Respecting the awesome power of words!

courage

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

 

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One Foot

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Shadows cast themselves
across the path,
entirely convinced
they are chains,
if not barbed wire,
fully capable
of strangling all movement
in any direction.

But I, vessel
of light and dark,
fire and ice,
have burst
across their boundaries
time and again,
brimming with hope
in a sea of despair,

not because
of who I am,
but because
of what love’s done;
not because
of what I’ve done,
but because
of who grace is.

Let us,
both you and I,
break into
an all-out sprint,
flinging ourselves across
these penumbral barriers
like Olympians
at the finish line,
leaning into
and breaking the tape
of victory’s wreath.

This is the courage
by which we 
who’ve plumbed
the depths of despair
keep putting one foot
in front of the other,

because our deeps
keep telling us
there’s not only light
beyond the valley
of the shadow of darkness,
but life
in its richest manifestation.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Wild Words

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When language is also open
    to emotion, as opposed
    to intellect alone,
    it is less controllable,
    and thus threatening
to the status quo.

Feelings, and words infused
    with their energy, can be
volatile change-agents.

I suspect that poetry,
    with its clandestine double entendre
    and metaphorical open-endedness,
    rests near the limit
    of our privileged ability to hear,
    without being shocked
into shut-down.

Narrative preaching,
    in its often-predictable 
    fairy-tale-ness,
    is good for the business
of the stock-market classes.

One of the few challenges
    to that is parable,
    which Jesus either
    used a whole lot,
    or it was about the only thing
    that survived generations
    of oral transmission and memory
between Golgotha and the gospels.

Even the remembrance
    of Jesus’ parables rarely,
    if ever, includes 
    the Nathan-to-David
    prophetic table-turn of,
“You’re the man!”

Security, prosperity,
    and social dominance
    are mammon
    of crack-cocaine allure,
    depriving those addicted —
    both speaker and listeners —
    of the essential gift
of life-giving manna.

Their anesthesia-like qualities
    stand guard at the door,
    duct-taping emotion’s mouth
before it ever leaves the heart.

“Big boys don’t cry.”
    the guards say, and,
    “Frozenness is a sign
    of chosenness.”
    as well as,
    “He who controls his feelings,
    and thus his words,
controls the world.”

And then the poet
    bursts upon the scene,
    or maybe just scribbles a few stanzas
    on a sea of blank space,
    threatening to unleash
    a marrow-deep flood
of soul-wrenching response.

Lord, in your mercy,
uncork our hearts.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Have

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Dr. King said,
“I HAVE a dream...”
It was a present tense
reality for him.

It’s quite evident that
the doing hasn’t
yet caught up
with the dreaming.

I’m even concerned
about the dreaming,
at this point.

Have we let that dream
become past tense;
one that WAS HAD?

Or are we still willing
to carry it forward,
in the present tense,
and even into the future?

Unless the dream
is kept alive —
in the HAVE tense —
the doing will wither
on the vine.

Will you keep
dreaming it with me?
Will you also
be a doer with me?

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Three Days

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Or is it forever?

Since creation’s dawning,
dirt — humus —
has absorbed whatever liquid
gravity pulls toward earth’s core.

Grief trickling from all eyes;
brow-sweat of every effort;
life-source of each animal;
all soaked into the soil
as thirsty sponge
drawing all toward the center.

Gethsemane could be
no exception.

Anxiety of relational rending;
exertion of mortal desire;
arterial drip of ethereal hope;
all lay the groundwork
for betrayal, struggle,
and surrender.

Then there followed
three days of hell.

They stare at the ground,
waiting for creation
to happen all over again;

all senses and emotions
begging for dirt to be shaped
and breathed into once more;
afraid that it won’t,
yet scared to death that it will;

and the trinity of human desire
saturates the ground
over and over and over again:
tears, sweat, and blood.

Luke 22:44
In his anguish 
he prayed more earnestly, 
and his sweat became 
like great drops of blood 
falling down on the ground.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Unholy Week

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The adventuresome among us
would like to take a zip line
from the Triumphal Entry,
or maybe even from all the way back
at the mount of Transfiguration,
to the empty tomb.

The more acrophobic among us
would prefer an enclosed cable car
for the quick and easy journey.

But there is no such shortcut.

Lent is a journey we make,
year after year, not because
it’s fun or enjoyable,
or even because we want to,
but because we understand
that it’s the only way;

the only way to find ourselves
on the far side of crucifixion,
in the garden, staring
at the rolled-away stone
and the empty tomb,
incredulous as much because
of Jesus’ resurrection as because
we’ve been forgiven and freed.

Lent is the place where we go
to die, because we feel,
deep in our innards,
that dying is the only path
to being raised to new life.

Lent is the place and the time
when we prepare ourselves
to admit that we are not only
among the Unholy Week palm-wavers
shouting, “Ho-she-annah!
Save us NOW!”
but also among the angry crowd
shouting, “Crucify him!”

