Association of Catholic Publishers 2012 Excellence in Publishing Awards:
God in the Dark takes second place in “Prayer and Spirituality” category

“Eros is one of God’s names.” The late Dorothee Soelle wrote these words in “Mysticism and Resistance,” and Christian writers are increasingly meeting God under this strange and ancient name. A growing number of books address either our longing for God or our grief when suffering comes and God seems far away. What is lacking is work that shows the relationship between our longing and our grief. “God in the Dark” portrays suffering and desire as the two faces of passion, and passion itself as the essential energizing force of the spiritual life.

Western Christianity in the twenty-first century urgently needs to know both sides of passion. The religious routines, partisan squabbling and mundane daily upkeep of the institutional church often obscure the passionate love at the heart of the gospel. Overburdened by the demands of our lives, we settle for an hour of peace each week over intimacy with the living God, and what began as a love affair cools into a banal religious complacency. “God in the Dark” invites readers to reconsider the God whom the Bible describes as both “love” (I John 4:8) and a “consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).

There is also an acute need among spiritual seekers for a better understanding of suffering, especially spiritual suffering. Many people were shocked to learn through her letters that Mother Teresa had spent much of her life in a state of spiritual darkness. The struggle to reconcile this with her reputation for holiness reveals that the role of darkness and suffering in the spiritual life is not widely understood. “God in the Dark” invites readers to reinterpret the dark nights of their lives, to learn that darkness is not necessarily a place of failure and abandonment, but can be a place of intimacy and growth. When we learn that God does some of his best work in the dark, we will be drawn there by our desire, and when the night closes in around us, we will welcome its embrace.



In an accessible style, laced with rich metaphors, wry humor, and down-to-earth explanations, Susan Pitchford guides the reader to a fresh knowledge and appreciation of the Christian mystical journey. Since mysticism is about relationships, it inevitably involves passion (the enemy of boredom and apathy), whose two faces are desire (God desires us infinitely more than we desire God), and suffering (life’s pain can be understood in positive, life-giving ways). . . . This book is an antidote to contemporary cynicism and indifference, a goad to those who desire to infuse their spirituality with new life and vigor.
Elizabeth Dreyer, Department of Religious Studies, Fairfield University, Connecticut

Many Christians play it safe by practicing a tepid, no-risk spirituality in which we domesticate the roaring Lion of Judah into a nice, safe pussycat. Susan Pitchford’s beautifully written book reminds us that an authentic relationship with God, others, and self depends on an embrace of whole-bodied desire on the one hand and the possibility of suffering on the other. This is a book that liberates us to let God be both the passionate Lover and the Roaring Lion God is.
Kerry Walters
Author of The Art of Dying and Living

[From the Foreword:] There be in God, some say, a deep but dazzling darkness.’ The 17th century poet Henry Vaughan expresses a vital truth, which is explored with intelligence, passion and humor by Susan Pitchford. In spite of her disclaimers to be a theologian, her book is a discerning work of the moral and theological imagination. It is an exploration well suited for our times, marked as they are, by both shallowness and fierceness in religion. The God of God in the Dark is passionate and intractably mysterious. And because we are all made in that divine image, so we too are driven by passion to embrace the unknown. Spirituality isn’t a `product.’ It can neither be bought nor sold and Susan Pitchford skewers this misunderstanding with down-to-earth accessible writing, marked with humor and honesty. The book is refreshing and yet stands in a long mystical tradition.
Alan Jones
Dean emeritus of Grace Cathedral

Susan R. Pitchford has penned (or at least word processed!) a new book with a master’s touch in God in the Dark. Coming from a Franciscan orientation she has tapped into a broad spectrum of the ancient mystical heritage of Christianity in a way that speaks to the average person in a fast paced, modern world. Readers will find it a fine addition to their modern mystical books, or a great introduction to the mystical tradition for new seekers and first time readers.
John Michael Talbot
Founder, and Spiritual Father
The Brothers and Sisters of Charity at Little Portion Hermitage

This remarkable book is a passionate call for the recovery of the Catholic tradition of passionate spiritual search. With her intensely personal and unflinchingly honest writing, the author encourages the seeker on a journey through suffering and joy, darkness and loneliness, towards enlightenment and union. Her special friends and guides on the difficult yet wonderful journey are the Beguine mystics of the fourteenth century, and other eccentric and (as she says) ‘weird’ friends, ancient and contemporary. This is a book for now: the author refuses to stick with no longer relevant spiritual metaphors or to accept once revered spiritual practices just because they are old. There is a freshness here, and a delightfully frank humor, but most of all a passionate love.
Rosemary Luling Haughton, PhD (honorary), theologian, author of The Passionate God, The Catholic Thing, Gifts in the Ruins

Tapping into a broad spectrum of Christianity’s ancient mystical heritage, Susan Pitchford uses an accessible style and wry humor to offer readers a fresh awareness and appreciation of Christian mysticism and how it still thrives in the midst of today’s fast-paced, hard-edged world.