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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Full Flow

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Greed is total surrender
to the fear that,
despite today’s sufficiency,
tomorrow will leave us resourceless;
and therefore,
too much is never enough.

It’s a frenetic piling-on
creating utter breathlessness.

We are (meaning “I am,
and I invite you
to confess your complicity.”)
slow to recognize
that the ability
to tightly hold things
with our tiny hands and
the small part
of our mind and soul
that value such grasping,
is the greatest impediment
to accepting all that for which
God has created us.

Hope is the antidote,
as holy respiration,
allowing us to breathe
deeply and slowly,
palms upturned and open,
so that more of who we’re
meant to be can settle on us,
even wash over us.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 

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One Foot

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Shadows cast themselves
across the path,
entirely convinced
they are chains,
if not barbed wire,
fully capable
of strangling all movement
in any direction.

But I, vessel
of light and dark,
fire and ice,
have burst
across their boundaries
time and again,
brimming with hope
in a sea of despair,

not because
of who I am,
but because
of what love’s done;
not because
of what I’ve done,
but because
of who grace is.

Let us,
both you and I,
break into
an all-out sprint,
flinging ourselves across
these penumbral barriers
like Olympians
at the finish line,
leaning into
and breaking the tape
of victory’s wreath.

This is the courage
by which we 
who’ve plumbed
the depths of despair
keep putting one foot
in front of the other,

because our deeps
keep telling us
there’s not only light
beyond the valley
of the shadow of darkness,
but life
in its richest manifestation.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 

Wild Words

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When language is also open
    to emotion, as opposed
    to intellect alone,
    it is less controllable,
    and thus threatening
to the status quo.

Feelings, and words infused
    with their energy, can be
volatile change-agents.

I suspect that poetry,
    with its clandestine double entendre
    and metaphorical open-endedness,
    rests near the limit
    of our privileged ability to hear,
    without being shocked
into shut-down.

Narrative preaching,
    in its often-predictable 
    fairy-tale-ness,
    is good for the business
of the stock-market classes.

One of the few challenges
    to that is parable,
    which Jesus either
    used a whole lot,
    or it was about the only thing
    that survived generations
    of oral transmission and memory
between Golgotha and the gospels.

Even the remembrance
    of Jesus’ parables rarely,
    if ever, includes 
    the Nathan-to-David
    prophetic table-turn of,
“You’re the man!”

Security, prosperity,
    and social dominance
    are mammon
    of crack-cocaine allure,
    depriving those addicted —
    both speaker and listeners —
    of the essential gift
of life-giving manna.

Their anesthesia-like qualities
    stand guard at the door,
    duct-taping emotion’s mouth
before it ever leaves the heart.

“Big boys don’t cry.”
    the guards say, and,
    “Frozenness is a sign
    of chosenness.”
    as well as,
    “He who controls his feelings,
    and thus his words,
controls the world.”

And then the poet
    bursts upon the scene,
    or maybe just scribbles a few stanzas
    on a sea of blank space,
    threatening to unleash
    a marrow-deep flood
of soul-wrenching response.

Lord, in your mercy,
uncork our hearts.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 

Glory

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What if glory
is the God-gap:
an overflowing,
nearly-overwhelming  presence
that results from a guilt-free,
jealously-free celebration
of the fundamental distinction
between God and the rest
of the universe?

What if God is glorified
when we rightly perceive
the relationship between
God and all else,
especially the relationship
between God and us?

To do so is to take absolute joy
in this great chasm
precisely because we understand
that it is neither
a measure of our failure,
nor an object to be desired,
but rather an appropriate space
in which God can be present
to, with, and for us.

What if glory
is God’s dance floor?

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Have

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Dr. King said,
“I HAVE a dream...”
It was a present tense
reality for him.

It’s quite evident that
the doing hasn’t
yet caught up
with the dreaming.

I’m even concerned
about the dreaming,
at this point.

Have we let that dream
become past tense;
one that WAS HAD?

Or are we still willing
to carry it forward,
in the present tense,
and even into the future?

Unless the dream
is kept alive —
in the HAVE tense —
the doing will wither
on the vine.

Will you keep
dreaming it with me?
Will you also
be a doer with me?

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 

4 Steps

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Love
Betrayal
Death
Resurrection;
four steps
of the dance of life.

