According to Wikipedia, Spiritual Dryness or desolation is a lack of spiritual consolation in one’s spiritual life. It is a form of spiritual crisis experienced subjectively as a sense of separation from God or lack of spiritual feeling, especially during contemplative prayer.
Those of us experiencing spiritual dryness – another term for “I am not feeling like God is around”- are in good company. Many saints have experienced this, for example, St. “Mother” Teresa of Calcutta, St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila.
My journey through spiritual dryness
In 2017, I became aware of the term, and that awareness, that spiritual dryness exists, helped lead me back to my faith. I learned, as noted above, that I am in great company. And that it is probably part of the seasons of faith.
For a very long time, perhaps since around 2012 or 2013, I had not really felt the presence of God. I even went to the Holy Land, expecting to have a life-changing experience, and while it was a great experience, it was not life-changing. I did feel the presence of God, which convicted me of His existence, but there was no super-natural “I’ve-been-touched-by-Jesus” moment. There was no sudden re-conversion.
Even though the Great Pyramids of Giza truly are a wonder of the world, I enjoyed my time in Jerusalem a lot more than in Egypt. By no means am I minimizing the Great Pyramids, or the breathtaking beauty of Petra, or the beautiful beach in Dahab, there was just something special in Old Jerusalem. Yes, the sights were beautiful, but there was indeed some sort of holiness to the place.
Perhaps I had set my expectations a little too high, but you do read all the time about how wonderful so-and-so’s experience in the Holy Land was, almost like there was something magical. While I felt no magic, I was able to affirm that God exists, just is not always felt.
On the up and up
I am still trying to figure out why, other than there are seasons. When I was 15 or so, almost every encounter with God I had was really special. There was always some kind of beautiful feeling and God’s presence with it. It was a season of great belief. But as I aged and grew farther away from the faith for several reasons, I stopped feeling this greatness when I pray, leading to Spiritual Dryness. I believe there is a God that I should dutifully obey, but He is not felt.
Either way, it seems like this season of dryness is on its way out. I am feeling more the presence of God, and His graces.