246. “She’s the dark nurse of the soul.”

The episode:General Hospital pt. 1,” the short in front of “Manhunt in Space,” ep. 413

The riff: Noted by Tom about the dreary nurse who appears to be this short’s main character, wrapped in a dark cloak around her hospital whites.

The explanation: Tom is referencing the phrase “dark night of the soul,” which describes both a 16th-century poem by Catholic mystic Saint John of the Cross and a spiritual condition known as “spiritual dryness.” According to those who have experienced it, a “dark night of the soul” is essentially the sensation of being cut off or apart from God’s sight. It is especially devastating to those who are most devout, who cannot feel close to God even during contemplative prayer. Surprisingly, the condition has affected many people famous for their faith. Mother Teresa’s diaries, released in 2007, revealed that she suffered from spiritual dryness for decades of her life.

Novelty factor: I am not a particularly religious person, but I have always found the concept of the long, dark night of the soul to be very interesting.

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