Respecting the awesome power of words!

Archive for September, 2016

Prodigal Hope

                Photo by Jarred Hammet


No matter how long
we ignore, deny, or hide
our true selves from others
and even from our own egos,
we don't disappear,

and there's no expiration date
after which we become
sour or unusable.

But when we live hard and fast
in denial, searching for self,
worth, and acceptance
in all the external places
for so many years,

there arises a great sadness
for lost time with our true selves;
a sorrow that can only be overcome
by a recognition and acceptance

of the unconditional love and grace
of the One who waits on the porch
day after day, straining to see and
hear us walking back toward home,
muscles twitching to race
down the road toward us.

This is deepest prodigal hope.
There's nothing greater,
but there's also nothing scarier. 

© 2016 Todd Jenkins




"We give the care we need."
she said, lamenting
a grieving friend's reluctance
to accept care from others.

Ain't that the truth!
It's so hard to receive
when our giving mode is engaged.

If the oceans did that,
waving in a single direction,
the tide would never turn,
inland ground would be flooded,
and the fish would die
from lack of water.

No wonder the moon
is so vigilant in her rhythm
of swinging low,
then backing away;
of pulling and then letting go.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins



             Photo by Gay Jenkins Kallschmidt

The prophets of old
stand with and for
the widow, orphan, and sojourner, 
just to name a few,
still speaking truth
to my power
and your power,

not because they had
psychic ability
to see into the future,

but because power's
seduction and anesthesia
have been the same since Eden.

The gospel calls us
to not only accept
this truth about the ways
we have lived
with privilege unawares,
unquestioned, unexamined,

but also to speak
this societal truth ourselves,
not just in our worship,
but in the marketplace,
in the schoolhouse,
in the courthouse,  
in the statehouse, and
in the neighborhoods.

It calls us to stand against
exploitation and oppression;
to live and breathe
justice and dignity
in ways that make them
a reality in the lives
of all our communities.

Let us not just be the
gathered religious community,
but let us also dare
to become the sent prophets.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins


Brother to Brother

Photo by Holly Jenkins Williams


On the inside,
  where we are all
    more alike than different,
      it’s possible to see,
    at a level far beyond
  the human eye,
places where the similarities
  are light years beyond coincidental,
    where the grand design
      at our very core
    is inextricably woven
  into a bond beyond breaking.

Hold this disease-ravaged tapestry
in your strong but tender hands, O God.

Breathe your life-giving spirit
into both of them.

As the medical team
  pairs core fluids
    in a holy dance,
      let your sacred song
    ring long and strong,
  and give us the beat,
that we may sing
  the refrain of your praise.

So let it be written;
  so let it be played;
    so let it be sung;
  so let it be danced;
so let it be done.


© 2016 Todd Jenkins




                                         Clean Water U #53

I left my heart
with Living Waters;
newfound friends
and filters blue.
And if you serve
with Living  Waters,
I bet you’ll leave
your heart there too.

I’m going out
to share clean water,
and deep within
to make some space.
I’m going out
with Living Waters.
I’m hoping to
be found by grace.

Living Waters for the World
( tune: “Wayfaring Stranger”)

© 2016 Todd Jenkins



                 Photo by Jennie Roberts Jenkins

As I stood in the Customer Service queue,
  my mind and heart were conflicted.
    It seemed to be such a lovely gift,
      with so much promise and security.

    How could I think of returning it
  for something else, and
what else could I need or want?

Each time I used it,
  I felt so confident and self-assured.
    I hardly noticed the way
      it created distance between us;

        how it funneled a mass of possibilities
      into a narrow chute of constriction.
    But my breathing had become
  labored over time, as if
a heavy stone pressed against my chest.

Whatever this gift had promised
  in its advertising and promotion,
    my body was telling me it was a lie.

    When my turn finally came, I placed
  the well-worn box on the counter.
"How can I help you?" the clerk inquired.

"This doesn't do for me
  what I thought it would.
    I'd like to exchange it
      for something else."

"I see." she replied.

"I'd like to exchange this
  Control for more Awareness."

      There have been days
    when I’ve wanted to go back
  and ask for it again, but then I realize
how much my lungs have expanded;

how much more all the sensations,
  within and without, have blossomed;
    how I find myself experiencing life
      in ways I'd never before imagined;

      how I’m starting to realize I am surrounded,
    every day and every moment,
  by so much joy and beauty
just waiting to be noticed.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins



The breadth and terrain
of the mountain pass
between the lush valley
of our expectations
and the harsh plains
of reality are primarily determined
by our perception of life;

not so much
by what happens to us,
as by how we perceive
and prepare for what is
in front of us on a daily basis.

Life itself is propelled
by change. The question
is not “Will we change, and
will the world change?”
but “How and why
will we change, and how
and why will our changing
change the world?”

