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

Here You Are

 
Here you are, neck deep 
in the blanket of comfort 
wrapped ‘round you 
by all whose words, 
visits, gifts, and prayers, 
arced toward the heavens, 
have carried you securely 
down a river that has wound 
through sharp canyons 
never before imagined. 

Here you are, heart full,
face now a tear-carved stream,
feet heavy, but propelled
by legs given strength 
from the cadence of home
burned into the memory
of your muscles. 

Here you are, heart a-marvel
at the ways grace continues
to unfold around you,
through you, and in you.  

Here you are, in search 
of another river, another path
where you can become
the word, presence, gift, prayer
for others who struggle to imagine 
that hope is within the realm of possibility. 

Here you are.

© 2021 Todd Jenkins

A Sign Screams

Photo by Holly Jenkins Williams

As a mother walks her young child 
down a local sidewalk, 
a sign screams and gives chase, 
as if the masks protecting their faces 
were evil itself, incarnate. 

The words, both painted with stilted font 
and shrieked in angry outrage, 
drip the blood of indifference 
from a wound of separation. 

Attached to the sign is another woman, 
probably a mom, too, 
hands clenched, knuckles white, 
as if relaxation, in any way, shape, or form, 
would unleash a cloud of demons 
never before seen. 

The young one, eyes agog, 
holds too little malice in his marrow 
to comprehend what is taking place. 

Dragged to temporary respite, 
shoulder wrenched and lungs pulsing, 
he stares at his mom, questioning 
with his whole being; 
but she has no answer. 

Does anyone? 

All she can do is shift toward 
what remains of their daily routine, 
hoping against hope 
that a newly shuffled sense of normal 
will knock on tomorrow's door, 
and whisper words of love 
that will float into his heart,
like a monarch migrating toward mercy. 
 
© 2021 Todd Jenkins

There Was a Time


There was a time 
when I dreamed of growing up
to become a cowboy, 
or even better, 
to quote my elementary self,
“a good Indian.”

There was a time 
when I understood less
but loved without inhibition. 

There was a time 
when I didn’t try to decide
whether a Samaritan 
was good or not, or
was worthy of love,
but loved without calculation. 

There was a time 
when I looked into others’ eyes
and saw pools of grace
reflecting from their hearts. 

There was a time 
when joy cut a rug 
with pure abandon,
and I joined her,
lurching across 
the chapter of my day 
in cavortial glee. 

My hope and prayer
is that today can,
again, be such a time. 

In my soul and 
in my life, O God, 
make “There was a time…” 
into “This is a time…”

© 2021 Todd Jenkins

Across the Mist

Photo by Owen Jenkins
(a riff on 1 Corinthians 13)
 
We are, all of us, 
either walking beside 
or wading in the river of life. 

Now we see 
across the mist, dimly; 
but when grace arrives 
in its fullness, 
the sun of love 
will cause the mist 
to evaporate, 
and we shall both fully know 
and be fully known. 

Help us, Lord, 
to use our whole selves — 
bodies, minds, and spirits — 
and all within our reach — 
time, talents, possessions — 
to keep the river flowing and fresh 
for all God’s children. 

© 2021 Todd Jenkins

Look

The thorny pods and stalks 
of wild teasel 

mirror the world around us, 

pokes and ouches everywhere;

and yet the beauty 
in the distance calls, 

yea, sings its love song. 

“Look up,” God said, 
“and I’ll scrawl 
a love letter to you 
across the sky.”

“Look down, 

and I’ll bloom some beauty 

for you from the ground.”

“Look around with your heart,

and what you’ll see

are the people and things

whose notes, rests 

and time signatures

help complete the song

of your life.”


"Look within the deepest part

of who you are, 

and you will see a reflection 

of love-breathed grace

that’s made to overflow 

into all the world."


© 2021 Todd Jenkins  

We’ll Fly Away

I'm teaching at Living Waters for the World's 
"Clean Water U" this week, 
so I thought I'd share the hopes and dreams 
of water saints around the world:
 
Some glad morning when the COVID’s gone
we’ll fly away
to the land of our water partners’ home
we’ll fly away
we’ll fly away to see you
we’ll fly away
When we can, we’ll be coming to your land
we’ll fly away
 
Pumps and filters, ozonator too
we’ll fly away
covenant and plans for what to do
we’ll fly away
we’ll fly away to see you
we’ll fly away
When we can, we’ll be coming to your land
we’ll fly away
Yes, when we can, we’ll be coming to your land
we’ll fly away

© 2021 Todd Jenkins

Always a Child


So much seems hopeless; 
every breath, an epic struggle, 
only to be pursed from our lips 
with little or no comprehension 
of oxygenation. 

