Category Archives: Found Poetry

Against Hope: a found poem

Found poetry is created by taking words or phrases from an existing source and re-framing them in a new way, using them to say something of your own. It is a kind of literary collage. The poem below was crafted from a sermon I heard that was actually very hope-filled, but at the time I heard it, it simply gave me words for the hopelessness I was living in.

Against Hope

Tired of desiring?
Do this every day:

First, just give in
to little, lesser hopes.
Look for a crack. Resign.

Then,
feel like you are enlightened.
You are awakened (So foolish to hope).

Convert other people. Create a fellowship. Your own little church.
Don’t build (To build you have to risk, dream)

Then,
don’t become an atheist. Just keep God
at a distance.
Create your own wonderful plan. Make life work on your own.

Do this
before they throw dirt on you.
It’s safe;
You’ll already be dead.

Found in a sermon given by Ron Johnson
Arranged 3 January 2010

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Via Esperanza
As we sigh toward God
don’t lose appetite for hope.
With our small desires
He spins in-breaking beauty.
He will do what He intends.

Light Gathered

It is called Sunset
only when the last sliver dips below the horizon

Then, twilight—
The long drain off of light.

Dusk
comes only at His behest,
the very last touch.

A long night will pass
like seeds waiting to shoot up from the ground.

Dawn, too,
begins only at His call–
when the earliest light touches the sky.

Again, then twilight,
as color gathers before the sun.

It is called Sunrise
only when you see the first sliver, awash.

Like light gathered together on the Peak,
full glory takes a long time.

Embrace

Salvation is not escape
The prison door swings open
but we walk into
life in excess of what we can manage or control,
accepting the consequences.

Enter the mess of chaos,
no forcing,
no bullying.
Pay attention
Name the gathering,
the shards and splinters of broken lives:
A face, a rustle in the trees
A dragonfly, an old man’s gesture
A forced march across a desert

There it is–

Work quietly and gently,
No yelling,
No invective.
Accept.
Submit to the conditions.
There it is: beautiful

Take it to the altar of sacrifice
Make an offering of it.

Beauty does not impose.
It is a meaningless word
to those in control—
doesn’t explain anything
reveals what has been there all along

But there is always more
A storm crashing through mountains
An accident
Wounding and bruising of all sorts
A new creation in Jerusalem, in Babylon

Live in a mystery
not in confusion.
Embrace,
a deep, reconciling embrace
of all that is wrong.

Found in Eugene Peterson’s The Jesus Way,
“Isaiah of the Exile: ‘How Beautiful on the Mountains’”
Arranged 13 December 2009

Against Hope

Tired of desiring?
Do this every day:

First, just give in
to little, lesser hopes.
Look for a crack. Resign.

Then,
feel like you are enlightened.
You are awakened (So foolish to hope).

Convert other people. Create a fellowship. Your own little church.
Don’t build (To build you have to risk, dream)

Then,
don’t become an atheist. Just keep God
at a distance.
Create your own wonderful plan. Make life work on your own.

Do this
before they throw dirt on you.
It’s safe;
You’ll already be dead.

Found in a sermon given by Ron Johnson
Arranged 3 January 2010

Never be Ashamed of Staring

There is nothing that doesn’t require your attention.
Anything that helps you to see, anything that makes you look
is at all times an invisible burden you carry toward the limits of mystery.

There is something in us that demands the redemptive act,
but we have forgotten the price of restoration.
Our sense of evil is diluted or lacking altogether.
Redemption is meaningless unless there is cause for it in the actual life we live.

This is the beginning of vision: we are made out of dust.
Plunge into reality through the darkness of the familiar—
though it’s very shocking to the system,
though it requires considerable courage at any time, in any country, not to turn away.
(If you scorn getting yourself dusty, then you shouldn’t, but the way to despair is to refuse to have any kind of experience)

The longer you look, the more of the world you see.
It is almost of necessity going to be violent and comic.
It’s a terrible experience; the hair falls out and the teeth decay.
The prophet in you has to see the freak.

This is not an easy or simple thing to do.
More always happens than we are able to take in.
Pass by the dragon in a more drastic way—
Know mighty well that something is happening.
It is a job of heavy labor, of not getting the point at once.
You must be sustained by a hope of salvation, or you simply won’t survive the ordeal.

People without hope don’t take long looks at anything.
They lack the courage.
Never be ashamed of staring.
Outer and inner worlds can be seen through each other.
The blind man cured in the gospels saw men as if they were trees, but walking.

To know oneself is to know the world.
It is also a form of exile from that world.
The surface
intrudes upon the timeless
as one goes through it into mystery.

Found in Mystery and Manners
By Flannery O’Connor
Arranged 22 Nov 2009

Whole Territory

An island in the sea,
squatting lazily before God—
We wish He would leave us alone.
We wish He would make us do the thing.

Wrestling before God,
the Great Divide in life.
Will I dump myself down
Absolutely?

An island in the sea
may be the top of a great mountain,
but God never coerces.
He unravels the struggling truth.
He will tax the remotest star to claim the last grain of sand.

Slowly but surely
He is getting me to the place where He can use me.
More and more
I walk in the light of the vision that is given.

The top of a great mountain—
slowly but surely,
I become whole territory,
ablaze for the glory of God.

Found in December entries of My Utmost for His Highest
by Oswald Chambers
Arranged 27 December 2009