Respecting the awesome power of words!

Wordsmithing

Here's a place where ordinary words attempt to reveal the extraordinary grace of life as we live it. Consume the words; breathe in the blank spaces; travel to the places they take you; enjoy the journey, and the people and places you meet along the way. In these relationships, may the meaning and purpose of your life become more clear.

Latest

The Whole Enchilada


Be careful that 
  your response to a sliver 
of someone else’s story
  does not become 
an anchor from which 
  you launch the diatribe 
of your objection, 
  based on your lifelong 
and cumulative understanding 
  of how the universe 
fits together and functions. 

Sometimes, it’s just a window 
  through which we are invited 
to glimpse a single hour 
  of a single day, 
in a single life, 
  that's not our own. 

However long it’s been 
  since you were given the floor, 
or the pulpit, if ever, 
  try to remember 
that the world is hungry, 
  not so much 
for the whole enchilada, 
  as for a pinch of grace 
and a sip of love. 

One loaf and one cup, 
  shared with those 
who’ve been invited 
  to your table, 
are what we all 
  hunger and thirst for. 

Eat, drink, and remember. 

© 2021 Todd Jenkins

Gathering


Here we are, O God, 
socially distanced 
by a nefarious virus, 
yet communally drawn together 
by a mysterious thirst 
for living water
for our bodies and our souls. 

Here we are, O God, 
lifting up our immuno-compromised 
and health-challenged sisters and brothers, 
praying that we do not,
 by our carelessness 
or our insensitivity, 
contribute a greater threat 
to their well-being.

Here we are, O God, 
gathered in ways 
we pray are faithful, 
seeking guidance, 
both through our medical professionals 
and your spirit and truth.

Here we are, O God, 
lifting up our anxiety and dread 
with open palms, 
asking you to take them from us, 
so that our palpitations are calmed, 
our tachycardia, steadied.

Here we are, O God, 
revealing our deepest grief and loss, 
longing to remain cognizant 
of your strong but tender hand 
undergirding us through it all.

Here we are, O God, 
offering our whole selves –
 bodies, minds, and souls – 
to the gathering ways 
 and relationships of your love.

Here we are, O God, 
fully prepared to part 
with all that separates us 
from you, and therefore 
also separates us 
from our neighbors.

© 2021 Todd Jenkins

Right Now


In the instant 
of this particular 
time and place — 
the circumstances 
of our moment in history, 
coupled with the precision 
of our geographic coordinates — 

we give you thanks, 
O artist 
of eternity’s ethereal span, 
for the breathtaking and breath-giving 
specificity of now. 

May our rapt attention and focus 
deeply root us 
in the rich gift of the present, 
enabling us to 

be nourished by and 
to feed others 
with the long-handled 
spoon of grace. 

© 2021 Todd Jenkins

Stigmata


Mine are, in no way, 
scars of resurrection, 
at least not in the
“three days in the tomb” 
after a state sponsored execution sense; 
but they remind me 
of the myriad ways 
I have been given new life. 

Ankles, feet, knees,
and even neck; 
marks of scalpels aimed 
with precision at broken bones, 
shredded ligaments, 
spur-tweaked tendons, 
compressed vertebrae; 
tattoos of scar tissue, 
raised and discolored. 

There are two more memorable spots
on my upper arm: 
a darkened scar commemorating 
a childhood smallpox vaccine, 
and a new muscle memory 
of the puncture point
where two COVID vaccines 
were recently injected. 

All of these 
are harbingers of hope, 
reminding me that I 
have been pulled away 
from pain, hurt, 
and potential illness 
so many times, 
by the skill set of people 
whose God-given gifts 
and proclivities 
are light years away from mine, 
and also precisely what I need 
for restoration 
into the human community. 

© 2021 Todd Jenkins

Birds of Pray


         Some glide across the heavens, 
         their wings catching updrafts, 
           ever circling, in search 
            of death and danger, 
              refusing to land 
             until life itself 
             has been snuffed, 
             feasting on decay 
             and dismemberment. 

             Others perch high 
              in the branches, 
            scouring the terrain 
             with an icy stare, 
              prepared to swoop 
        at the first sign of movement, 
              scooping up tiny, 
           unsuspecting creatures, 
              consuming them 
           with concrete judgment. 

              Give us courage, 
              O winged divine, 
             to be among those 
         who wake in the darkness 
             and boldly cast 
            our warbled tune 
         toward the rising sun, 
             day after day, 
             conjuring hope 
              for someone 
       whose wings are exhausted, 
            or even broken. 

        Give us ears and hearts 
           to span the gap 
        between our own song 
       and the tearful laments 
   of people whose nests and stories 
     we’ve never seen and heard. 

