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

One and the Same Time

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By memory we define ourselves;
bits and pieces of days gone by,
fed by stored mental photographs,
watered by emotion's tears
of both sorrow and joy
at one and the same time.

Through memory we anchor ourselves
to pasts cringeworthy and exemplary
at one and the same time.

Growing memory, we construct ourselves
into observers of each present moment,
anchored by virtue's roots and
rising above villain's graves
at one and the same time.

In sleeping memory,
we dream ourselves into tomorrows,
slogging through valleys of despair
and wafting on currents of celestial breath
at one and the same time.

Searching for  memory,
we watch loved ones lose
bits and pieces of their story,
lamenting fragments
faded long-past sepia
and rejoicing in brief flashes
of love and cognizance
at one and the same time.

In memory we hallow special days,
honoring so many brave ones
who've sacrificed and pushing back
against the hell of war's existence
at one and the same time.

Resurrecting memory,
we weave a sacred response
to grace's unfettered gift,
lamenting all the times
it steadily swirls around us unnoticed
and praising Yahweh for the glimpses
convincing us to dive in headlong
at one and the same time.

By memory we were and
are and will continue to be held,
when we've forgotten all and
when we’ve remembered scarcely enough
at one and the same time.

Memory: our deepest curse
and richest blessing
at one and the same time.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Blanket

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Prayers surround you
like a generations-old blanket,
pieces of stories and times past
stitched together
with a myriad of emotions,
dusty with the scent
from faded memories
of many a stripe and ilk,
stuffed with down
from birds long-since
traversed Tennyson's bar.
May you find warmth, comfort,
and sufficient breath
for such a starless sky,
all gently pulling you
into dawns to come.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Scar

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We are a people of scars,
neither guaranteed protection
nor escape
from pain's slice and consequences.

  But we are also created
  for healing;
  not healing whose visibility
  or consequences vanish;

    people who are found
    by a forgiveness
    that debrides our wounds,
    rinsing away anger, malice,
    resentment, and vengeance,
    disinfecting them with grace,
    packing them with mercy;
    people whose flesh falls back together,
    not in seamless invisibility,
    but rough, bumpy reminders
    of our past;
    people who somehow
    find the courage to seek catharsis
    in our history's telling;

  people whose hearts
  are forever being pointed
  toward the true north of hope.

Yes, this is who we are;
not perfected but blemished,
not fearless but courageous,
not arrived but journeying;
journeying together.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 

This Just In

LL McPhoto by Lee Lindsey McKinney

Fear divides, intent
on conquering with its,
“Vive la différence!”

Love unites, earnestly
calling us together,
“Vive la similarité!”

What matters is not 
the color of our skin,
the roots of our faith,
or the nation of our origin,

but whether privilege
can truly be acknowledged,
voluntarily relinquished,
and power bestowed with grace,

so long-held shackles
can be hammered
into step-ladders of hope.

It is past time for us
to work better, together,
nourishing and quenching
a world hungry for dignity
and thirsty for respect.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 

Holy Ground

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“Observe the drama; 
don't be the drama.” 

On the beach,
you can remove your sandals
and walk parallel
to the ocean,
letting the waves lap
at your feet when they're
at their weakest –
the turning point –
just before the water's energy
pulls it back toward
the edge of earth and sky.

The wet and not-wet,
soft and firm sand
at the edge of the tide
is holy ground.

Further inland,
from which daily existence
seems to call,
it feels like burning bushes
are more common,
and our feet quickly begin
to scorch as we are pulled
from fire to fire.

Fire-walkers will tell you
that, even with seasoned soles,
we must wait for the ash
to form over the smoldering coals
before we dare
to pass over someone else's drama.

I think this requires sitting
and listening longer,
moving and speaking less.

Maybe it also requires love.

Perhaps there is
no true resurrection
without love, because, 
sans the particularity
of deep-marrow knowing
and being known,
bringing back people
from the dead is a parlor trick
at best, and Groundhog Day
at worst, in which we have
to suffer the same
anonymous meaninglessness
of life over and over,
convinced that a single detail changed
will somehow create a fairy tale life.

Let us love deeply;
deeper today than yesterday;
deeper tomorrow than today;
deeper giving than we've received;
deeper from the tomb
than we can imagine escaping.

