(when Psalm 22 stares back at you from the mirror)
"My sons and daughters,
why have you forsaken them?
Why are you so far from responding
to the their cries and groanings?
They beseech you in daylight,
wailing at the wall you’ve constructed
to separate their lives
from your comfort and security.
By night, their pleas waft
on smoldering embers
of their deconstruction."
The victors have constructed
a lovely narrative of deliverance;
their cry, God’s response;
like a sacred vending machine,
fed with the coin of deserving.
But what of those who are judged
to be subpar, those whose DNA,
language, or faith heritage
come from beyond
the 23&me dream package?
What of those who showed up
for work or school or worship,
oblivious to the call to pack heat
those who trusted that
the least of these, the lambs,
would be protected
by the Great Shepherd’s shepherds?
They counted on us to carry them;
to be there, not just in the delivery room,
but at the grocery store checkout,
the public library, the classroom,
the youth group meeting, the job fair.
Is our absence because
we don’t really care, or because
we’re actually the carnivores
circling ‘round them?
Their tongues glue to the roof
of their mouths, like jerky
dried for consumption,
salted with the tears of their anguish.
Their skin taut, revealing
a cadaverous collection of bones.
The coyotes circle,
yipping and nipping,
casting lots for what little remains.
The dream we sold them
promised they’d have a shot;
guaranteed dignity, respect,
but the fine print and disclaimer
excluded them for myriad reasons,
mostly because we feared
that including them
would cost us too much.
We are slow to catch on, O Lord;
blind and deaf and too scared
to realize that tossing them
to the curb is infinitely more costly
than we ever dreamed,
because it has cost us our very souls.
Is there still time, still hope,
still opportunity to pull
more chairs ‘round the table?
If we feed those who’ve been starved,
welcome those who’ve been exiled,
humble ourselves before you and pray,
will you make your light shine
upon us all, once again?
We wrap ourselves
with the sackcloth of confession,
and dust ourselves
with the ash of contrition,
O holy one, in hopes
that our forsaking
will not become our forsakenness.
Deliver us, we pray,
that we may live
to proclaim your story
to generations yet to come.
© 2018 Todd Jenkins