Lent is the journey.
Holy Week is upon us.
Now is the time.
Let us dare to claim
its courage.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Where the Heart Is

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You can never step
 into the same river twice.

Neither the you
who is stepping
nor the water that's flowing
are the same as at
any time before or after.

Time, it’s been said,
stops for no one,
“an ever rolling stream”
bearing all of us
toward eternity.

Home is just such a river,
which is not to say,
that once you leave,
you can't go back;

just a reminder
that life's flow
makes both of you
different than you once were.

Go home anyway.

No matter how long
it’s been, both you
and home need to visit
one another again;

for such are the ways
by which the universe
is regularly reordered.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Anyone

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And a voice thundered
from the clouds —
or was it a whisper in the dark —
or maybe both,

     “I love you, 
     each and every one of you, 
     so much that I refuse 
     to let anything 
     stand between us. 

    Even if you are so disbelieving 
    of this love and so afraid 
    of its unconditionality 

   that you kill the very flesh 
   of mine that I sent 
   to reveal it, 

  I will not give up on you, 
  but will keep pouring grace 
  like an everflowing stream. 

 It will flow through, around, 
 and into every crevice 
 of your life, whether 
 you’re paying attention or not, 
 until one day, you finally 
 give up on all the lesser gods 
 of competition, comparison, 
 amassing, distancing, 
 fortressing, and separation.”

“This is how much God loved the world: 
He gave his Son, his one and only Son. 
And this is why: so that no one 
need be destroyed; 
by believing in him, 
anyone can have 
a whole and lasting life.”
John 3:16 (MSG)

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Get Thee Behind Me, G!

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“Jesus is bringing in 
another kingdom!” 
he declared.

“What kind of kingdom?” 
I wondered.

“A fierce, brutal kingdom!” 

“Hmmm.” I said.
“We’ve already had 
a bate of those monarchies. 
They’re a dime a dozen, 
piled high with carnage 
and destruction, 
toppled and reinvented 
like an unstoppable wave 
of serial monogamists. 
What if Jesus had something 
altogether different in mind?”

“Like what?” he asked,
his voice dripping
with doubt and suspicion.

When they heard
that he taught
as one with authority,
the generals and the politicians
and the landed gentry
and a few other wannabes
who were skilled
at masquerading
came to see him.

“We have come 
to do your bidding, Jesus. 
Your word is our command. 
Speak and we will marshal 
our troops and resources 
on your behalf.” 

His voice was unmistakably
firm and unyielding,
“I have come to proclaim 
a new way of being; 
a community where the tools 
you have come to treasure 
will be exposed 
as impotent and irrelevant; 
a neighborhood 
where connection reigns supreme.” 

“But, rabbi,” 
they chimed in chorus,
“we have all this might 
and power to wield 
on behalf of your kingdom!” 

“Get thee behind me, G! 
For I came to slice you 
from the middle 
of the violent concept 
of kingdom, 
and usher in God’s realm 
of kin-dom.” 

One by one,
with heads drooped
and shoulders stooped,
they slouched
toward their fortresses,
oblivious to the way
love was already
crumbling their walls.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Follow Me

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There is no cable-car
to whisk us from
the boothless peak
of Moses, Elijah, Jesus,
and the three disciples 
to a Cadbury confectioned
empty tomb;

no Platform 9 ¾  
into which
we can plunge headlong
and suddenly find ourselves
transported to peaceful bliss.

There is only Lenten exodus;
forty days,
that might as well be 40 years,
through which we slog,
breathless and arrhythmic,
trembling yet driven
by a force planted at birth.

Let our hope for Easter’s arrival
be more than a vacuous promise
from they-sayers,
or a mainline injection
from anesthetizers,
or a little more icing on the cake
from already-made-its,
or a fairy-tale rescue
from pie-in-the-skyers.

Let us dare to descend
from the mountain
with the transfigured
and enfleshed one
into the valleys of the shadow
of hell in real people’s lives —
including our own —
and risk whoever
we think we are and even
who we really are
for the sake
of other human beings.

Let us do it, not because
they look like us,
   think like us,
      vote like us,
         speak like us,
            live like us,
               or pray like us.

Let us do it because
we’re all created
in the image of God;

because risking ourselves
for one another
is what we’re here for;

because we feel,
in the deeps of our soul,
the kin-dom Jesus lived
and to which he gave birth.

Let us do it because
we know we must find ways
to keep ourselves
in this, together,
or we will find ourselves
out if it, apart.

The only path
that leads to resurrection
takes us through
the purple haze of pain,
leads us in
the dance of suffering,
nails us to the tree of unliving.

The empty tomb
cannot be reached
unless we dare
to bare ourselves
to rigor mortis’ relentless march,
before the rising sun
of grace’s throne.

Let us dare to descend
into the entombing pits
of the grief, pain,
and suffering
by which we are surrounded,
hoping against hope
that unconditional love
can and will easter us all.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins