In our early spiritual development, we must let our experiences surface without judging them nor trying to repress them with an iron will. As this surfacing of the disorders of the human heart takes place over time, we learn how to sort through and discard those thoughts, feelings, and desires which are the working of the devil and embrace those inspirations which are the work of the Holy Spirit. Instead of trying to ignore and repress our temptations and interior chaos, we must learn a delicate art of rejecting the lies of the devil in ways that harness observation and surrender. This, in turn, robs the enemy of his power and influence by allowing the Holy Spirit to heal and transform our woundedness.

However, there comes a point when we begin to sense that the movements of the heart go deeper than our ability to express. As the cloud of disordered thinking begins to dissipate, a whole host of sensations and experiences surface which do not readily translate themselves into easy labels. Navigating this new terrain can help us to harness incredible potential as we learn to work with our bodies and our interior life. In this way, our observation leads us into what St. John of the Cross referred to as a dark, obscure knowledge.

Such a knowledge is two-fold: We learn more about God and we also learn more about ourselves. Or perhaps we can put it another way. Our discovery of God’s presence working in the depths of our hearts teaches us our true identity in Christ. Thus self-knowledge is intrinsically interconnected with our knowledge of God. As we come to experience God through the sacraments and our private interiorization of these mysteries, we likewise come to experience and interiorize a whole new horizon of our own existence.

That is why St. Paul so succinctly explained that “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). Our coming to dwell and participate in Christ’s relationship with the Father means that the darkness of our personal experience becomes a powerful means by which Christ reveals himself to us at every moment. Christ dwells within our experience, and in this way no detail remains beyond the grasp of his divinizing light. Mindfulness is no longer divorced from intimacy, but the two involve a drama of communion whereby lover and beloved are united.

Therefore, we must give ourselves time for this daily exploration. We must make the opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to search our hearts in the hidden life of prayer in order that he will illumine within us a deeper knowledge of who we are in Christ. There is no substitute for giving God such time and all who do so will discover a whole new life in and through Christ.