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

Deeply


One day, the cremains of a man 
   and his dog invited me 
    to take a sabbath,
     to go to the woods 
   and let “goodness and mercy” 
  hound me all the days of my life 
(Psalm 23:6). 

While I walked the trail,
   I did not so much breathe, 
    as I was being breathed. 
     I did not so much know 
    as I was being known. 
   I did not so much love 
as I was being loved; 

and in the wilds, 
   where all pretending 
    and all pretense 
     are sweated away, 
    I resolved 
   to breathe more deeply, 
  know more deeply, 
and love more deeply. 

© 2022 Todd Jenkins

Thread Poems

 

        Each person, 
         each conversation, 
         each situation 
         is a sentence 
         in the novel 
         of my life. 

        When my soul is calm 
         and my brain relaxed, 
        I catch fragments 
             of the prose 
       and write them down, 
    leaving space around them 
     so that, when you read it, 
    you can fill in the blanks 
      with your own words, 
        heart, and life. 

        When it works — 
         when we see 
        the common thread 
     and feel ourselves 
          being woven 
       into the tapestry — 
      what we imagined 
         to be common 
      becomes extraordinary. 

© 2022 Todd Jenkins

Cathedral in Time

Photo by George Repa

(from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s 
1951 classic interpretation of Jewish spirituality, 
titled The Sabbath)

So many glorious edifices 
are called to my mind’s eye 
when the word “cathedral” 
is written or, better yet, 
spoken out loud. 

Stone upon stone, 
rainbows of glass within glass, 
sunlight refracted 
at just the perfect angle and moment, 
voice and song echoed 
in ethereal beauty. 

But time? 
What in the world 
kind of cathedral
could that be?

We, who are finite beings, 
forever tied to a history 
before our first breath 
and a future 
beyond our final heartbeat, 
struggle to both 
imagine and comprehend 
an edifice for worship that wafts 
within the ordinary ticktocking
of our weekly lives.

Yet, this is the very place 
toward which the holy one 
beckons us to show up;

a regular respite from, 
not only Pharaoh’s brickyards, 
but also our culture’s obsession 
with comparison, competition, and consumption. 

“Come away with me…” 
the holy one beckons.
“Let me introduce you 
to the gifts of rest and redemption, 
where your very heartbeat 
and respiration are defined, 
not as a path to productivity, 
but as a resting reflection 
of the love 
that has been planted 
in the depths of your marrow.”

Let us dare to set aside time 
to breathe deeply,
allowing the gift of Sabbath 
to resurrect hope 
into this very time and place. 

© 2022 Todd Jenkins

Love in the Lewy

In memory of Sharon Griscom, 
and in honor of Sara Griscom.

There’s love in the “Yes.” 
and love in the “No.”
Love’s in the yell,
even in the throw. 

There’s love in refusal,
love in the demand,
love in the snatching 
and victoriously raised hand. 

There’s love in the breath,
love in taking dictation,
love in the tears,
yes, even in the frustration. 

There’s love in the lotion,
love in painted nails of toes and fingers,
love in the music played and sung.
Love is the scent that eternally lingers.

There’s love in surrender,
and surely in the trying;
love in the last heartbeat,
and love is forever in the dying. 

© 2022 Todd Jenkins

Speak Not


Jesus asked, 
“And who do you say 
that I am?”

I answered, 
“You are the 50 cent word 
floating around 
in my half-penny mind; 
a truth so large that 
it makes my heart tremble.” 

And Jesus said, 
“Speak not 
from your brain alone, child.

Instead, find the words lingering 
in the hallway between 
your mind and heart, 
and open the window 
of your mouth, 
so those words 
can take flight,
and we, with them.” 

© 2022 Todd Jenkins

Wings


We’ll find him at the margins. 
That’s where he always is, 
where he’s always been, 
where he’ll always be. 

