I have been thinking (and reading) about the first step in the Threefold Path of mysticism: purification or purgation. (As an aside, when I googled it I got a lot of results for “laxatives”!)

This aspect focuses on discipline, particularly in terms of the human body; thus, it emphasizes prayer at certain times, either alone or with others, and in certain postures, often standing or kneeling. It also emphasizes the other disciplines of fasting and alms-giving, the latter including those activities called “the works of mercy,” both spiritual and corporal, such as feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless.

In essence, it is a step of negation – of stripping the body of its attachment to this world. And in a positive sense, it is a step of focusing on the things of God and, of course, on God Himself. All in a desire to experience the presence of God. Sometimes purification, in this sense, is a choice of the individual, sometimes it is due to circumstances. The aim is union with God and a fuller experience.

I am very encouraged by how God uses “darkness” to draw people closer to Himself. Often in suffering and pain, God reveals Himself to the individual. God reveals Himself on the cross and the individual is called to see Jesus in their cross and suffering. I am called to embrace my suffering and pain as a moment of revelation or experience of God.

God reveals Himself as Light in the darkness. And only in complete darkness can I only see Him.

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