The cause of his anguish and misery during the dark night of soul was that he thought that he was not doing enough for God. He had set too high a standard for himself. In his own words:
"The fear that I had not given myself to God as I desired, my sins always present before my eyes, and the great graces God gave me were the sum and substance of all my miseries.”
His biographer, who had frequent contacts with him over a period of thirty-five years states: "….in this deplorable state he often went to a private place…..his heart distraught, and completely bathed in his tears, he poured out his feelings before his God…..”
What ended this turmoil? In his own words:
"Once I accepted the fact I might spend the rest of my life in this troubled state of mind…I found myself changed all at once. And my soul, until that time always in turmoil, now experienced a profound inner peace…”
What is the purpose of the dark night of soul? Why does God, often, put the seekers through these terrible ordeals? Brother Lawrence gives two answers to it. His first answer, in his own words, is,”…that it is normal for His divine providence to abandon us to all sort of trials, miseries and temptations.”The second purpose of these tribulations is to purify the soul
For rest of his life (approximately forty years), he would be ‘enjoying continual inner consolations. sometimes so intense, that he would be forced to do childish things to conceal them’ . '….nothing worried or frightened him ‘. He told his friends that God let nothing go without immediately rewarding him a hundredfold, often giving him such exquisite experiences and tastes of His divinity that they sometimes overwhelmed him , making him say … "It is too much, Lord, it is too much for me!…”
Is this method (of constant conversation) easy? In my humble opinion, no. The greatest problem is the control of one’s thoughts, which is very very difficult. I have tried it. Thoughts keep on wandering. Sometimes hours will pass before you remember to think of God. Brother Lawrence himself admits, "The beginning is very difficult”.
And what do you talk to God about, a layman may ask? Won’t you soon run out of things to say? In reality, this difficulty is only theoretical. Actually, you hardly talk, but you bring your attention back to God, and adore Him, constantly, humbly, and joyfully. You may doubt my statement, but it is true. The reason that you are able to do so, quite easily, is that you are in love with God. Love for God is the gasoline that drives this automobile. Without love for God in your heart, you cannot travel the path of God-realization. Not by this method (there are other paths in which love for God may not be essential).
To be continued in next installment.