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  • Writer's pictureJoseph R. Goodall

A Galaxy of Good

A colorful paper collage button on a bed of brown leaves

There’s a galaxy of good in your existence

Though terror persists and hope seems hidden

There are beautiful patterns aloft in the sky

Even as you await the faithful sunrise


There’s a gaping chasm of fear in your chest

A harrowing valley of death, and yet

There is a strong bridge beyond isolation

A generous stream that brings jubilation


There is a deep joy evil cannot erase

Recuperation in a restorative space

There’s a loving resistance against war and disease

All oppression and vengeance will be fully appeased


There’s an open-armed greeting waiting ahead

Laughter and chatter in every language

There’s a bountiful table set for a feast

No sorrow will mar this soul-healing peace



 

Just before these silver-lining words began trickling into my mind, I was trudging through dead leaves on an afternoon walk, ruminating on frustrations and inklings of despair. Molting canopies of orange leaves stretched overhead, but it felt like a dark cloud loomed above me. I wanted to run into someone to talk to, yet at the same time felt confined in an echo chamber of negativity, battered by internal critique and pessimism.


Thankfully I had a pleasant song playing in my ears to counteract the dire noise, a modern-day rendition (by the group Cardiphonia) of an ancient Biblical psalm, those tested and worshipful poems, sometimes cryptic and disturbing but often beautiful, lyrical and timelessly relatable. Eventually the honest and hopeful refrain subdued my melancholy, perhaps even compromised and made peace with it.


Phrases such as "no end to the good" formed in my imagination, which I puzzled over and assembled into these stanzas. First on the walk, then later while sitting in my car, and then the next day while on the couch. Balancing optimism and honest assessment, brief yet multi-layered.


I think reading some essays from Barbara Kingsolver's book Small Wonder influenced this poem, too. Her personal, earnest and wide-ranging response to the complex and heartbreaking aftermath of September 11, 2001 is immediate and illuminating. Even two decades on, her hunt for unexpected stories of mercy in the midst of tragedy and greed and hate has been both a cattle prod and a balm to my conscience, offering unexpected and hard-won hope.


"It used to be, on many days, that I could close my eyes and sense myself to be perfectly happy. I have wondered lately if that feeling will ever come back. It's a worthy thing to wonder, but maybe being perfectly happy is not really the point. Maybe that is only some modern American dream of the point, while the truer measure of humanity is the distance we must travel in our lives, time and again, "twixt two extremes of passion—joy and grief," as Shakespeare put it. However much I've lost, what remains to me is that I can still speak to name the things I love. And I can look for safety in giving myself away to the world's least losable things." - Barbara Kingsolver

May your mind receive words and your senses encounter places which broaden your outlook on life's possibilities, providing pathways for creative, wholehearted thinking.

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