We look for him at the circus, 
under the big tent, 
where the crowd laughs 
and roars their approval; 
but what’s there is a cheap imitation, 
a self-manufactured copy 
of comfort and security 
baptizing our own fears and foibles, 
blessing the bent of our economics, 
tossing saltines and grape juice 
at our bloated consumption. 

He hasn’t been in the building 
since we cut the cord 
with the neighborhood 
and beefed up security 
to keep out all the people 
whose dress, demeanor, language, 
and real estate holdings 
are below our standards of decency. 

What’s say we go look for him 
and join him at the broken tables 
where he daily sits?

Let’s listen to the laughter 
and the interchange, and see
if it reminds us of the longing 
that resonates from our core, 
a desire for community 
that cannot be satisfied 
by our current trajectory. 

I’ll unlock the door, 
and we can walk, together, 
toward the edge — 
the place we’ve been told 
hovers near an abyss — 
a place where Hope 
has invited us 
to receive our wings. 

© 2022 Todd Jenkins

Transplant

Photo by Jim Bricel

There’s more than one way 
to participate 
in an organ transplant. 

When the physical heart, lung, 
kidney, or other parts 
of a formerly-alive person 
are willingly and successfully shared 
with another person 
who is in critical need, 
that’s one way. 

Those who designate 
their post-mortem bodies 
as available resources 
for such needs 
are able to participate 
in the gift of life. 

Another path 
toward reincarnation is blazed 
when someone to whom 
we are deeply and sacredly tethered 
crosses the realm 
between the edge of earth and sky, 
but the thread 
of their connection
 refuses to let go,

pulling us into 
the space where the limits 
of the person 
we imagined we could become 
is expanded into the dream 
that creation has held for us 
since the voice of hope and possibility 
declared the first “Let there be…”. 

Thanks be to God 
for all the ways 
that life is conjured 
from death. 

© 2022 Todd Jenkins

Though

Though her eyes still sparkle, 
the intensity of the glow 
is markedly reduced. 

The lilt in her voice, 
though still present, 
has significantly diminished. 

We talk, in conversation 
more generic than before, 
as her memory 
and recognition of me 
has been erased, 
though I still know 
that she is there. 

Now, though, 
the need to pharmaceutically calm 
the trauma of memory’s loss,
so that caregivers 
can keep her safe and secure,
has taken her back 
to a more docile stage 
of childhood. 

I did not know her 
way back then.
I wasn’t even alive; 

but the holy 
that hovers between us 
still reveals to me 
her sacred spirit; 
and in the presence 
of this gift, 
I bow, smile, and sing. 

© 2022 Todd Jenkins

Companion


There wasn’t a class in school, 
Sunday School, or any other 
of life’s educational components 
for how to make decisions 
for the mental and physical well-being 
of a loved one.  

It probably feels like you’re flying 
by the seat of your pants and, 
in a sense, you are. 

Rest assured, however, 
that we are regularly sending reports 
to the cosmic air traffic controller, 
requesting that the seraphim 
BOLO (be on the lookout) 
for all who are winging their way 
toward worlds unknown, 
so that you never lose sight or feel 
of the undergirding of the Paraclete 
— the divine Advocate — 
(John 14:6 And I will ask the Father, 
and he will give you another Advocate, 
to be with you forever.) 
who has covenanted 
to walk beside us 
through hell, high water, 
and all other manner 
of angst and chaos. 

Watch for the shadows 
as you make your daily journey. 
That’s where you’ll catch glimpses 
of your companion. 

© 2022 Todd Jenkins

In the Night


When night shows up unannounced, 
smothering everything around you
with its icy darkness,
blanketing your very life,
threatening to asphyxiate you,

may a candle of memory flicker
enough to push the vapid emptiness 
back across the horizon;

may your breath be enriched 
by the stories and faces you recall
from the days before 
such a beautiful life 
was prematurely purloined;

may the arms and shoulders,
the tears and laughter 
of dear friends and loved ones
inflate your life raft again;

may you float 
beneath a moonlit, star-kissed sky,
until morning’s light breaks across
the eastern edge of your soul. 

© 2022 Todd Jenkins