          Make us, O God, 
     compassionate birds of pray. 

        © 2021 Todd Jenkins

My Neighbor?


Luke 10:25 Just then a lawyer
stood up to test Jesus...
{νομικός - one who is learned in 
and an interpreter of the law.}

   *****

Little did he know 
the implications of his question; 
for he was simply seeking 
lines by which 
his faith could be defined. 

Maybe "neighbor" 
would have to be 
inside the lines, 
but, once drawn, 
there would surely be others 
beyond them. 

It wasn't until later, 
maybe much later, 
that he began to realize 
what power -- 
what grace -- 
had been packed 
into the brief story 
that drew this inquiry 
out of the depths 
of his soul. 

The more he followed, 
breathed, and listened,
the more he realized 
that the question 
is not so much 
about lines or division 
as it is about communion. 

It's like toothpaste, 
once squeezed from the tube, 
never again to go back in, 
forever brushing up against 
everything and everyone. 

If we don't know the marrow 
of our neighbor's story yet, 
it's time to listen 
to their bones, 
so that we can answer 
for ourselves. 

Bones don’t lie. 
Ever. 

Jesus, weary 
of walking beside Samaritans 
over and over and over, 
is inviting us 
to learn and share 
our own answers 
to our question, so that 
the sociopolitical economics 
of our Jericho Road 
can be transformed, 
justifying a new name: 
Justice Highway. 

Luke 10:29
..."And who is my neighbor?"

© 2021 Todd Jenkins

I’m Here


Sometimes you ask, 
not always with your words, 
but with your eyes and eyebrows 
and all the muscles of your face, 
or with the language 
of your posture, 
stilted and inquisitive, 
"Why are you here?" 

There are so many ways 
I could respond, 
but here are answers 
that come from beyond us: 

I'm here because 
I did not want 
either of us 
to fly solo.

I'm here because 
God was concerned 
that both of us might struggle 
to recognize the self 
of divine presence 
in the gaping maw 
of physical aloneness. 

I'm here to lay 
the tenderness 
of my open ears 
before the sharp edges 
of your pain, 
the slick puddles 
of your grief, 
and the quivering mass 
of your fear. 

I'm here to join you 
in embodying the sacred gift 
of neighboring. 

I'm here.

© 2021 Todd Jenkins

Bookmark

 

We call it Holy Week, 
  because we have read ahead, 
  but as it was lived 
  and breathed 
  and cried and bled, 
  surely it must have seemed 
  more like Hell Week. 

     ************

My heart quakes 
  as my thumb stumbles 
  across the tiny keyboard. 

Caught within the paradox 
  of deep sincerity 
  and utter inadequacy,
  I type, “Today, 
  I pray you’ll find 
  an anchor from which 
  hope cannot be dislodged.”

There are times
  when I am certain 
  that words are grossly insufficient, 
  and this is one of those. 

Even images, 
  which are said 
  to paint a thousand words, 
  do not have a depth 
  to reach the place 
  from which I feel 
  your pain has risen. 

Please know 
  that I am holding you 
  in the most tender part 
  of my cracked heart; 
a place where someone
  has left a bookmark, 
  like a rainbow, 
  signifying the divine promise 
  to regularly return 
  and remember. 

© 2021 Todd Jenkins

She Laughs


She laughs at love. 
She laughs at hate. 
She laughs at folks
who think they’re great. 

She laughs at joy. 
She laughs at pain. 
She laughs at sunshine.
She laughs at rain.

She laughs at struggle.
She laughs at ease.
She laughs when she's running, 
and when she's knocked to her knees.

Within her laughter
I find my place. 
Amazing laugh;
amazing grace. 

© 2021 Todd Jenkins

Free-Dumb

 
So many things and ways 
we’re free to be: 
thoughtful, hopeful, 
helpful, observant, 
loving, gracious, 
and the list 
of divinely conferred 
character superlatives 
stretches onward. 

Why, then, 
when surrounded 
by such a smorgasbord 
bursting with life, 
would we choose 
the shrinking slavery 
of free-dumb? 

Not ignorance, 
mind you, but 
headstrong stubbornness 
that refuses to yield 
to a healthy braid 
of information, science, 
connection, and common sense, 
simply because denial 
is more efficient,
requires less effort, 
and maintains the batting 
in our comfy blanket
of personal security and simplicity. 

Lord, poke our consciences 
and our hearts 
with the needle of your truth, 
that we might aspire 
to nourish genuine freedom
for all the world
in more just 
and Christ-like ways. 

© 2021 Todd Jenkins