A common human tendency
is to try to change the world
in ways that don’t require
us to change;

to squeeze the universe,
and all the people around us,
into the box of our own
comfortable perception
of how things ought to be.

This is the pass
of greatest harm
and least effectiveness.

There is only one person
you can change:
the one staring at you
in the mirror when you are
all by your lonesome.

Here’s the hidden-in-plain-sight
secret of the universe:
When you consent
to a divine changing
of yourself in ways that make
the world around you
a more giving and forgiving place,
you are joining in
the sacred response of grace.

This is how the valley
of expectation opens
into a plain of hopeful reality,
shaping the pass into
a broad and level road to hope.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins


A Different Road


                     Photo by Anne Shurley

This date, September 11,
has become for us,
O God, a suitcase full
of jumbled memories
and emotions for the past 15 years.

As we lift our hearts and minds
to you, this day, remind us
that the real question
is not Alan Jackson’s:
“Where were you when
the world stopped turning
that September day?”
but “Where have we been
since then, and who are we now?”

Remind us that the quickest way
for terror to win is for hatred,
fear, anxiety, and xenophobia to flourish.

Remind us that it will be defeated
when understanding, hope, education,
peace, and love triumph.

Remind us that grace is the gift
we have been given
to bring to the struggle.

As a human race, O God, we
are slow to learn that death may not be
the most effective response to hatred,
dehumanization not the most healthy means
of international relations,
and preemption leaves a bit to be desired
as a reaction to terrorism.

When we fail to see the direct correlation
of escalation, somehow blinded by moral superiority,
let us not also be blinded to transforming alternatives.

Help us, O Lord, to seek paths toward peace
that have not been irreparably rutted
by the supply train of war’s weaponry.

Help nations to find workable ways
to weave justice together with mercy,
so that innocent life does not become
the debris of international confrontation.

We remember not only the potential casualties
in the civilian population, but also
the thousands of men and women
who have accepted the calling
as first responders and of soldierhood—
those who daily face the front line,
squeezing the precious tube of courage,
risking life and limb.

If ever there was a need for guardian angels,
it is on the neighborhood streets-turned battlefield.
Send your angels to do your watching,
O God. Send your angels!

More than never forgetting this date,
and what happened
across this country 15 years ago,
let us always remember,
which is not really the same.

Never forgetting is a way
of holding-on to the past,
with no clear avenue to the future;

always remembering
is a gift for carrying forward,
in hopeful and life-giving ways,
the people and stories who preceded us.

May we re-member and reanimate
the lives of those
whose bravery and sacrifice
are foundations for our existence,
with enough consciousness and courage
to differentiate between love for them
and revulsion for what they had to do.

Let waving flags and unwavering pride
neither swell for the hell of war itself,
nor for the hatred
of a people we call “other”,
but for those who descended
into war’s bowels, by force or by choice,
to face the demons formed
when greed, godlessness,
and fear overcome
the common bonds of all humanity,
and when politics unleashes ego,
declaring collateral damage acceptable.

Let one-eyed squints
down loaded barrels
be not consumed
by death’s insatiable appetite;
praying, instead,
to seek paths to de-escalation.

May our memories of those
whose lives were taken
by war in all its forms;
lives taken in whole or part,
and those whose appearance and affect
seem to have mostly dodged destruction;
be one part filled with love, respect,
and appreciation for their selfless answer
to duty’s call, and another part filled
with the grief of knowing that we must
somehow find a different road to walk.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins




When we've had a bate
of human-to-human interaction,
when hurt and frustration
have burned up the highway
in and from all directions,

when up is no longer
distinguishable from down,
or right from wrong,
send your canine, feline, equine,
and other species of saints,
O Lord, to mirror holy listening,
sacred silence, and unconditional love
for us, so that we
may still, sit, scratch,
and pet ourselves back

into our niche in creation's order,
instead of stowing-away
to an uninhabited island.
Holidays 01 012
© 2016 Todd Jenkins


Monkey in the Middle


Somewhere between 
the three monkeys of denial:
[1] see no evil, 
[2] hear no evil 
[3] speak no evil;

and the three monkeys of blame: 
[1] blame-monkey #1 believes 
the mirror is a magnifying glass 
through which we're examining 
the flaws of others, 
instead of looking at ourselves; 

[2] blame-monkey #2 sees 
the microscope as a telescope, 
so he thinks he's looking 
at faraway problems 
when the problems 
are actually close to home; 

[3] blame-monkey #3 is sure 
all that's wrong with the world 
and his life is somebody else's fault…

Somewhere between 
these two sets of monkey triplets 
lies a sacred space 
where it's not only safe, but wise, 
cathartic, and sacred to admit, 
"This IS my circus, 
and these ARE my monkeys. 
I may even be one of the monkeys." 

This is the space called grace.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins