integrity in dealing with every one­of those minute events that occur within my life. Every little claim, every passing down the hall, every letter that arrives in the mail, every phone call that comes, every demand from this or that comes as an absolute, total, radical claim that a man of integrity decides to deal with.

Third, the social realm is created out of this silence and stillness here and nowhere else. When Roszak talks about culture and the fulfillment that comes at the end of the wasteland, he is talking about what is happening. You are not creating some new social vehicle because you would like to have a better world to live in. You are deciding to participate in a ground swell that you can not stop and will not stop. It is the social realm History is birthing. God is creating our times. The dark image that comes out of the technological revolution intrudes, conquers our images and discloses that we have no alternative but to decide to live our lives in the city. That is what I liked about the movie "Death Wish". The tragedy was a man had decided to live in the city when all he had was a puny 32 pistol to be a vigilante with in the city. What more of a demand is there for adequate social tools! No wonder it was titled "Death Wish".

The only polity problem today is men do not know they can rely on the dark alien image of the 20th century. They can enter into and give themselves to it. It is always entered in without any certainties what­so­ever. The problem is not rulers with misdirected sense of integrity. The problem is the rule that has not kindled the flame that enables people to respond out of their own sense of needs. Such an enflamed people give their rulers some" thing to hold themselves honest before. I was a bit hopeful about Watergate for a while as I watched the judicial committee hearings. I tried to ferret out what those guys were about. I was a bit impressed with the determination of some of our congressmen. They were determined not just to resolve Watergate but to resolve the problems of the larger issues of Executive Branch and how it relates to the Legislative Branch. That determination was a spark of hope. Watergate is not the end of the earth. It is a sign of this emergence of a new social realm beyond the ideologies of any one of us. No wonder mankind today is in a deep swoon, to use the Dark Night image again. He is in a deep swoon all over the world. The problem in India is not that they have an impossible situation. The problem in India is they have been invaded by a dark alien image of possibility.' They have not been able, as yet, to enter into and cope with it. There is no greater task in word or deed than to give permission to enter into that darkness and fan the flames that will allow the last man and woman on the face of the globe to move into the creation of that social realm.

'Fourth, the created world comes from the religions of man. This is obvious. I would add, however, that we mean by religion of man the sociological expression of man's love, the way in which man hammers out the kind of depths of humanness needed to create their world in the face of obstacles. That love breaks the darkness that is there for every man into transparency. Love, therefore, is not a psychological feeling; it is not even a sociological deed,. Love is the fabric and form of the human race as it surges toward this eternal destiny. One of­the things that you have to say, theologically, about our time is mankind as a whole has faced death. That is what is its fate. As we know as individuals, when you face your death you have the possibility of creating your life. We know that Band-Aids for a three year old or for cities are not sufficient to cope with that. Therefore, we are about the job of creating the religion of the future, the religion of the globe.

What all this has been saying is the Dark Night of the Soul is the base of the creative process. Mankind is intruded upon by this alien image and that alien image is his success. It has been his ability to perform the deed that has rendered the 2Oth century the 20th century. Now that is being feed back upon him and he wonders what to do about it. I image myself at times as a global urban man and a Dark Image enters into my consciousness of what does that mean? I begin to sense what the computerization of technology means and another dark alien image enters my being. Some of us saw a movie together "Soylent Green". Its description of a Utopia 100 years from now is being born out as prices go up, food goes up, and so forth­­ it is going to happen!­­ if you stand as one who has not embraced the dark alien image. It is a Utopian movie because it points out what is going to go on in so far as men do not enter into that dark alien image.

This happens in all realms of your life. Precisely at the moment you do not think it is going to happen, it happens. Precisely when the region or area is beginning to sing and jump and come alive, you sense the raw possibility and demand, and a dark alien image takes place. You look, perhaps, simply into the face of Beauty, beauty in nature, beauty in people, wherever you want to find it. Suddenly that beauty itself begins to decay, crumble and become worm-eaten. The bone marrow itself is cancerous. You look through to the very dark that is human existence itself. That is where creation emerges .

The step of the Dark Night is irreplaceable and unavoidable. You do not live in the future without humiliation that is eternally necessary and is going to be eternally necessary. No Utopia is going to be built out of some idealistic vision you erect tomorrow. It will be done out of man's continual humiliation. Man is wiped out by his own inventions. He senses weakness even In the midst of his power­­ weakness to control that society that he is participating in. Resentment is always there. I find it very hard these days to come to meetings such as this and maintain my hidden agendas. I have them as I have always had them and always will have them, but I do not maintain them; I just resent them. I even resent what would happen if I did maintain them; they seem to evaporate, then. It is out of that we have the possibility of creating just whatever it is we are creating.

The suffering that goes on in the midst of our not caring anymore is irreplaceable and unavoidable. That suffering In the midst of not caring enough for any last human being that comes our way, that suffering and caring about our not caring, that eternal circle that seems to throw you in deeper and deeper darkness, Is irreplaceable and unavoidable. It is unavoidable for the task of the future.

I am pretty clear what human beings do when the darkness is not embraced or entered. Failing to enter the darkness results inevitably in bigotry. This happens when the Word is expressed to our lives. The dark image occurs. That wondrous, fear­filling God lecture or Bultmann paper or life situation, whatever it was that entered you and intruded upon your being, was declaring to you that your life could be lived. But your response was "No!"

Bigotry is built on a group or individual grabbing his guts saying "I cannot stand to be invaded," and then he strikes out to destroy whatever it is that is handy, whether or not it was that which invaded him. Bigotry is the major demon we deal with in our sociological realms. It occurred to me that racism was not even there until the dark alien image of the 20th century entered into man's consciousness. It was born out of a response that bigotry will not work, therefore, it is bigotry for racism: "I'll maintain my white standards no matter what." That finally collapses. You enter the next level of response to the Word and that is apostasy.

Apostasy is not a response to despair. Apostasy is response to the Word. It is the response to that which says this 20th century world is fantastic. It is a gift of humanness, a gift of an age, a gift to the future, When that Is declared over an age, I can no longer maintain my bigotry. I then have to say "Well, if life is not possible on my terms, then no life is possible." That is apostasy.

The voice enters maybe before that but certainly in the midst of that. Though ears do not often receive the vibrations of that voice, it none the less is there whispering, perhaps shouting, perhaps but saying, "Thou art my beloved son."

I thought we were confused on that for a while. My scriptural memory kept saying: "No, that was not what it said, it said "This is my 'beloved son.'" It was not talking to Jesus at all, but to John the Baptist or maybe the crowd. I looked it up­­it is used both ways. Matthew says "This is my beloved son"; Mark and Luke say "Thou art my beloved son.'' Who is it that hears that word? Is it the one who has been named to lay down his life­­ yes, certainly he is in on it or we would not have had the history we have had. Is it just him? As I reread those scriptures it seems it was saying to John the Baptist just what he was really doing, for John was not quite sure. It was also announcing to that crowd and maybe to the universe what was going on in their midst. This must be distinguished from some kind of subjective sense of well-being that floats over you from time to time. We know that through our teaching RS-I but at times we perhaps lose our way.

"Thou art my beloved son" always throws you into a confused state like Samuel or David or any of the rest. It always trips you up and makes you think something is demanded that you wanted to have demanded, such as your marriage. You get into the midst of the dark alien image that invades into your marriage and that dream marriage has gone. Even the more lucid among us who understood from before we ever entered marriage that marriage is missional are attacked by the dark alien image. You keep insisting that the Word that needs to be proclaimed over your marriage is that it is good or like you want it to be. That is not the Word. The Word says "This is my beloved Son" and therefore is utterly objective to you. It has nothing whatsoever to do with your evaluation of it. It just is in history. Whether you choose to take it out of history or not it will shape history as it is. There is no final hiding place from the darkness that is the Dark Night. We seek it quite often in the realm of marriage, but even the solace of the eyes cannot satisfy the yearnings of man. The silence that comes is eloquent. The very silence in the room anytime is eloquent, but now it is eloquent in its articulation of the beckoning creative possibility that is there within the darkness. John says all of your house is at rest; your wife is asleep, your Job is over, your children are asleep; everything is asleep and so you wander out to find the Mystery. The silence is there beckoning us and always comes as the impossible assignments are the right ones, not the ones you prefer. What seems to be said to us throughout the testimony of the ancients as well as our own lives is that it is the following of the darkening darkness that is man's possibility. You remember the Israelites who followed the cloud by day and the fire by night. I did not realize ­­that they got both the Dark Night and the Long March in there, but they did. You do not know the way the way is darkness. That sort of removes most of our excuses.

The Long March of Love is not something separate. It comes from that dark image, alien image that has wounded you, that has created a scar down your skull. I have seen the hatchet marked skull that was mine. That scar was filled with many kinds of events. It was filled with Calcutta, with the DMZ, with Daily Office. It was filled with RS­I; it was filled with hundreds of events that had clobbered my consciousness and forced me to care. For the flame of love that is kindled within comes that way and not the way we would like it to come. It comes out of the deep wound of the 10 ton crane. Yet, after the 10 ton crane hits you a few times and has set there long enough, you begin to think something is going to change ­ it does not. No interesting transformation of your being necessarily happens. No great vision comes out that says: Lo, here; Lo there. It is simply a crane on your head. The steps are perpetual; rootlessness, ineffectivity, loneliness, unfulfillment, on and on­and on. That is what the Word does in the midst of the Long March.

