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

Listening Magic

Photo by Jennie Roberts Jenkins
Here's the magic:  
  We'll listen to your story,  
  but what we all need is 
  for you to covenant  
  to remain at the table 
  after your story  
  has been told,  
 
mouth closed, eyes,  
ears, heart open,  
  to hear the stories of those  
  whose mouths have mostly been  
 forbidden to speak.  
 
The truth of our stories  
  is bolstered from understanding  
 the truths of others' stories. 
 
Together we rise. 
 
© 2021 Todd Jenkins 
 

Chosen

 
(resurrecting a post from April, 2015) 
 
Forgive us, O Lord, 
for we have chosen sides, 
instead of choosing each other; 
 
we have chosen political parties 
rather than choosing 
to build a healthy nation; 
 
we've chosen to keep score 
and chosen to lose stories; 
we've chosen to divide ourselves 
instead of choosing to be united; 
 
we've chosen to be right 
rather than choosing 
to be in right relationship; 
 
we have chosen to control 
instead of choosing to love; 
 
we've chosen to live 
artificial lies rather than 
choosing to be inspired by 
your organic truth. 
 
we've chosen to live 
as if we are the choosers 
and not the ones 
that you have chosen. 
 
Forgive us, O God, 
and do not unchoose us. 
 
© 2015 Todd Jenkins

Face the Music

Photo by Jennie Roberts Jenkins
When we have to face  
our biggest fear,  
we just might realize it’s truth  
that contradicts our worldview;  
 
AKA cognitive dissonance:  
a simultaneous combination  
of tones in a state  
of unrest  
and needing completion.  
 
Someone,  
or some idea  
will have to go,  
before peace will come.  
 
If we exile truth,  
and attempt to construct  
an alternate reality,  
especially one  
that reinforces  
our comfort level, 
there can be no resolution,  
only more division.  
 
What music  
do you hear?  
 
© 2020 Todd Jenkins

Through the Window

Photo by Jennie Roberts Jenkins
 
  
Hope is not designed  
 to be received  
  by the passive or timid,  
   who sit on the sidelines  
    and wait  
   for a fully constructed promise  
  to knock the front door down.  
 
It is more of an incessant tickle  
 in the throat and heart  
  of those who long for deliverance,  
   which gives them the gumption  
  to step up and step out,  
   giving bold voice and action  
  to that which calls to us  
   from the future;  
 
that which has painted us  
 into a picture  
  of unimaginable love,  
   and holds open the curtain  
  for us to climb in  
  through the window.  
 
What are we waiting for?  
 
© 2020 Todd Jenkins

A Year





 
It’s been a year  
like no other; 
a year no one wants  
to see again; 
 
a year when too much light  
was shed on darkness  
some didn’t want  
to know about; 
 
a year when lights  
thought to be eternal  
were extinguished; 
 
a year when we learned  
that if “together”  
means little more  
than regularly gathering  
in the same room,  
our faith has toothpicks  
for a foundation; 
 
a year when the gaping maw  
between need and greed  
swallowed more people 
than most could imagine; 
 
a year in which  
we struggled to create  
new definitions  
for “gather” and  
“worship” and “church”  
that enflesh the gospel  
in tangible and  
transforming ways; 
 
a year that tore us apart; 
 
a year that asked us  
if we were willing  
to be pieced back together  
into vessels of resurrection.  
 
It’s been a year; 
now it’s time  
to live as if  
we’ve learned  
from it.  
 
© 2020 Todd Jenkins 

The Way

“Suffering and joy  
usually share  
the same taxi.”  
she said,  
matter of factly,  
as if I understood.  
 
“Are they even going  
in the same direction,  
much less 
to the same destination,  
and if so, what is it?”  
 
“Who would ever dare  
to be the driver  
of such a checkered cab?”  
 
After a long,  
long silence,  
in which I struggled  
for breath,  
she spoke three  
one-word answers,  
“Yes. Love. God.”  
 
 
Is this what we call  
the trinity? 
 
© 2020 Todd Jenkins

In the Night with the Sheep

  
 They may just seem like nouns; 
 ordinary words used to identify 
 people, places, things: 
 Bethlehem, shepherds, sheep; 
  
 but in the grand scheme 
 of the eternal storyteller, 
 they can never really be 
 just anything. 
  
 Bethlehem is the Hebrew way 
 of saying, “House of Bread”. 
  
 It’s the ancestral home 
 of a shepherd boy 
 who became the shepherd 
 of God’s people; 
 the one who was promised 
 that his house would forever be 
 the one from whom 
 God’s shepherd would hail. 
  
 Who would have guessed that, 
 as they watched their flocks by night, 
 they, among all people, 
 would be invited 
 to lay eyes and hearts 
 on the arrived, 
 flesh and blood promise 
 of the prophets?
  
 Listen with me, as we imagine 
 what might have been wandering 
 through their minds and hearts that night:
  
 O Lord, it’s cold out here 
 in the wilderness, 
 surrounded by fields, 
 as sheep wander 
 like aimless, misplaced children, 
 and who-knows what 
 wild predators lurk
 along the periphery!
  
