Dark night or self-imposed dry spell? Sometimes it has been difficult to tell. I know there are times I throw up barriers because I sense a pending tasking that I do not want to do, am impatient for a fix that I think I can bring about rather than waiting upon God, worrying about something rather than letting go, or arrogantly thinking I may be important for some reason other than as a creation by God for God.
There has been one definite dark night that I passed through. Fortunately, I was able to recognize it for God prepared me for it by allowing me to support a friend through his dark night. I did not like my dark night on iota, but it was definitely a metanoic experience in which I learned the value of volition and belief.
Most recently, when I began again to experience a dry spell, I was once again emplacing barriers or experiencing the descent of another dark night. Either way, having arrived in Washington, DC after a short 5-hour red-eye trip and spending all day at the Pentagon in difficult meetings that ended in triumph for all present, followed by dinner with a colleague I had first met in Afghanistan, I was exhausted -- too exhausted for contemplative prayer (at least, for the lectio and meditation part). So, I flopped into bed with a cry into the desert, into which my prayers seemed to have been going as of late, asking God not to leave me in the desert but just to be with me for the night even if, perverse me, I felt too tired to communicate in any coherent -- or even nonverbal -- fashion. Suddenly, I felt encased in a warm, loving cocoon that I recognized as the Presence of God, snuggled in for the night, and opened my eyes, fully rested as the new morning light washed over me the next day.
The gift of that cocoon left me with gratitude enough to cover weeks (or more) of metaphysically sleeping on the desert if that is how it must be. Just as the setting sun is still in the heavens during the night, I know that God is with me in those (thankfully, few) moments when I do not feel His presence.
Perhaps I should not say "thankfully few" because those are the moments when God is trying to get me -- yes, perverse me -- to grow in faith. One day, perhaps, I will have gratitude even for the Absence, but I fear that is going to require considerably more maturation.