Just gasping, wheezing, 
and more gasping. 

Fire and flood, 
caustic fumes and walls of water, 
descend in utter suffocation, 
our eyes aglow in pain, 
our lungs overwhelmed, 
our hearts redlining.

Bodies piling up like cordwood,
species and habitats erased 
with the ease of firmly shaking
an Etch-a-Sketch, 
never to be heard from again. 

...

   ... 

Then comes the fragile cry 
of life's first breath; 
a newborn screams its tiny song, 
barely audible,
even to those nearest, 
and the Richter scale holds firm, 
as if nothing has happened. 

Yet... 


Yet, somewhere, somehow, 
in the wonder of innocent creativity, 
one who refuses to unbelieve,
one whose imagination
knows no bounds, and
whose hopes are raw and unvarnished,
steps out, speaks up, steps up, 
and gossamer wings of possibility flap, 
as love's deepest yearning floats,
gliding above a fetid planet. 

Is it your child?
Is it mine?
Maybe not, but it is a child, 
and that is what matters; 
that is what keeps us in orbit, 
despite the chaos and pain.

Where the child dreams, 
life will always continue. 

Yes, a child; 
it’s always a child. 

© 2021 Todd Jenkins

Lane


In the town where you reside,
on the pavement where you abide,
the names of paths given,
attempt to reflect our livin’
providing directional guide. 

The streets run one way,
the roads have their own say,
the avenues are directional,
the boulevards, intersectional,
highways use numerical display.

As precursor to drones from above,
God told Noah to send out the doves.
They returned with leaves from a tree
so all creation could clearly see
we’re meant to live on a lane named Love. 

© 2021 Todd Jenkins

Conversant


These days, I feel like I’m stuck 
in an old Lynyrd Skynyrd song, 
minus the coke, smoke, 
and the needle in my arm:

“Ooooh that smell
Can't you smell that smell
Ooooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you”

Family members, old friends, 
the children of dear friends… 
and the list keeps piling up. 

One way or another,
one time or another,
the conversation is 
a daily occurrence. 

Sometimes it’s about the past;
memories of days gone by 
and people long-passed. 

Other times, 
I imagine the future, 
chatting about what if, and when. 

The best of them, however,
are the stories spoken 
in the here and now, 
when I’m reminded to not let 
the moment go unnoticed, 
to not let the words 
go unsaid, 
to not leave the love 
bottled up. 

Yes, Death and I 
talk every day. 

I think of us
as old friends 
who’ll one day meet
and be glad 
that our daily conversations
were able to erase 
the fear that wafted 
between us. 

In the midst of all the ways 
that our lives seem 
to be circling the drain, 
our deepest prayer 
is for you, O God,
to show up and show out,
not so much in dramatic fashion,
as in the attentive embrace
of unconditional love’s blanket,
deeply settling our hearts’ rhythm. 

© 2021 Todd Jenkins

Eden


He sent me another poem:

I pluck an apple off a tree,
shine it on my shirt,
bite deeply to its core.
Cheeks bulge with bits,
Juice dribbles down my chin. 
I tilt my head up on a sunny Fall day.
Boyhood smiles light my old man's face.

It was the whispering 
and not the crunch
of the apple 
that ruined Eden. 

Mark

I responded:

Tell me of that whisper, 
young child. 
What did yours say? 
What did it ask? 
What did it promise? 

Mine? 
It said all these things; 
not with certitude, 
but with a mix of uncertainty, 
not yet, and maybe, 
that only a well-rehearsed 
actor could muster:

"I hear that the 
guy down the road 
has better apples; 
brighter, crisper, larger. 

And he's building a big fence 
around his orchard,
 'cause he knows 
you want his apples. 

If you want, 
we can sneak down there 
after dark and grab a few 
of his apples, 
not just for the taste of them, 
mind you, but also for the seeds. 

You can become the best apple farmer 
in the whole county. 
What do you say? 
Are you game?"

All that 
"king of the apple orchard" talk, 
and now I've almost forgotten 
what my old man's smile 
looked and felt like 
when it fell 
on my eyes and my heart.

© 2021 Todd Jenkins