Forth and back we go,
moment by moment,
step by step;
dips, turns, spins;
often breathless,
even dizzy.

Seldom are the people
in our inner circle
all on the same measure,
much less the same note.

Rarely do our tempos coincide.

But if we pay attention,
and hold one another
with tender, open hands,
the dissonance
of our differences
is significantly overshadowed
by the rhythmic sway
of the cosmos’ heartbeat.

Thump, thump.
Thump, thump.

Breathe.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Three Days

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Or is it forever?

Since creation’s dawning,
dirt — humus —
has absorbed whatever liquid
gravity pulls toward earth’s core.

Grief trickling from all eyes;
brow-sweat of every effort;
life-source of each animal;
all soaked into the soil
as thirsty sponge
drawing all toward the center.

Gethsemane could be
no exception.

Anxiety of relational rending;
exertion of mortal desire;
arterial drip of ethereal hope;
all lay the groundwork
for betrayal, struggle,
and surrender.

Then there followed
three days of hell.

They stare at the ground,
waiting for creation
to happen all over again;

all senses and emotions
begging for dirt to be shaped
and breathed into once more;
afraid that it won’t,
yet scared to death that it will;

and the trinity of human desire
saturates the ground
over and over and over again:
tears, sweat, and blood.

Luke 22:44
In his anguish 
he prayed more earnestly, 
and his sweat became 
like great drops of blood 
falling down on the ground.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Vacancy

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        On a hotel or motel sign,
      it beams into the darkness
    to make sure every passerby knows
  at least one more room has been cleaned
and prepared for occupancy.

        How many of the things
      with which we fill our lives
    and schedules are attempts
  to switch off the “Vacancy” sign
in our souls?

  “Doing” will never dim
that flashing neon sign.

    It takes “being”
  and even resting
to accomplish that.

      It takes recognizing that both
    our existence and our purpose
  are inextricably linked
to God as well as to others.

        Fulfillment comes
       when the less-obnoxious
      but quite obvious light
    in our eyes that radiates
  from the depth of our soul
whispers, “Whole.”

      The day when the vacancy sign
    is forever replaced
  with the fullness of grace,
we will be able to sing,

      “Whole at last;
    whole at last!
  Thank God almighty,
I’m whole at last!”

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Unholy Week

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The adventuresome among us
would like to take a zip line
from the Triumphal Entry,
or maybe even from all the way back
at the mount of Transfiguration,
to the empty tomb.

The more acrophobic among us
would prefer an enclosed cable car
for the quick and easy journey.

But there is no such shortcut.

Lent is a journey we make,
year after year, not because
it’s fun or enjoyable,
or even because we want to,
but because we understand
that it’s the only way;

the only way to find ourselves
on the far side of crucifixion,
in the garden, staring
at the rolled-away stone
and the empty tomb,
incredulous as much because
of Jesus’ resurrection as because
we’ve been forgiven and freed.

Lent is the place where we go
to die, because we feel,
deep in our innards,
that dying is the only path
to being raised to new life.

Lent is the place and the time
when we prepare ourselves
to admit that we are not only
among the Unholy Week palm-wavers
shouting, “Ho-she-annah!
Save us NOW!”
but also among the angry crowd
shouting, “Crucify him!”

Lent is the journey.
Holy Week is upon us.
Now is the time.
Let us dare to claim
its courage.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 

Labor of Love

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I want what I deserve...
  but I also want to decide
    who else is and isn't deserving.

Is that too much to ask;
  to be labor, management,
    and maybe even God,
      all rolled into one?

It sounds so much worse
  when we say it out loud
    than when we practice it
      in our own hearts,
        doesn't it?

And the vineyard owner asks,
  (Matthew 20:15)
  "Am I not allowed to do 
      what I choose 
      with what belongs to me? 
      Or are you envious 
      because I am generous?" 

Grace: it's bigger
  than we hoped;
    which will turn out
      to be good news
      when we get
      to the heart
      of the matter
      and the heart
      of all that matters.

Until then, it's like a stream
  of water flowing through
    a barren land,
    carving out a beautiful valley
    and smoothing the jagged edges
    of fear, assumption, and judgment
    by which we are constantly
    injuring ourselves and others.

Let it flow,
  dear Lord,
    let it flow!

© 2018 Todd Jenkins