Respecting the awesome power of words!

courage

Control

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    We crave it,
  whether we admit it
or not;

      especially when
    we’ve lost it
  for too much
of our lives.

          Love is about
        risking the relinquishment of it
      to someone we hope
    will set aside self
  long enough to unlock
the mystery of relationship

        in ways that allow us
      to rise above
    self-condemnation
  toward the mysterious
whisper of grace.

    Once this feline’s murmur
  has been unleashed,
all bets are off.

    This is the only neighborhood
  in which we can learn
to relax and let go.

      We pray, O Lord,
    to find even
  a small place available;
a fixer-upper will do;

        where we can begin
      the gentle task
    of allowing ourselves
  to be rehabilitated
by grace and forgiveness,

      into a dwelling capable
    of reflecting light
  into the dark corners
of both self and others.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 

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Wall

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Into a salty sea,
precisely mitered
and mortared blocks
dutifully extend the tail
of their serpentine behemoth,

its harsh rigidity
under gentle
but continuous assault
by the shape-shifting swirl
of the moon-pulled tide.

Day in and day out,
the lunar dance’s fluidity
wears the beast down.

Whatever barrier
was once intended,
ocean will emerge victorious,
not so much
to destroy the wall
as to open the door.

“Behold, I stand
at the door
and knock...”
(Revelation 3:20)

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Breathless

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     He goes to the meeting
     like it’s any other meeting,
   because he’s the one
   who’s supposed to be in charge,
maybe even the one to whom
some people look for answers.

     He knows he has to tell them,
   and he has to do it quickly,
but he doesn’t know how.

     So he opens the meeting with a story;
   not the once-upon-a-time kind,
but a story nonetheless.

     Using third person pronouns,
he distances himself from reality.

     It’s a painful story about a family
     who looks, on the outside,
   like they have it all together;
   but, inside the walls,
things are crumbling
more than anyone else knows.

     A teenage child has drifted away,
     raging on the inside,
   yet also indicating
a willingness to end it all.

     Having been in a lockdown
     adolescent psych unit
     for therapeutic intervention
   for several days now,
   tonight is the first time
   their child will have the privilege
to call home;
but there’s no guarantee.

It’s up to the child.

     For the story’s painfully
     twisted ending, he says,
   “This is a story about me.
   I am going home
   to be with my wife
and sit by the phone,
hoping it will ring.”

     He gets up and walks out,
   feeling as if
   he’s fighting his way
out of a vacuum,
gasping for breath.

     That’s the day a church  
   became acutely aware
   of its need to minister
to its pastor and his family.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Race

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    It's really just a contest
    to see who can arrive faster
    or with more support;

  so when we shoehorn it
  into biology, we're often
  escalating the competition,
  by declaring superiority
  of one group over another.

Suffixing imaginary genetic match
with "ism" isn't always about
old fashioned hate spewed
in the light of day.

  Sometimes it's much more subtle:
  an unspoken framework
  for socioeconomic and cultural mores
  tilting everything in favor
  of predetermined medalists.

    We don't have to ask for it
    or even recognize it
    to be complicit.

  All we have to do
  is deny or ignore it.

It will march on,
grinding unchosen ones
into dust, while anesthetizing
the rest to seductive
and powerful privilege.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

“Free Ears”

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      That’s the sign
     I’m going to hand-letter
    on poster board
   and hang across
  the front of a card table
 near a busy
pedestrian intersection.

Perched behind
 the advertisement,
  I’ll offer an empty chair
    for passersby,
      leaning-in as they
       take a load off,
        giving their stories
         a roost to call home.

   What tale
  would you spin,
 right there in front
of God and everybody?

I might tell
 of the gut-punch
  that overwhelmed me when,
   over a six-week eternity,
    my mom permanently crossed
     from full physical function
      to forever flatlined;

how I lay awake nights,
 bouncing between
  trying to wake up
   from the nightmare,
    and silently plea-bargaining
     with nothing but
      my own life
       and confession as leverage.

      I used to think
     that telling it
    to anyone who’d listen,
  over and over,
 could somehow
change the story.

