I was about nine years old and it was evening in the little townhouse I shared with my mother in Ottawa. Mum had put on Loreena McKennit’s “The Mask and Mirror” and we were listening to it together, as we had many times before.

The third track came on, and Mum sat back and closed her eyes. “This is my favourite song on this album,” she sighed.

She had said this many times before, and I always felt curious about why. The piece was very pretty, but I did not find the lyrics themselves to be particularly interesting. Something about rushing off at night to meet one’s beloved. I have always thought my mother had a very refined sense of beauty. She had a deep appreciation for the profound. It was not like her to become sentimental over something which to me seemed so ordinary.

I finally decided to ask her. “Why do you like this song so much? It’s just a love song.”

“It is,” she said. “But it’s about God.”

I stared. “What do you mean?”

“The person who’s running out to meet the beloved – that’s the soul. And the beloved is God. That’s what the title means: ‘The Dark Night of the Soul.’ The soul is being called to God in bad times.”

As they say on Twitter: Mind. Blown.

This was my introduction to mysticism.


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