Center of the Universe

Center of the Universe
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 

Imagine the idea that you are the center of the universe
Is true. Imagine from where you stand a big bang unfurls creating everything around you.
Of course, some big bangs will be experienced as whispers,
Or deep sighs of acceptance after years of working hard to simply trudge
Another step. Imagine the universe blossoming through your blossoming;
That all space and time is hereby localized in you.
Imagine being a focal point of God’s light, an emissary of the moment—
The very ways and means of God’s omnipotence. Imagine it’s you and I
And every sentient being experiencing being alive all at the same time.
Imagine galaxies gracefully unfolding their arms from the center of your heart,
Stars forming from a single thought, planets set to spinning from an impulse
To play.

Imagine self-centeredness being a blessing.
Imagine it meaning something altogether different
From what we usually think it means.
Imagine it means the complete desire to serve and to share,
To create and to inspire, to let go of rather than hold on to.
Imagine it is the way in which we imagine self-centeredness
That selfishness of the most terrible kind arises.

Imagine opening your eyes and seeing everything revolve around you,
And imagine everyone else doing the same, so that everyone would see together
Through their own unique lens the eternal dance of now.

Imagine God seeing through you,
Breathing through you,
Thinking and loving and touching through you,
And the gift is you get to feel what it’s like
To be light,
To be breath,
To be a vessel
Of divinity.

Imagine then your choice in all of this is whether or not
To close yourself off and turn away, or to be yourself–
An absolutely true center of the universe.

Imagine making your decision and then turning towards the momentum
And joining the dance.

 

 


 





The Revelation is Now

The Revelation is Now
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

Where do I begin?
The revelation is now.
When will I die?
The revelation is now.
How can I trust?
The revelation is now.
What will happen next?
The revelation is now.
Should I get my things in order?
The revelation is now.
Shouldn’t I be worried?
The revelation is now.
Isn’t there something else I need to be doing?
The revelation is now.
Will there be blinding flashes of light?
The revelation is now.
Which way will I go?
The revelation is now.
Which direction is true?
The revelation is now.
The horizon, will I reach it?
The revelation is now.
Will I suffer anymore?
The revelation is now.
Will there be healing for these old, open wounds?
The revelation is now.
Will you be there waiting?
The revelation is now.
Will I feel you holding me?
The revelation is now.
So much is falling away,
I don’t know what to hold on to
Or what to let go of.
The revelation is now.
Is it really OK to be happy?
The revelation is now.
Do you really want me?
The revelation is now.
Empty my bags? Anything.
The revelation is now.
Scatter my old ideas into the sea?
The revelation is now.
Take your hand?
The revelation is now.
You need my ‘yes’ before we go any further?
The revelation is now.
Yes. I am yours.
The revelation is now.
I’m trying not to be afraid.
The revelation is now.
Fear is falling away.
The revelation is now.
I believe you will never leave me.
The revelation is now.
May I have this dance?
The revelation is now.
Look! We are dancing on a river of light.
The revelation is now.
Will we dance like this forever?
The revelation is now.


 




Foundations

Foundations
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 

Listen, O ears of my soul,
Hear past sounds and any meaning
The mind gives the sounds,
Listen through the chatter
And traffic, and everyday sonancy
To the Foundation Song
Exhaling steadily through all creation.

Look, O eyes of my soul,
See past appearances and any judgments
The mind assigns the images,
See through replicas and glitter,
And shifting shadows
To the Foundation Light
Shining steadily through all creation.

Taste, O tongue of my soul,
Discern past flavors and any cravings
The mind makes you think
You must obey.
Savor through the empty calories,
The sweetness and bitterness,
And everyday seasonings
To the Foundation Bread
Nourishing steadily all creation.

Feel, O body of my soul,
Breathe past fear and any memories
That say you shouldn’t experience bliss,
Rise past shame and the torturous ideas
That pleasure is somehow wrong
To the Foundation Joy
Cresting steadily through all creation—
Spilling you, emptying you, filling you,
Lifting you to sink into heaven’s bed
Where you are allowed to desire desire,
Where you are allowed to be ravished
And to ravish, where it is safe to lose yourself
And find yourself in the rapturously
Catching breath of the Beloved.