Then one day
 I realized that I
  was the one changed
   in its telling.

  You don’t have
 to wait for the sign, table,
and chairs to appear.

I keep my free ears
 with me most of the time.

What about you?

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Cell Whispering

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There is but
one great conspiracy.

Its name is Love.

In the end, if not
in the beginning,
or at least somewhere
in the middle,
we will all find
that it is true;

at least all of us
who dare to risk
who we’ve been
told to be,
for the chance
to become who the cells
in our deep-marrows
keep whispering
that we’re meant to be;

Yes; true.
More true than anything
past, present, or future.

When we do,
our world will never
be the same.

If we are courageous enough, 
our world never
being the same
will also make
THE world never
be the same.

Let it begin and continue
with me, with us;
now.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Bam!

IMG_3734Photo by Owen Todd Jenkins

 

Our culture of violence didn’t appear
like 4th of July fireworks,
bursting on the scene in technicolor.

It was more like Virginia creeper,
slowly suctioning its way
up the facade of society,
one wall of war,
one generation of weapons,
one identified enemy at a time.

It thrived when lethal force was baptized
as the answer to differences,
legitimizing an economy freighted
on escalating weaponization.

Under the guise of order and law,
we not only sanctioned it,
we also sanitized it,
so that, in our eyes,
it was not gruesome,
but glorious.

Soon, it became the framework
for much of our entertainment.
We praised our children
for emulating it in their play;
we secretly desired to be its heroes.

The only time we notice it —
the only time we object —
is when the tables are turned,
and it’s used against us
by ones who perennially
feel its boot on their necks.

By then, it’s too late.

It courses through our veins,
a toxic cocktail of rage and blame,
embalming our souls
for useless photo-op preservation,
as if it’ll somehow matter
when they say,
with venom oozing
from sharply cornered sneers,
“But they look so nice,
so respectable!”

Lord, send legions
of your angels,
for we have dispensed
with most everyone else!

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Harmony

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    Grace is a haunting melody,
  if anything, and
the best that
  any of us can do
    is lay our stories
  within her measures
and dare to sing
  the narrative of our lives.

    Of course
  you’ll sing off-key.
We all do.

    And we’ll sing
  through the rests,
screeching like a
  testosterone-enraged
    tom-cat on the prowl,
  or a love-sick mother
wooing life-giving resources
  for her brood.

    But the day will come,
  not all at once,
and not when we notice
  or expect it,
    when it almost sounds
  as if we’re harmonizing,
even though
  we don’t know how.

    The voices of those
  nearest and dearest
will also begin to blend,
  as we learn to use ears
    more than mouths;
  navigating the hallway
between head and heart.

    Belt it, baby!
  The world is hungering
to hear your cover.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Risking All

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Faith is a journey
across time, space, and life;
a continual lesson
that challenges us
to move from holding on
to letting go,
from the desperate air-clutch
of free-falling
to the peace and comfort
of being held.

It questions our assumptions
and the validity of our fears.

In a culture of consumption,
acquisition, and storage,
it dares us to experience
the transformative grace
of productivity, distribution,
and restoration.

It asks us to risk acting
with God’s generosity
in a world that refuses
to believe that anyone
cares about or knows us
any more or better
than we do ourselves.

It is in these selfless moments
and acts
that we catch joy-filled glimpses
of our true nature.

Faith is the gift
for which we are created,
the purpose of our existence,
the primal mystery
for which our deepest memory longs.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Full Flow

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Greed is total surrender
to the fear that,
despite today’s sufficiency,
tomorrow will leave us resourceless;
and therefore,
too much is never enough.

It’s a frenetic piling-on
creating utter breathlessness.

We are (meaning “I am,
and I invite you
to confess your complicity.”)
slow to recognize
that the ability
to tightly hold things
with our tiny hands and
the small part
of our mind and soul
that value such grasping,
is the greatest impediment
to accepting all that for which
God has created us.

Hope is the antidote,
as holy respiration,
allowing us to breathe
deeply and slowly,
palms upturned and open,
so that more of who we’re
meant to be can settle on us,
even wash over us.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins