For those who experience the dark night of glory as a teenager, darkness of unknowing dazzles early, leaving a life-time of paradox, where affirmation is negation and negation is affirmation. Of course, there are the usual temporal unfoldings in one’s twenties and timeless awakenings in one’s thirties, but these contrasts and changes gradually turn into an increasingly steady abiding in unconditioned awareness of uncreated presence, an unveiling of wisdom that embraces glory as paradoxically both dark yet dazzling. The dark cloud of unknowing remains but the cloud no longer obscures uncreated light because uncreated glory is shining in the midst.
It is not that anyone achieves anything but that all achievement falls away as awareness awakens to presence stripped of every created characteristic, as uncreated presence sustains awareness freed of grasping and clinging. Scripture speaks of wisdom discerning the glory of grace in this presence that sustains awareness, awakening awareness to glory with an unfolding of deeper and deeper self-emptying, God’s vision of God-centred glorification of God. It is as if the teenager’s dark night stripped him of all notions of Holy Trinity, unveiling presence so dazzling with uncreated light that the uncreated glory of Holy Trinity becomes the revealing revelation rather than something revealed. Unveilings and veilings cease to waver but simultaneously manifest all at once, both dark and dazzling in their timeless glory.
When uncreated glory comes to wed uncreated light, the temporal experience of successive illuminations and dark nights of sense and spirit turns inside out and outside in, manifesting timeless coincidence of opposites and union of contraries. It is not that the dark night ceases to be dark but that the darkness increasingly dazzles the darker it becomes. The experience of paradox increases in its critical tension so that what changes is the mode and manner of glory’s veiling and unveiling, whilst wisdom abides steadfast in the midst.
Difference in God manifests different divine names in an infinite revelation of ineffable difference in veiled oneness, difference that is radical in its paradoxical extremes even as it is irreducible to the narrow extremisms of confusion or division. Kataphatic affirmation functions as profound negation, whilst apophatic negation functions as trusting affirmation. Glorification purifies as it illumines, undoing all temporal succession, as timeless fullness of time, KAIROS, dissolves chronological time in the radiant glory of its timeless simultaneity. The paradoxes become more and more extreme but are simultaneously freed more and more profoundly from all reified extremism. It is as if everything is unveiled in its dazzling ineffability even as it transcends every sort of dualistic objectification.
When seers eventually appear old and white hairs greet arthritic limbs with a smile, wisdom delights in glory however he chooses to veil or unveil her dazzling presence. Temporal changes no longer trouble timeless wisdom, hidden wisdom beholding timeless glory, because human being is no longer just human but lives divine-humanly in Christ, discerning in the Spirit the glory of grace that was promised in Baptism and sealed at Chrismation. The mysteries of the Eucharist turn out to be how things really are, nameless union and humble communion on the other side of successive dark nights and dazzling illuminations. What looked in one’s teens like a journey, turns out to be God-centred abiding where God glorifies God through God in the midst. Holy Trinity is just how it is here, not something revealed but the revealing itself as it imparts itself as mysteries of glory to the saints. Meeting an elder in one’s teens was overwhelming, but empties itself, as it is fulfilled, into a much older ‘handing-over’ that elders do when what inspires them hands itself on in spite of them.
Everything turns inside out and outside in as elders befriend saints and saints become elders, freely handing on what was so freely received. It is all so very simple and straight-forward when nothing separates God from God, when oneness is unconfused and hallowing difference knows no division. Union used to look like something to be achieved sometime in the future but shows itself to be always already present in the awareness of presence and the presence of awareness. Seers have no reputation when glory is unveiled to wisdom and no-one is claiming to be wise. Love of wisdom does not usurp wisdom, which is idolatrous confusion, or exile wisdom, which is divisive separation. Elderly elders, witnesses to resurrection, are dead already, martyred witnesses to ascending glorification. Wisdom waits on glory to unveil God as glory, glory that is dark yet dazzling, as night gives way to day, here on earth, every day.
Dazzling glory continues to appear dark to rational conception and sense perception, although to the darkness of wisdom’s profound unknowing, it dazzles as it illumines and glorifies the saints. As teen-agers, they thought union was far off, so they sought temporal ways and means to close the gap. As elderly elders, they live union as the air they breathe, bearing witness to the union of awareness and presence as air purified of satanic separation and demonic division. The powers of darkness cannot persist in their airy machinations when wisdom sees through them, when air is translucent with uncreated light, when darkness dazzles despite itself, when wisdom dissolves the vanity of vainglory into the glory that sustains wisdom. Dazzling glory reveals dark nights to be bright daylight in the uncreated light of glory. So what terrified the teen-ager, transfigures the seer. What fear saw as deprivation, wisdom sees as deification. Self-emptying reconfigures everything over the years, veiling what it unveils, unveiling what it veils. Extreme paradox undoes every parody, shattering the leaden appearance as it uncovers the glowing gold. Dark nights are as they always were, but without fear, the sting of death spirals into dazzling glory, welcoming us home.