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.