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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Revolutionary

zrevolutionary

 

Poetry, like parable,
  is a powerful strain
   of subversive resistance.

        In parable, most often,
      by the powers
    of familiarity and comfort,
  we are lulled into sidling up
to prophetic truth
  with no more hesitation
    or anxiety than a carefree child
      lounging in the autumn grass
        with a magnifying glass
      or a beloved, snoozing family pet.

    Poetry seduces us,
  by a trinity of brevity,
wherein we find
  both breathing room
    and a niche for inserting
      our own narrative;

        simplicity, refreshing us like
      a summer rain shower;

    and a turn of phrase,
  opening neural pathways
of imagination we’ve either
  long-forgotten or never knew existed.

    Our first few encounters
      with these radical forms
        of blood-fueled ink
      can be chalked up
    to inexperience or naïveté.

  Eventually, however,
we will probably have to admit
  that something deep within
    hungers for such
      a revolutionary soirée.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 

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Achilles

zachilles

So protected was he,
that we all imagined
he was invincible,
until we read the rest
of the story, or lived enough
of life to know,
first-hand — or first-heel,
as the case may be —
that creation is constructed
not on invincibility,
but vulnerability.

Many a woe and worry
has been stacked
by freshly-unearthed susceptibility,
raising both respiration and pulse,
if not blood pressure.

Somewhere through
the repetitive unfolding
of month after month
and year after year,
we begin to at least suspect,
if not be nearly convinced,
that love and breath
and even life itself
are born through
and carried on the tears
of absence, loss, and pain;

not in masochistic
or fatalistic fashion,
but in recognition
that hope rises
both out of and above
stretching, bleeding, scarring,
and even death itself,

fashioning us into a people
yearning to risk the tenderness
of grace on other fragile creatures
if for no other reason
than a wispy memory
of being reborn, ourselves,
from those who dared gamble
such resurrecting acts  
on our hour of profound brokenness.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Tumbling

tumbling

Grace is even, and
often especially,
in the shards of mirror
embedded in my knees,
not by way
of my humble genuflection,

but from the face-first tumbles
I make while racing
toward the illusion
of my self-orchestrated
efforts at salvation.

Grace is what calls me
away from an obsession/focus
on individual and future escape,
toward others, and
into an overflowing life
of resurrection
in the here and now.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 

Sutherland Springs

sutherlandPhoto by Owen Jenkins

 

“Thoughts and prayers” screech
in my ears like fingernails
across a chalkboard,
regurgitate into my throat
like the most heinous of tastes
come back to haunt me,
a platitudinous chaff
of phraseology.

   In the motionless void
   that follows, my eardrums
   are pierced by the echo
   of gunfire;

      another mass shooting,
      further propelling
      the land of the free
      to an insurmountable lead
      in the gold medal chase
      for death by firearms.

   We cry “terror!”
   when we see difference,
   and “mental illness!”
   or “lone wolf”
   when familiarity surfaces,
   all the while
   doubling down on weaponization,
   as if terminal violence
   were the antidote to rage.

Is there a tipping point
where the right to die
of some other cause
rises to the level
of the right to bear arms?

   Or should we bury hope
   next to the latest
   bullet-riddled victims,
   shrugging our shoulders
   in surrender
   as the second amendment
   rises to the throne
   of supreme deity?

Lord, have mercy,
because we have
completely lost the capacity
to birth it ourselves!

   © 2017 Todd Jenkins

Live It

fallA sermon riff on Matthew 23:1-12

 

The Pharisees’ talk 
is miles ahead of their walk,
their show far outpaces their go,
a saint is one thing they ain't.

Jesus differentiates between
the ones who are just
a flash in their own pan
and the ones the light shines through.

They're only platitudes
when our speaking
of them far exceeds
our living of them;

when what we say
is incongruent
with what we live;

when the verbal art
we paint is light years
beyond the canvas
of our ways;

when our talk and walk
are a bait and switch;
when we voice grace
but breathe fear.

The Communion of Saints includes
all those who ask forgiveness
when they live transactionally;
all those who choose
to see beyond binary thinking;
all those who find ways
to allow the transformational power
of grace to both enter in and pour out
of their broken, cracked places.

When the power of resurrection
seeps into our brokenness
at all the thin places
and thin times of our lives,

it is so radical and transformational
that the transactional world
cannot deal with it.

We begin to let go of all the pretending,
all the perfection, comparison, competition,
scarcity, fear, blaming, hoarding, ego;
all of the things by which
we had been controlled.

