Monday, April 16, 2018

found poetry

The Word for today:
Mark 8:1-26
When we went to Florida for Easter, we were reminded of how little shade a palm tree provides. We were also reminded of what it’s like to drive all over Florida without air conditioning.
We don’t use our air conditioning much during the perfectly temperate Western New York summers, so it wasn’t worth fixing when it broke down. Thus, when we got to Florida we tried to make sure we parked beneath the better shade trees. But everybody else in Florida had the same intentions, so we were often relegated to the meager shade of a palm tree.
We could usually position most of the car in shade, but while the car and the tree didn’t move, the sun never stands still. So when we returned from a beach or a store or wherever we went for a while, the car was no longer in shade.
Which caused Shelley, at one point, to remark, “The shade always moves.”
“That’s found poetry at its finest!” I exclaimed.
“Found poetry?“
“Yes, ‘found poetry.’ It’s poetry that’s apparently (at first glance) not there at all. It just shows up accidentally. It can be found all over the place—on billboards, embedded in casual speech, on the backs of cereal boxes and shoe boxes. It can show up anywhere, if you’re listening and looking for it.”
“Dad," Eddy then asked, "what’s poetic about ‘The shade always moves?’ ”
“Eddy, what is shade?”
“It’s shelter from the hot sun.”
“That’s right. So give me a wider meaning than what Mommy meant in the first place.”
“Just when you think you’re protected from the elements, you find out you’re not.”
“Perfect!  You found metaphorical meaning where it wasn’t meant to be found. You found poetry!”
“I get it! Let’s find some more!”
I happened, at that time, to be a few steps ahead in the Stand in the Rain reading schedule. So I took my Bible off the dashboard, which was bookmarked at Mark 8:1-26 (today’s reading). Handing it to Eddy, I told him, “You find some more.”
“In the Bible?”
“There’s more found poetry in the Bible than anywhere else. Just look for phrases that convey a wider meaning than the original speaker probably meant.”
I waited as Eddy slowly, audibly read through the passage. “There’s none there, Dad.”
“Yes there is. Try again. Don’t look at single words, but see words in chunks, in phrases.”
This time he read it silently. I watched his eyes as they lingered on sections of text at a time. He was getting it.
“‘Bread in the wilderness (1).’ Is that found poetry?”
“Maybe. What does bread in the wilderness mean, beyond what the speaker first intended?”
“Well, it’s like what God gave Israel in the wilderness every day.”
“Manna,” Frankie interjected.
“Keep going, Eddy. You’re almost there.”
“Well, Jesus was about to miraculously give the people bread in the wilderness -- just like God gave to the people of Israel.”
“Keep going.”
“And he’s the Bread of life,” added Frankie.
“That’s right! So the disciples spoke a phrase -- bread in the wilderness -- without knowing that they were alluding to the Old Testament, to the miraculous manna, and most importantly to Jesus Himself! They were poets who didn’t know it!”
“Is there any more found poetry in this chapter?”
“You tell me.”
Now Frankie was avidly searching the page alongside him. “‘I see men like trees, walking (2).’ Is that found poetry?” 
“Maybe. Tell me what wider meaning it conveys.”
“It’s like at the end of the love chapter in Corinthians where we see indistinctly-- through a glass darkly -- but when we come face to face with Jesus someday, like this blind man did in the story, then we will see Jesus as clearly as he sees us.”
I was in awe. A metaphor for misperception (which up til then I’d misperceived) had given me new perception -- about how a clearer and clearer perception of God gives us a clearer and clearer perception of everything, including ourselves. Whew! They’d found a metaphoric hall of mirrors.
That man in the story is not the only one who sees men like trees, walking. Nor is he the only one who will see clearly, someday:
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
(1) Mark 8:4; (2) Mark 8:24

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