 We hope 
 that our shepherd’s staff 
 and our primitive sling-shot, 
 like the ones used 
 by the shepherd boy, David,
 will protect us 
 from the Goliath
 of pandemic,
 and all the ways 
 our distancing and masking 
 have separated us 
 from the hugs and smiles 
 by which we have 
 so long defined 
 our connection to community; 
 and the sharp pain inflicted 
 by our truncated sorrow, 
 as we are not able 
 to gather for the rituals 
 of grief and goodbye. 
  
 We are sore in need 
 of a powerful but peaceful serenade 
 by an angelic choir, 
 proclaiming the arrival 
 of God-with-skin-on. 
  
 Give us ears and hearts, 
 O God, attuned 
 to this song, so that, 
 once the carols become 
 little more 
 than an echo in our ears, 
 we can find the courage 
 to double-time it into town 
 to find the place 
 where need and love have converged, 
 beneath the light 
 of a star that beckons 
 all whose souls 
 are searching for hope. 
  
 Give us courageous words, 
 O Lord, that we 
 may speak the unvarnished truth 
 of the unimaginable love 
 that has been proclaimed to us.
  
 © 2020 Todd Jenkins 

Errata

 
 
Over the centuries,  
we created an institution  
  whose members gathered weekly  
  for study and worship  
  by the dozens,  
face to face,  
side by side,  
sharing the peace of Christ  
  with handshakes, hugs,  
and other intimate greetings,  
depending on familiarity  
  and comfort levels,  
singing and speaking liturgies  
  responsively or in unison,  
elbow to elbow,  
breath to breath;  
 
and 2020 came along  
  and derailed the whole train,  
distancing us  
  all the way back  
  to our little home cubicles  
  and square boxes on the screen,  
with little more  
  than electronic tethers  
  to keep us connected.  
 
Most of us  
  were then introduced  
  to new “interactive” platforms  
  like Facebook Live,  
YouTube, and Zoom,  
creating virtual meetings  
  on the fly, learning how  
  to reinvent ritual  
  for scattered gatherers,  
make music across distal  
  and erratic digital rhythms,  
help people find,  
not only the camera button,  
  but also the unmute one.  
 
Here’s the part  
  we haven’t talked about,  
and maybe not even seen:  
the clock is  
  no longer reliable.  
 
Where the learning curve  
  has been steep,  
time warps  
  like a particle accelerator,  
leaving us breathless;  
but when we’re fixated  
  on the rear view mirror,  
hoping for a phone call  
  or daydreaming about  
  a dearly departed  
  friend named Normal,  
the clock is frozen,  
if not spinning backward.  
 
Whatever else 2021 brings,  
O God, including  
  a vaccine and arms  
willing to be injected,  
please help us find  
  sufficient empathy 
  for our neighbors  
  near and far,  
so that we learn  
  to feel the pulse  
  of their timepieces,  
and give ourselves  
  to stand in the breech,  
with steady hearts 
  and open ears.  
 
© 2020 Todd Jenkins

Perhaps

  
Century upon century,  
following their own orbits,  
spitting the sparky reflection  
of their surfaces  
into the heavens  
for all who look skyward to see,  
this is the year  
they pass close enough  
to share each other’s glow.  
 
This year, of all years,  
may be one  
that needed it most!  
 
Or at least we,  
who have been inundated  
with the upheaval  
of pandemic,  
and racial/political divides  
sorely need it.  
 
For the planets,  
their alignment,  
and glowing arrival  
at just such a time  
as this,  
we give you thanks,  
O God.  
 
“Perhaps you have come  
into the kingdom  
for just such a time  
as this.” 
Esther 4:14 
 
© 2020 Todd Jenkins

Shoots and Stumps

 
Isaiah 11:1  
A shoot shall come  
out from the stump of Jesse, 
    and a branch shall grow  
out of his roots. 
 
The day will come,  
says a would-be prophet  
whose heart dreams  
while it is awake,  
 
when this generation  
of children whose education  
appears to have been derailed  
by a global pandemic  
shows us how much  
they have learned  
that wasn’t  
in the syllabus,  
and didn’t come  
from the lesson plan,  
and wouldn’t fit  
into a standardized test.  
 
When we oooh and aaah  
at their resiliency  
and marvel at their ingenuity,  
let us also be aware  
that such adaptivity  
is rooted in a three-strand cord  
of accountability, flexibility, and love,  
woven by teachers  
who hold tenderly yet fiercely  
with their hearts.  
 
And where would we be  
without parents, grandparents,  
aunts, uncles, older siblings,  
neighbors, and friends  
who had enough privilege  
to rearrange their lives,  
adding much needed rebar  
to this never-before  
and hastily constructed dwelling?  
 
Let us also be keenly aware  
that those students  
who fall through the cracks  
because they lack  
food, emotional support,  
and resources for access  
are simply magnified examples  
of collateral damage  
in a system designed  
with such large gaps.  
 
Mark 13:37  
And what I say to you  
I say to all:  
Keep awake. 
 
© 2020 Todd Jenkins