We begin to play by different rules.
The old rules, hard and fast
as they are, become insignificant;
not because we are above them,
but because we have been
moved beyond them.

We can no longer see and act
in binary fashion, checking off lists
of things we will or won't do
because they are right or wrong.

We are both under the control
of and set free by something
much bigger than law.

We are living through Love,
which turns out to be a messy,
complicated rule that refuses
to be exclusively held by anyone
or nailed to any particular place or time.

This Love is a gift.
We didn't earn it.
We don't own it.
We can't choose who deserves it,
because nobody does,
including us.

Yet it's been given to us anyway;
not just parceled out to us stingily,
but poured out on us extravagantly;

given to us so that
we can let its gift and power
soak all the way
to the marrow of our bones,

flushing out all hurt and hatred,
and all other lies of "not enough"
all falsehoods of “not good enough”;

given to us so that
we can reflect it to others;
so that we can share it
with everyone we meet.

Unlike all that other stuff
that controlled us,
this Love shrinks and dies
when we try to hoard it,
but grows and blossoms
when we give it away.

This is our mission –
our life's purpose
from this day forward –

to let the rule of Love
free us to respond with grace,
not because anyone has earned it,
but because we are all
dying without it.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Yarn

IMG_0895

Story is neither magic
nor medicinal,
in and of itself.

It is simply a way
of connecting yesterday's thread
of existence with today's,
laying groundwork
for the possibility of tomorrow.

It can be weaponized,
like most any tool,
when the tales told come
from a single source,
and one that’s oblivious
to every character but self.

If you want to feel
its purest form,
let a child spin you
yarns of truth formed
in the crucible
of innocence and vulnerability.

Then, you'll understand
the lines on which
the world turns.  

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Now Is the Time

IMG_7219Now Is the Time

There lies deep within 
  the human heart — yours,
    mine, and everyone else's — 
      a vision and desire 
    for how life is supposed 
  to be lived;

images of connection 
  without coercion, 
    dreams of enough 
      without competition, 
    hunger for community 
  without uniformity,

thirst for intimacy 
  without betrayal, 
    hope for understanding 
      without judgment, 
    longing for love 
  without condition.

All this is within us; 
  divine spark planted 
    before we were born.

There is but one impediment 
  to our bringing this vision 
    to life: fear.

Fear is a liar.

That is why so many stories
  of divine encounter begin
    with the holy plea, 
      "Fear not!"

Now is the time for us 
  to live from a deep place; 
    to rise up to the grace 
      for which we were created.

Now is the time for hope 
  to reveal the strong roots 
    she has sunk 
      in communities of faith, 
    to nourish our courage.

Now is the time.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Reach

zreach

Yesterday's festive sun-gazers
give little indication
of their recent glory,
as stooped and tired looking
as octogenarian day laborers
deprived of their pension.

We are all little more
than raisins in the sun,
as Mr. Hughes reminded us,
subject to so much pressure
from within, without;

fragile dreams escaping
into the night, or not,
whose purpose and connection
are surely, purely gift,
unless and until the bubble’s burst
by hate unleashed, and fear cursed.

Dream on; dream until
your dreams come true.
Shine, smile, stretch, reach,
as long as you’re rooted
in the garden of life,
if for no other reason
than someone else needs
to see you hope out loud.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Respite

zrespite

Hate rallies beneath its banners
of battles lost to hope and humanity,
frantically waving its flags,
furiously stoking fires of division,
refusing to let go,
doggedly extending the war,
unable to surrender to grace.

Together, we must all
keep marching toward
a narrative that brings us
to a place of peace
that passes understanding.

Until we arrive at such
a sacred respite,
the fighting will be interminable.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

May You

IMG_7351

For a while you shared a lifetime;
though it seems but a flash;
and never enough;
and always too soon;
and too painful to bear.

All of these are true.

May your memories,
and Keats and Oliver
and all the poets whose pens
were filled with the ink
of their own
painfully dripping blood,

and the DNA shared
with your kin — physical genes
as well as spiritual ones —
and the people who’ve been
and are your neighbors
through the years,
all weave a comforting blanket
of presence to brace
your tired shoulders
against the biting cold wind
of the valley
of the shadow of death.

May you take one step at a time,
one day at a time;
and on the days when you can
neither stand nor step,
may you find sleep,
if not dreams,
beneath a warm quilt of hope.

May there come a day
when the light pushes
the shadows back
into the deep woods
from whence you’ve journeyed
for much longer
than you dreamed possible.

May you recognize home,
once again;
and may your breath
be restored.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins