Respecting the awesome power of words!

Archive for October, 2016

Voices

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We are fast approaching
a new and alternate abyss
of American Exceptionalism,
where any lie becomes acceptable,
so long as it reinforces
(or at least does not contradict)
our fantasy of remaining
at the top of the heap;

where the underlying "except"
is that everyone is uninvited
except us and the people
we've yet to fear or despise.

We dare not look down
at our feet or believe the screaming
of our olfactory receptors.

The pile on which we stand
contains the rotting carcasses
of all creation, consumed in the name
of security and entertainment.

Perhaps, most telling is the fantasy
on which we're hell-bent;
an altered reality –
as we are wont to label it –
in which everything is never enough
and no one can be sufficiently vetted;

an eerie vacuum
of loneliness and trustlessness.

We bow before the altar
of consumption, offering a gift
whose pricelessness is
long-forgotten: our very selves.

The (s)election of high priest
for this cult is only
with regard to appearance.

No matter which choice we make,
what happens on the judgment seat
behind the curtain in this
profanity of profanities will not change.

Hope whispers her sacred plea,
"Speak now or forever forego peace."

"Lift every voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list'ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith
that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope
that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun
of our new day begun,
Let us march on
till victory is won."
(James Weldon Johnson)

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Koinonia

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Photo by Gay Jenkins Kallschmidt

      In the songs and conversations,
    as well as prayers and explanations,
  if what you hear is a list
of those we should mistrust,
      instead of an invitation
    to hope ourselves farther
  down the road to community;

    if what you're invited to visualize
  is a people so other that
you're no longer able
    to recognize our shared humanity,

    then you should keep
  your shoes and coat on and
keep walking down the road a piece,
    until you find a table around which
  a narrative of grace is being shared;

    for this is the only meal
  that'll slake our inner thirst
and satisfy our deepest hunger.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

 


Curtains

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Photo by Jennie Roberts Jenkins

When the curtain is pulled back,
  and our social, economic,
    and political choices are revealed
      in the light of day,

I suspect we'll recognize
  the influence of a lot less grace
    and community than we'd hoped,
      and a lot more fear
    and separation than we'd imagined.

Faith and the journey
  of spiritual formation require
    that we allow sacred questions
      to ask themselves
    throughout our relational reasoning
  and decision-making processes,

which is very different
  from giving scared questions
    a platform or squeezing
      perceived reality into a tidy
    doctrinal box of our own choosing.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

 


Word to Word

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Those who own the words
own the world.

With ownership comes responsibility.

Responsibility demands accountability.

Accountability requires relationship.

Relationship creates community.

Community offers the possibility of hope.

Hope is the word that owns us all.

From words to hope,
what goes around, comes around.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins


DNR or DNA

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Voting booth curtain closes;
staring at me is a long list of names.
Most of them have associated faces,
many also have slogans and claims.

Over each bunch, there are titles;
once dignified, but now not so much,
and I’m supposed to pick
the best fruit for the future.

It’s been an ugly two years,
this protracted election cycle,
with more than enough
self-aggrandizement and
other-accusation to make even
the strongest stomachs queasy.

So much sleight-of-tongue
has been used,
attempting to convince me
that these people are my kin –
that we share political and economic,
if not physical DNA, and
our collective dissociation
from the rest is what matters.

But as rhetorical hate has risen,
and tempers with it,
something deep in my soul
tells me that divisiveness and
fear mongering are not the way.

There’s a calmer voice whispering
in between the jingoistic fireworks,
pulling us together,
instead of tearing us apart.

It maps a more grand
genetic strand that’s shared
by all; one of spiritual origins.

The whispered plea
I’ve heard over and
over again for years:

“If we don’t find ways
to keep ourselves
in this together,
we will find ourselves
out of it, apart.”

Before we reach
the DNR order, can we
map a course that holds
our social and cultural
double helix together?

Lord, have mercy!

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

 


Holey

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"Holy, Holy, Holy!"
is a declaration
about divine character.

Our song? Maybe
it's more like,
"Holey, Holey, Wholly!"

We are tempted,
by culture's competency
and competition,
to leave the holey parts
of ourselves at home
or locked in the trunk

when we gather
as a community of faith,
thereby removing our
shadowed selves
from the redeeming power
of confession,
forgiveness, and grace.

Rest assured, the only way
to wholly become the beings
for which we were created,
is to bring all of our holey selves
to the holy table.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Steps

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"I'm not really a dancer." I said.

Something quaked
at the center of my soul,

"Yeah, this isn't really about
what you think you're good at
or what you believe
makes you look good."

"But, I don't have rhythm!"

"You can breathe, can't you?
In and out, with a tick-tocking flow,
especially when you
slow down and pay attention."

"Well, yeah; there's that;
but I'm more of a walker,
or even a runner.
I mostly want to make progress;
to get where I'm going."

"I've noticed that about you;
and I think you might be
missing out on something important."

"And what might that be?"

"Your life is lived as if
arrival is your purpose,
and as if you must
find your way toward me.
Life is really about journey;
about paying attention
to the people traveling
with you and being present
to and in each moment.

One more thing:
I am the dance."

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

 


Born on Third

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Photo by Hannah McCulloch

Here’s a throwback from June of 2013 that still seems quite relevant.

(Living the American Dream)

I must have hit a triple,
'cause here I am on third.
Of course I wasn't born here;
that whole idea's absurd!

   Daddy is the umpire,
   mama cooks the books;
   but isn't that the way
   everybody's life looks?

      It's true what they say,
      "It's lonely at the top."
      When all your views are down,
      it's really hard to stop.

   I've got more stuff than friends;
   that doesn't really matter.
   It's hard to let your guard down
   when your wallet's getting fatter.

One day I'm going to slow down
and be that kind of guy
people want to hang with;
for now I'm kind of shy.

   I worry what they're thinking
   about the things I say,
   and whether they will judge me
   or try to take my pay.

      It's hard to feel normal
      when you're such a special guy.
      I do my best to fake it;
      I'm usually pretty sly.

   Tried ordinary once
   but then I got burned.
   No one would acknowledge
   the luxuries I'd earned.

It's nice here on third;
I'm such a go-getter.
When I steal home,
it'll be even better!

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

 


Quid Pro Quo

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In a culture lacking
  deepened faith,
    love is merely quid pro quo,
  with every transaction
measured and recorded.

This is the world
  of anxiety, fear, and scarcity;
    a confused world, thirsty
    for intimacy without shame,
  and hungry to know and
be known without judgment.

Only when we learn how
  to sit still and silent
    with ourselves, will we be able
  to recognize the rhythmic beat
    of unconditional love and
  the abundant pool of grace
in which we float.

Give us courage, O Lord,
  to set aside all infatuation
    built on "because"
  and let the richness
    of mercy grounded
  in "even though"
be our daily companion.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins