We’re Going In! The Inner Journey of the Dark Night

One of my favorite quotes is from Thomas Merton: “The real journey in life is interior, and ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts.”

This interior journey is embodied in work of the 12-Steps, and the Steps are the foundational work for The Gateways. The inner walk also correlates with The Hero’s Journey, first popularized in epic Greek poem, “The Iliad and the Odyssey”, by Homer, and described centuries later as a distinctly spiritual process, by Joseph Campbell, and then of course in Star Wars!

On the Hero’s Journey, it is essential to go deeper, and into the unknown places, in order to find true home again. The 12-Steps are indeed a Hero’s Journey, and after the foundational work of Steps 1-3, we find ourselves at the place of needing to go into the inner dark. Saint John of the Cross calls this The Dark Night of the Soul, and we all encounter it at some point or another.

In the classic Hero’s Journey, this is called “The Descent”. Often we discover that we are in the process of descending, and we feel fearful, but the good news is that addressing the cause of fear is at the heart of working the Hero or Heroine’s Journey of Gateway Four.

Following The Descent is the “Not Knowing”, and if you are like me, this is worse than descending! Not knowing scares me, and probably does most people. It seems though that once we have accepted that we are on the inner descent, meaningful questions begin to emerge.

“What have I created in my life? I don’t want this anymore!”

From this place in the limbo of the “Not Knowing”, we turn a corner, and actually begin to embrace the emptiness, and are able to see what is next for us. This is the beginning of the way out and up, classically described as “The Ascent”. It seems too, that the more self-aware we become, the more we may go through multiple descents and rebirths, so this Gateway Four work can be understood as the beginning of a lifelong evolutionary process of renewal.

Gateway Four is the fulcrum upon which a life of inner work that transforms pivots. To begin this level of work, it is always advised to be working with someone who is able to accompany you on the journey, to reflect back to you, to really hear you and to bring safety to the journey.

Bless you, as you begin the work of the Inner Journey of the Dark Night, of Step Four.

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Rev. Dr. Galloways best-selling book The Gateways is available through Sacred Stories Publishing, Amazon, and all major booksellers and combines a strength based approach to utilizing the depth principles of the 12-Steps, combined with Psycho-spiritual tools and practices to anchor in the practice of each step.