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.
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To the Quick

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Stitching grief closed,
before the wounds
have time and space
to heal, locks out
deeper levels of trust,
damning us to return,
over and over,
to a wounded emptiness.

Give us tenacity, O God,
to risk leaving our gashes
open long enough
for you to scar us with hope,
mark us with anticipation
of love reaching
from alpha to omega
and everyplace in between.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Out of the Depths

img_8045                       Photo and cultivation by Jennie Roberts Jenkins
She spent weeks
in the basement;
that place of chilly darkness,
where the unsightly pipes,
wires, and vents cleave
to the floor joists
like a sacred labyrinth,
serving as conduits
for civilization's amenities,
if not life itself;

that lonely place
to which nightmares,
misbehaving children,
and pathological adults
are banished in tales of terror. 

There, in the hidden cavern
of the psalmist, (139:15a)
"... intricately woven 
in the depths of the earth." 
without benefit of photosynthesis,
she has turned
moisture and humus
into indescribable beauty.

No wonder her name
is "Christmas Cactus",
for she conjures
life from shadows,
and materializes
hope from fear.

"For unto us 
a child is born..."

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

 

Pieces

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The following grew out of an interview I did for “Water of Life”, the newsletter for Living Waters for the World.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” (Mark Twain)

Twain wrote that travel is a great eraser of prejudice and self-elevation. I guess that depends on how you travel. It can be difficult to find a transformative climate when you’re carefully shuttled from one manicured, touristy vista to another, and shuffled quickly past brightly painted walls masking the underbelly – and yet the foundation – of the neighborhoods and working conditions of an area’s indigenous people. One key to avoiding such a wasted trip is mission.

I’m not talking about delivering crates of used clothing and shoes, or offloading expensive equipment, or drive-by VBS with enough glitz to elicit oohs and ahhs even from malnourished participants. I’m talking about mission done WITH (not TO or FOR), in partnership, with all participants’ resources and voices recognized and respected, and full ownership claimed.

If you can find a way to do this, whether it’s in your back yard or across the globe, whether it transcends languages, cultures, social structures, or all of the above, you will no longer be able to see the world through the fearful binoculars of “other”, and you will no longer understand yourself the same. When you sense the life of others, your heart rends, even if only microscopically.

It’s like you’ve traded pieces of one another’s hearts; and when you do that, love cannot be unseen, mercy unheard, justice unfelt, forgiveness unsmelled, grace untasted. Neither your world nor the world will ever be the same again. Thanks be to God!

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

On the Road Again

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I'm not sure it's possible
to reach our deepest desires
without passing through
some very powerful fears.

On the road toward love –
knowing and being known –
we must cross through
the intersection of the despised.

Not all knowing ends
in love and acceptance;
some relationships are t-boned
at the intersection
of spite and rejection.

After such a painful collision,
it takes courage to get behind
the wheel and back on the road.

All the while,
love keeps whispering,
"Follow me. This is not
the end of your journey."

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Twins

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We are all, metaphorically,
separated identical twins,
spending our whole lives looking
for a mirrored connection and
a rhythm that defines who we are.

We seldom recognize it
in those who are other,
mostly because we can't even
recognize ourselves in the mirror,

so deluded and confused are we
by all of the identities
that culture has laid upon us,

and those which burst
from our hearts in spite
of our attempt
at cover-up and denial.

It is the divine,
the incarnate one,
who mirrors that twinning
most perfectly, and we
are given glimpses of that daily,
in the face of our neighbors;

especially in the faces
of those to whom
we'd like to not be kin.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Anger

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It’s a double helical deceiver,
at once hiding, minor-grooved,
beneath the surface,
waiting to attack any threat;

at the same time, shading duplicity
in a major-grooved attempt
to distract all involved, including self,
with irrelevant rage rockets,
pyrotechnics of shock and awe.

Unquestioned, facade of indignation
maintains self and others securely
beyond the realm of examination;
stealthily slinking beneath the surface
in preparation for next attack.

Pray for the day when,
by surprise or exhausted surrender,
fear-generated angst is laid bare
before Love’s salvific security.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Crashed Server

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In the days to come,
all of the certitude and judgment
stacked helter-skelter against
those whose experience
and perception differ from our own

will come crashing down,
not on those who've been
relegated beyond the wall,

but imploding upon
the stone stackers themselves.
Why, you ask?

Because the only mortar used
in this fearful construction
comes from the fetid cesspool
of our own confirmation bias. 

All who emerge from the rubble,
and are courageous enough
to remain present,
will be invited to sit
'round the campfire, listening
to stories never heard.

Thus, the birth pangs of peace
will once again twinge.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Observance

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To genuinely observe Advent,
without being pulled
into the cultural tsunami
of commercial Christmas,
is to participate
in the eternal plan of Grace.

It is to rest in the promise
of divine deliverance
with at least a modicum
of hope that the gift will arrive,
not only with more
than sufficient efficacy,
but also before the nick of time.

It is to admit
that we are fully incapable
of generating the gift
of incarnation on our own,
and therefore entirely dependent
on both God's mercy and timing.

It is, at one and the same time,
both an exhilarating journey
and a risky adventure.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Broken

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When our mechanical devices
  are broken, they are
    of little use until
      they are repaired;

      and our society tends
    to scrap them
  rather than repair them,
tossing them to the junk heap.

Human brokenness works
  in a slightly different way.

  We are all broken
in one way or another.

Unlike machines,
  we are fully capable
    of functioning in a state
      of brokenness, so long
        as we don't lose sight of it.

      Denying our own brokenness
    usually leads to hyper-attention
  toward and condemnation
of others' brokenness.

There is no path to healing
  in this outward focus.

    It leads to a vortex
  of fear, anger, and accusation,
void of accountability.

Recognizing our own
  particular brokenness,
    and living out of its humility
      is part of the path
        to healing and wholeness.

          Stained glass is the ultimate
        human/divine metaphor:
      fragile, broken,
    sometimes-jagged pieces
  held firmly together
in beautiful new patterns.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

 

Enough

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                                                    Photo by Owen Jenkins

It is not enough to confess
that we don’t know
what the future holds.

It is not even enough
to proclaim that we know
who holds the future or
that we are convinced
that the holder of the future
also holds us.

The only thing that is enough
is to hold those who’ve seldom,
if ever, known that the holder
of the future also holds them;

and to hold them with all
of the tenderness and respect
that the future’s hope
musters within us.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins