The Good and the Void

How good is the good we call good?

Whose good is served by the good we call good?

These questions call into question

the glib and easy way we think of The Good and do it.

We cannot rush to answer these questions.

And thinking is futile.

Reason and logic mean nothing here.

We are on new ground–

which is groundless–


We have to sink into the Void to find what we need,

and the Void is the last place we want to go.


there lies the treasure,

buried beyond all hope,

and courage beyond hope

is required to take us there.

Such courage is formed from melding

mindfulness and compassion

together in the heat of knowing what’s what

and what has to be done about it.

With seeing, hearing and understanding,

the options are despair and courage without hope.

But courage without hope

is the only courage there is.

Who needs courage when there is hope?

Hope is its own reason for being,

and courage is unnecessary.

Without hope,

courage is our only hope.

When the alternative is despair,

opt for courage,



even so–

and do whatever it takes

in the service of what must be done.

Those who know,

and have always known,

know that it is





and absurd–

and coming to a very bad end–

and that what we do in the meantime

makes all the difference.


Sit quietly with the options,

the choices,

the possibilities and impossibilities,

and the consequences–

and allow the Void to call you home.

We come from the Void,

and to the Void we return,

and in between,

we have occasion to visit often.

But, there is a catch.

We have to visit in good faith.

We can’t get there in bad faith,

and it would be a mistake to try.

But good faith,

and a sincere desire to do what needs to be done

and do it,

work every time.

What is happening?

What needs to be done about it?

Who stands to win?

Who stands to lose?

Whose good should be served?

Whose good should be sacrificed?

Whose good is always served?

Whose good is always sacrificed?

What is The Good beyond all





We sit with the questions,

with the complexity,

the mess,

the unavailable,

and hold it all in awareness,

bearing the pain of its weight and reality

in the heart of the Void,

and wait there

for what realizations may arise.

This is known as the Travail of Transformation,

or Death Unto Life,

and is the way of serving the good

that is as good as good can be

given the context and circumstances of its advent

in each situation as it arises.

And those who have the heart for it

do it in each situation that arises.


We are so exhausted by the lack of acceptable options—

by the absence of quality choices

from which to choose,

we ignore the Void

and throw the beer can in the recyclable bin,

or the paper towel in the trash

because there is no good to be had

when all the possibilities

are equally bad

for everyone and all things,

so what the hell?

And The Good doesn’t matter to us.

It is too far-fetched and out of reach.

We do what has to be done

without feeling,

or seeing,

or hearing,

or knowing,

or caring,

and numb ourselves

to the reality of our being and doing

because examination

is too painful,

and futile,

to consider.

And that’s where we are,

and where we must begin.

Take that to the Void.

Sit there in the silence

aware of the absurdity

of waiting,

and wait—

without prospects or point,

letting the end of hope

be the beginning of hope

on another level,

in a different way,

past madness

and despair,

a gift of vision

and life

from the Void.

And rise as the Phoenix from its ashes

to do what needs us to do it

in the service of a Good beyond believing,

because we must.

Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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