The Word perpetually uproots me. I try to get settled. I just would like to get settled in someplace­­ that is what our fathers of the past called idolatry. Idolatry is the reduction of life down to some value. It is not the acceptance of some non­value. It is the acceptance of some value to the exclusion of all others. I want the Word to be proclaimed to all Intellectuals, all artists, or all men of phase 3. I want some defined arena that I can care for by itself. The Word keeps uprooting me from that. When my idolatries will no longer be allowed, I have no other choice but to strike back at God himself. I do not curse too often but when I do I curse in God's direction. I do not curse God that is dangerous, do curse in His direction, Still, it is sacrilege. When I refuse the life that has been given me; when I refuse the marriage that has been given me; when I refuse this order that has been given us; when I refuse the city or whatever it may be, that is profanity. That is sacrilege, not simply idolatry.

Then the voice comes saying "This Is the Kingdom". You shout "Absurd!" "This is the kingdom? Where are the streets of gold, the sinlessness the Father on His throne?" Well' they are there but it is hard to see them when you are experiencing the ten­ton crane that forces you to care. It is your vocational crisis there, for In the midst of that you see all is for nothing.

When you see that deed that you do, that we do, in history is going down the drain of history, you wonder. "So what: A hundred years from now you will never see the manifestation of what we do. There is nothing to bite on that says " This is the vocation for any one of us. You can say that being the Religious is our Vocation but you discover there is nothing there to bite. Therefore, the Imperative In the New Testament is not to pick up that which you wanted to do in the first place. The imperative is: Go ye, therefore, into all the world. "Seek ye, first, this kingdom that is yours." Those are poetic ways to get this said. The stillness then is the power. I experience it as a buzz at the top of my forehead. I know when it is there and I know whom it is not there. It has something to do with prayer. What Is the discipline of prayer that keeps you In the stillness and away from all the dissipations that come within your life, pulling you this way and that.

The stillness is the dancing that comes when the Long March of Love is lived not on your terms but on the terms of history. The Marching itself is the fulfillment.

Finally, the Word was objectively present throughout. The voice, of course, that came saying, "Thou art my beloved", "'This is the Kingdom' is the Word''. It was there throughout, even when you closed your ears to It. You face this darkness and the darkness itself is light. There is the Word. It Is not the kind of Word you would have dreamed of; it is not the one you wished for; it Is the one Word and It is utterly objective. "Thou art my beloved Son" No sir, not me. I am saying no to the one address that is proclaimed upon the one life I have. Therefore, even my rebellions against the Word do not seem to get off with it. You do not come off with your rebelliousness. The Word has already been there ahead of you and the moment you are about to sin, just before you put down, the Word of forgiveness slips under that foot and you do not sin. You do not sin. The way our Fathers testified to this was that Jesus paid it off. There is no sin there because It has all been taken upon the Word Itself. Here Is where you fall In love with the All that Is the All. Here is where you discover the meaning of prayer that focuses your undisciplined being over­against the Mystery. The Word got you Into this to begin with, you recall, and it has brought you back to the social, to life, to your neighbor. It was your constant companion along the way even when you experienced loneliness. The Word was there whispering, shouting, in whatever way. It gave you permission to enter into tints Long March that is in the Dark Night. It has kept you there. Have you wondered about tints "in and out" bit. They used to call it deaf and dumb. I call it "in and out". You get "in" a while, and you get "out" a while it seems like. The Word has been there keeping you in.

The Word has released you to care. The exercise of prayer is about enforcing, bolstering the praying that is going on all the time­­ the prayer without ceasing. But what breaks prayer, stops it, interrupts it, dissipates it. Too much sleep does; not enough sleep does; sleep itself does maybe; study can break prayer and force you Into the Intellectual away from care. No study breaks prayer because you do not have your mind focused upon the care that it needs to be focused on. Discontinuity interrupts prayer and no discontinuity interrupts prayer. Approval by your colleagues interrupts it; disapproval stops it. What is it that breaks prayer? Prayer is the discipline without which you do not have steel, you do not have marching, you do not have strength to stand in the midst of the desert we all stand in.

To summarize justification and sanctification and their part in this, I will use this declaration of the Word: All mama's little boys are received in the universe­­ that is justification. Sanctification is simply that there are no mama's little boys. At age 5 at least they became mama's big boys and perhaps at age 6 mama did not approve of them anymore. Therefore, when you decide to be your Being; you are deciding to be that which remained when the hatpin pricked your illusions whatever they were. Sanctification is what was left. That is a riddle but at least that gives you an image.


­­ David McCleskey