For Those Who Would Save the World

A poem for Tim and other activist Goshen College students.

Give up perfection for just one day.
Feel yourself a creature of flesh and bone,
walk around in the cold, wind chafing
your face, joints jarring as your worn
soles pound concrete.

Keep walking till you face
your deepest failure—not
with clenched fists, not blinded
by shame, but with a detached
curiosity that opens to
compassion. Finger

the glazed wound tenderly
as you would caress the gash
in Christ’s side. You see
one doesn’t have to travel far

to know suffering, though you
may carry it to the ends of the desert
before you discover it’s yours.

Before you discover the light
failure lets into the darkness
look through the window
into that other human soul

wear it lightly
as God’s fingerprints.
All else is mirrors.
Christ was wounded
so he could be like you.

Reprinted with permission of the author.

About the Author

Ann Hostetler

Ann Hostetler is the editor of A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry (Univ. of Iowa Press 2003) and author of two collections of poems, Empty Room with Light (Dreamseeker 2002) and Safehold (Dreamseeker 2017). Her poems and essays have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies including The American Scholar, Poet Lore, The Valparaiso Poetry Review,Rhubarb Magazine, Testimonies and Tongue Screws: Poems, Stories, and Essays Inspired by the Martyr's Mirror, Making Poems: Forty Poems with Commentary by the Poets (2010), The Mennonite Quarterly Review and PMLA . Professor Emerita of English at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana, Hostetler is the web site editor of the Center for Mennonite Writing and co-editor of its Journal. She directed the 2022 Mennonite/s Writing conference at Goshen College.