 

 

 

 


 





Prodigal Song

Prodigal Song
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 

Little by little,
More and more
Is being carved away,
Hollowed out,
Emptied out,
Ruled out,
Clarified,
Loosened,
Released,
And unblocked.
Little by little,
More and more
This uncluttering
And diminishing
Leaves me clear
And open and ready
For Your breath
To flow through me,
For Your fingers
To nimbly cover
And uncover the holes
In my memories
And what I think
I want and need,
Ready for You to play
Through me
The song You know
I most want to sing,
The song You compose,
The song You arrange,
The song You gave me
In the beginning
When You first kissed
My forehead
And let me go.

 

 

 


 





Along the Way

Along the Way
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 

Along the Way

 

I will fumble for the right words,
Old ideas I’ve built around how I think
Everything should go will crumble,
And there will be no doubt that again
And again I will stumble and fall.
I will bumble a big deal.
I will mumble telling the truth.
I will grumble when following
Someone else’s directions.
My thoughts will become entangled
In a jumble of feelings.
And through it all, the stomach of my soul
Will rumble with hunger for You, and You alone.
Along the way, which is of course, here and now,
The earth will be calling my name,
And as I draw closer to You, You will somehow
Tie heaven and earth together as I kneel
And allow my self to be lifted and placed
Securely in the lap of the way it is,
Where all of the fumbling and crumbling,
Stumbling and bumbling, mumbling
And grumbling, jumbling and rumbling
Will settle where it needs to be,
Which is in the sacrament
Of the present moment and me being
Humble.

 


 

 

 





What If?

What If?
By
Joseph Anthony Petro
Inspired by Father J.P. de Caussade, S.J.

What if we were being written as we speak,
As we live, as we move? What if our lives were one
Interconnected, interwoven revelation? One story,
One plot, one theme? What if our every step and breath
Were known, seen, loved, and allowed to unfold
In ways that always and ever ended with breath-taking
New beginnings, and that every new beginning
Was somehow more beautiful, unexpected, and startling
Than the last? What if every revelation, every new chapter,
Every page was part of one book of life in which the author intended,
Willed and wanted the very best for each and every character
And that every word, punctuation mark, indentation,
And sentence was composed through you with foresight and wisdom,
And that somehow, matter what it seemed like fit together perfectly,
And that when we went back and read what was written
It all made sense and we said, “Of course, that was meant to be?”
What if, despite not liking some of the twists and turns
And cliffhangers, or the sudden, unexpected
Exits of our favorite characters, or the annoying returns
Of ones we just can’t stand, that no matter how
Convoluted, distressing, painful, or tragic it all seems,
That the arc of the story is eternal and the ultimate
Storyline is a road to everlasting joy and a deeper understanding
Of who we really are? What if the more that drops away
As we go on reading, and the more the story
Simplifies, that we become lighter and lighter until one day,
On what we thought was the last word, the letters suddenly lift, like
So many birds scattering heavenwards,
And the story continues, unfettered, untangled,
Unencumbered by the confines of the language
Of time and space and expectation, and we soar, completely free
In a radiant book of thanks?

 


 

 

 




Runner

Runner
By
Joseph Anthony Petro
I am a runner. I have spent my whole life
Up to this point running from things.
Pain, for example. I run from pain,
And the past, the future, and the truth
Of myself. Sometimes I run long distances
Before even realizing I’m running; but there I am
Running—things flying by in my wake and there’s no time
To lose. Sometimes the road gives way
And a ledge or a wall suddenly appear
And I find myself collapsing out of nowhere
Into a ball of exhaustion and shame.
Sometimes I run headlong into the very things
I am trying to avoid since they feel
So strangely familiar. And sometimes
Time does the running for me, like
On the days I lose myself staring at the ceiling
As the summer afternoon runs by my window, like
A ribbon of light filled with the sounds
Of children playing and lawn mowers
And passing airplanes.
Lately, another more tragic truth has revealed itself:
I also run from things no one should ever
Feel compelled to run from. Things like
Joy—pure, unadulterated joy. Joy that encompasses
Pleasure both earthly and heavenly—joy
That doesn’t know the difference between the two;
Joy that includes perfection and imperfection,
Fullness and emptiness and once again,
Could care less which is which. Joy that’s comprised
Of puddles, whimsy, praise, and just the right amount
Of mischief. And most of all a joy constituted
With divinity—the steady, ringing divinity
That shimmers just below the surface of all things.
Sometimes I run from that very joy.
Today I see and accept that I am a runner,
And in this moment—this one, this one right here
I choose to pause, collect myself, breathe and focus
And hone in on joy. I see it up ahead,
It looks like a field of darkness illuminated by a carnival of fireflies,
It looks like a horizon blooming with light and song.
I see it. I breathe it. I taste it. It’s there.
So here I go, I’m running again,
Only this time I am going to run straight towards joy,
And I am going to keep on running
No matter what anyone says or does not say,
No matter what anyone does or does not do,
No matter what happens or does not happen,
No matter what appears to be or actually is—
I am going to keep on running until the running
Becomes dancing and then I’m going to run some more
Towards what I was and what I am created for.
I am a runner and I am going to run towards joy.

