Respecting the awesome power of words!

Archive for January, 2017

ing

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In consideration
of hatred, fear,
xenophobia, and division
for personal or political gain,
it's easy to sit back
and speculate, "What
would you do?"

Once speculation has
not only left the station,
but also disembarked
from multiple platforms,
the only question
worth asking is,
"What AM I DOING?"

Present participles are
the only engines
worth putting on this track.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

For These Times

Prayers of the People for January 29, 2017.

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Photo by Lizzie Mazariegos

We live, O God,
 in a fearful and divided culture;
  separated, not just
   from other faiths and nations,
    but also from the people
     who live in our neighborhoods,
     work with us,
    go to school with us,
   and even from some of the ones
  with whom we break bread
on a regular basis.

Our faith's rich tradition
 calls us away
  from such anxiety and estrangement,
   reminding us that we are
    all in this together;
     and contrary to Cain's
   distancing of himself
  from Abel's buried body,
 we ARE our neighbors' keeper, 
in neighborhoods without borders.

We pray, O Lord,
 for guidance and wisdom,
  as we navigate our personal,
 community, state,
and national roadmaps.

Show us the narrow
 highway of love,
  even as it winds through
 the challenging mountains
of relationship, listening, and sacrifice.

Give us feathers on our skin,
 bones hollow yet strong,
  courage of the clouds,
   so we won't be pulled long
   earthward by gravity's fear,
  but freed instead to float
 on rising currents of hope,
higher into grace's atmosphere. 

If only it were so easy,
 O God, like poetry rolling
  off our tongues,
 whisking us to happily ever after;
but we know better.

Our lives bear the bruises
 of broken hearts;
 our families carry the scars
of shattered dreams.

Give us this day,
 O storytelling dream-catcher,
 both tenacity and tenderness
for the living of these days.

Give us the gifts we need
 to open the doors of welcome
  to a world hungry and thirsty
 to know that your story
is also their story.

These and all prayers
 we ask in the name
  of the one who fed, healed,
  and welcomed the broken
 to a table of abundance;
Jesus, the Christ. Amen.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


Faithquake

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     Gone are the days
    when the sanctuary and
   classrooms under the steeple
  are the only venues open
 for the meeting
of the Sunday Civic Club.

       If the church is going
      to survive, we'll have
     to get serious about
    practicing our faith
   and cultivating a life
  of spiritual depth
and awareness.

      The struggle lies
     in the reality that many
    other weekend options 
   are capable of meeting
  the cursory expectations
 for which we've allowed
ourselves to settle.

   Some believe earthquakes
  can be a sign
 that God is at work.
“What’s shaking, folks?”

   That’s how God moves us
  toward new things.
 Why? Maybe it’s because
we are prone to digging in.

   As the earth shakes,
  we are being swallowed.
 Can we be raised
from the empty tomb?

 Will we?
#faithquake

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


Rise

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When Hope's balloon
  is being deflated
    on purpose, by those
    who can't or won't dare
  to dream, but only traffic
in nightmares of fear,

and the long ribbon that
  allowed it to stretch heavenward
    enough for all the world
    to see has begun to resemble
  a motionless, coiled
snake upon the ground,

it is up to Don Quixotes
  in our midst to inhale
    the escaping helium,
      at risk of life itself,
      and laugh – no, cackle –
    in the face of sneer-mongers,
  drawing our desperate selves
toward the candle of our courage,

as we sit 'round the flickering flame,
  watching it push back the night,
    while tales of quiet inspiration
    waft skyward like wisps
  of smoke, each one another sign
of our collective indomitability.

We shall rise.
  Yes, we shall rise,
  because the carbonized embers
of our lives can do no other.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Stop

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I've never known a leader
who expects to be taken
seriously, but not literally;

someone who repeatedly
begs me to believe and
trust him, while the words
coming from his mouth
are hyperbolic at best and
blatant fantasies at worst.

Usually, the only people
who desire to match
this description are poets and
authors of children's books;

those who dare us
to aspire to more, by painting
word-images that pull us
toward a vision of grace.

The key ingredient
missing here, in
this time and place,
however, is hope.
It is wholly AWOL.

Without it, my imagination
is being pulled into
a vortex of fear.

This is not a story
I want to read,
much less live.

Stop the book,
I want to get out.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Heirloom

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Privilege is not always
a purposefully chosen perch.

Sometimes, it is
an heirloom pair
of platform shoes,
handed down from
generation to generation;

so comfortably ingrained
in our lives that we begin
to believe the reason
our view is head and shoulders
above the rest is because
we were born this tall.

Make sure your mirror
is floor-length, fully revealing
all dimensions and spectrums.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

All We Can Do

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Photo by Lee Lindsey McKinney

When the time
for doing ends,
both daily and
at the end-end,

all we can do
is slow down;

slow down and
gaze into the night sky;

gaze into the night sky
and listen to the sound
of silence;

listen to the sound
of silence and wonder;

wonder and hope;
hope and pray;

pray and let go.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Combustion

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Hate’s the smoldering ember
beneath a veneer
of separation, self-perceived
unworthiness, and fear.

Denied or unexamined,
its uncovering combusts
all oxygen in the room,
consuming the very ones
whose otherness holds the key
to extinguishing its rage.

Once its flames are
out in the open,
none but the soaked-in-hope
can get close enough
to spread the blanket of mercy.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Anger River

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Old Stone Fort (Manchester, TN)

Anger River is sourced
from three primary tributaries:
plans gone awry,
predictability thrown out the window,
and control dismantled.

It doesn't matter whether
these creeks flow
through the mirror or
the magnifying glass,
the outcome is the same:

a raging torrent sweeping away
all hope of mercy, forgiveness,
and especially, love.

Sometimes, you just need
to struggle to the shore,
sit in the sun until
your clothes are dry,
and choose to wade
into another creek.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Let Me

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"They will come."
the familiar story tells us.
First, for those
who are different than we,

those who are tekel –
measured by power and
control and found wanting,
to misconstrue the handwriting
Daniel read on the wall (5:27).

And when they come,
it will be time for us to act,
to stand, to speak –
to at least whisper or sing.

It will need to be more than,
"Ain't gonna study war no more..."
'cause war has already been studied –
been aced and PhD’d – by far too many.

Our song will need
to be – have to be –

"Let me introduce you
to my sister, my brother.
Let me show you how
we’re really not so other.

Let me hold your privilege/power
while you sit and have
a cup of tea with us.
Let me teach you a song
about what it’s like
to be with us.

Let me tell you a story
‘bout a kindom built on love,
mortared with grace.
Let me show you photographs
of our children, of our family,
of our homeplace.

Let me... let me..."

© 2017 Todd Jenkins