Listen Heart

Listen Heart
Joseph Anthony Petro


Go easy on yourself.
You’re working hard giving birth to the soul.
Allow yourself to rest awhile in a bed of light,
And in the coolness of the soft-winged darkness—
The one that cradles seeds and roots,
The one that carries starlight faithfully on its shoulders
All those millions of millennia.
OK, so the mind you’re with has made some mistakes—
Cut him some slack. He is learning to live unchained
While at the same time bound in God’s care.
You say you feel empty and yet full of sorrow?
Those are contractions from what I am told.
Try and stay steady. I know you’re young,
You always will be. But you and the mind
Must work together during this process,
And you must take the lead.
I realize he is often busy in some fantasy, hating himself–
Find a way, lean on others—the midwives
You know so well. Let them help you,
Hold you, coach you along.
You are doing precious, incredible work—
So precious you might want to call it play–holy play.
You are freeing the soul from waves
That course in and out of you–
The ones that toss even the mind
Up and down in swirling eddies,
So the more light-hearted you can be the better.
And the mind is helping you
By learning to stay present no matter what you are feeling,
And your light helps him for he lives in darkness
Much of the time. So play. Play in hands of light,
And let the soul go, dear heart. Let her go, like a song,
Like a breath, like a prayer wept when you have no strength left.
Let her go the same way you want me to let you go,
The same way I want the mind to let me go—gently, gradually—now
And perfectly, with grace, humor, and dignity.
And while you and the mind work together on this,
I will be here, wrapped in silence, trying to believe
What I tell you–trying to believe that no matter what happens,
I am worthy of love.





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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