 

 


 


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Suggestion

Suggestion
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 

Life isn’t like a rollercoaster with steep, anticipatory climbs
And sudden, exhilarating drops. It’s more like walking through the woods
Along a path that keeps disappearing and reappearing
At seemingly random points along the way.
The next time it disappears, walk only
Until you find a level enough space to pitch a tent,
And then spread out all your stuff—your current, new-fandangled (and unreliable)
Compass, your dented kettles, your books and journals,
Pocketknives and pieces of flint, and your old, crumbling
Provisions wrapped in old, crumbling tin foil, and hunker down
For the night, or the better part of a day or a week,
Or until you begin to feel like a caterpillar tired of its own cocoon,
And when that happens, wriggle out of your sleeping bag,
Crawl through the narrow, triangular opening,
Stand, stretch, look around, scratch your head, and you’ll find–there,
Where you hadn’t noticed it before, will be the path,
And today it might be inclining upwards, and just the sight of it
Will be enough to make your legs ache,
But slowly get down on your hands and knees anyway,
And start packing everything back up, stuffing everything
Back down in your knapsack, and then tie on the kettles
And hoist the whole kit and caboodle over your shoulders,
Where it will likely knock you off balance a little,
But then steady yourself, take a deep breath,
And start trudging again.
And after awhile of walking, looking at the ground,
If you keep your sense of awareness at the ready,
You will suddenly bump into another hiker
And you’ll walk, side by side, sharing stories,
Things you’ve seen and heard along the way,
And suddenly, without either of you even realizing it
The weight on your backs will have lightened,
And the path, no matter whether it’s clear or not,
Will be clear now that you’ve fallen in step
With someone else heading to the same place;
That place, over there, that’s really actually here,
Where you’re walking, together, on the journey
To yourself, to each other, to the wide open space
Called Freedom.


 

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What To Do

What to Do
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 

If you fumble around long enough
Words will turn up.
The trick is to keep searching.
Look under the dusty cushions
Of old ideas,
Or in the loose pockets
Of worn out prejudices,
Thumb through the flat, leather wallet
Of your past accomplishments,
Reach for the every day,
Explore the every where,
Touch the faces of revelation,
Brush open the hands of wonder.
Most of all, allow your awareness
To settle into the moment, like
A butterfly settling on a flower,
Or better yet, like a tone
Blossoming from a bell.
Your life is brimming
With meaning. This moment
Is ringing with the One
Word that holds all words,
That lifts all burdens into sunlight;
This moment, this life–look here,
Look now.

 

 

 


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Insight

Insight
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 

Today as I prayed, I imagined standing
Near a sandy beach, and as I did, fear vanished
And so did anger, resentment, jealousy, and shame.
All that was left was an ocean
Of sorrow, and an ocean of joy,
And I am convinced in this moment that the soul
Knows only these two emotions: joy and sorrow.
The rest of them belong to the mind.
And the body has the blessing (or curse,
As the case may be) of feeling them all.
Of course fear will crop up
Any minute now, or some ancient shame
Will appear out of nowhere
And turn my gaze once again to the ground.
That said, I hold to the idea
The beach inspired: the soul only knows two emotions.
A boat cannot sail across an ocean of anger.
Only over heaves of sorrow or
Buoyant ripples of joy can a vessel
As fragile as ours get anywhere.
And all the other emotions pass.
Only joy and sorrow remain—
Waves of sorrow, like wind
Through reeds, currents of joy,
Like fingers through harp strings,
Sorrow that wanders abandoned houses,
Joy that claps its hands with praise,
Sorrow, limitless, and dark as night,
Joy, shimmering, like a sea of gold.
The eternal dance of union and longing–
The substance and form of all we ever wanted
And all that we are, or ever shall be,
Is made up of the rhythms of joy and sorrow.
So I will hold still and I will sing,
For today I know the soul’s journey
Is sure, the soul’s journey is born
On waves of sorrow and currents of joy,
And ends on the shore where the Beloved waits,
In perfect peace, to welcome us home.


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