Yes, deeply, for this is how
we find ourselves being raised
out of that which never
really approached life anyway.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 

You

FullSizeRender (100)Yes, you…

Momming is identified,
not by biology, but
by its web of care,
its haven of hope,
its manuscript of guidance,
its blanket of prayer,
its fire of indignation,
its roots of relationship,
its watering can of nurture,
its stove of nourishment,
its taxi of deliverance (and sometimes rescue),
its bottomless bucket of belief,
its bone-deep compassion and grief,
its purse of support,
its sermon of conviction,
its cheer of encouragement,
and quite a few more
that often fade into the backdrop.

A toast to you,
and all the ways
you've mommed us:
may your spiritual DNA
keep the universe
expanding toward grace!

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Generosity

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Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home, and ate their food with glad and generous hearts… (Acts 2:46)

 

This past Sunday’s sermon was from Acts 2:42-47. The sermon title was “Glad and Generous Hearts” (from 2:46). This week, after the sermon (of course!), I saw the sermon come to life.

Patrick (pictured above) is a 24 year old student in Malawi. He is studying to become a midwife, and dreams of opening an orphanage after he graduates, to care for the many parentless children in his country. Patrick is an orphan whose parents died years ago (dad in 1998, and mom in 2006). He is raising three younger siblings.

Here is a photo of his family: Patrick, his sister Thandie, brother Madziko, and sister Dorothy. A fifth sibling, a brother, died last year because there was no money to pay for medicine to treat his malaria.

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A pastor friend of mine (who oversees a mission organization pairing US partners with orphans in nearby Rwanda) is paying Patrick’s tuition each semester, with whatever money he makes from part-time side-work reselling vintage items he finds in thrift stores, and other “found” money that materializes on occasion.

A few people in one of the small congregations I serve are pitching-in to provide educational uniforms and fees, as well as a small amount of money for food, for his two youngest siblings. Without funds for their education, they have been unable to attend school.  Thandie, Patrick’s oldest sister, has finished secondary school and dreams of attending university to become a licensed caregiver for people with special needs (mentally and physically challenged), but there are no funds for her college education now.

This picture is of Patrick and two other orphans from his community. When he was home on break from school this week, he met these two, six year-old Innocent, and nine year-old Innocecia. He spent his own money to buy them clothes, shoes, books, school supplies, and food.

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Whenever I imagine that I don’t have enough money to share with others, Patrick’s story helps me keep things in perspective. It reminds me that the human heart holds the world’s greatest treasures: love, compassion, and generosity.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Priesthood of All Believers

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When chaos,
disaster, disease,
and even death
invade others' lives,

our presence,
mostly in silence,
will mediate grace
much more wholly
than telling them
our comparative story.

The time for narrative connection
may come, but give us courage,
O God, to wait
until we're invited.

It won’t likely occur
until grief and agony
have held their sway,
and hope has wafted in
through a window partially cracked
by our steadfast,
listening presence.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Poet

IMG_9436Photo by DeEtta Harris Jenkins

To borrow a book title from one of my seminary professors, 
Dr. Walter Brueggemann, Finally Comes the Poet.

space-maker, mold-breaker, heart-shaker…

thought-drifter, shape-shifter, dream-sifter…

bell-ringer, tear-bringer, sweat-wringer…

trip-booker, fresh-looker, love-cooker…

beast-tamer, peace-framer, grace-namer…

risk-taker, earth-quaker, hope-baker…

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Counting

 

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Yes, we feel numbers
being flung at us
from the budget,
as well as the calendar,
and the clock,
like the daggers
from a stage act,
and we swear we've never
seen the blindfolded wielder before.

But while we're bobbing and weaving,
clinging to the hope that
we'll make it to next year
and beyond with a modicum
of courage, sanity, and purpose,
I have a few
molasses-freezing questions;
ones that might unpack
a dream we don't remember.

They seem to me to be
the kind of questions
that our revered institutions
must face in this
particular time and place:

What if we found out
that the thing we financially
couldn't afford to do
was the very thing
we organizationally and existentially
couldn't afford not to do?

To put it another way:
Which costs matter most,
and how will we count them?
What risks must we take
in order to face
the future with integrity?

© 2017 Todd Jenkins