Respecting the awesome power of words!

formation

Whataboutism

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Lord, deliver us
from whataboutism
in all its forms,
both used for or against
the ideas/people safely ensconced
within the parameters
of our confirmation bias.

  Dare us, as humans
  on this journey together,
  to neither deflect
  from the present
  nor shirk responsibility
  for the past.

    Instead, we pray,
    give us courage
    and fortitude
    to do the right thing
    now, and do it next,
    again and again,

    without the need
    to point toward
    another person, place,
    and time
    where fear, hatred,
    and ignorance prevailed,
    as if that were, somehow,
    an excuse for
    serial repetition
    of the same, similar,
    or a counterbalancing stupidity.

  Help us, O holy one,
  to find our footing
  on the Grace Highway,
  somewhere in the broad lane
  between the conviction
  of history’s blindness
  and the overflowing fountain
  of divine mercy.

Give us, O God,
compassionate strength
and peace in our marrow
to plumb the depths
of our connected condition,
that we may climb,
together,
toward a road higher
and more sacred
than the one on which
we currently find ourselves.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins
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Division

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I can’t remember
the exact year in school
when my teacher introduced
the concept of division.

I do remember, however,
that it was always about things —
apples, cookies, toys —
and never about people;

a mathematical tool
for equally parceling out
specific things:

Your mom cooked 72 Halloween cookies
for you to share at school.
You have 24 students
in your class.
How many cookies
should each student receive?

There was never a word problem
that required dividing people;
never a question like:

Of the 24 students in your class,
18 are from Christian families
whose parents were born
in the USA,
and whose racial identity is white.
The remainder are
of other religions,
and/or were born of foreign citizens,
and/or are of another ethnicity.
Of what fraction/percentage
of your classmates
should you be afraid?

Nope.
I never learned to divide people.

In fact, my faith guides me
to add them:

You shall not wrong or oppress
a resident alien,
for you were aliens
in the land of Egypt.
You shall not abuse
any widow or orphan.
(Exodus 22:21-22)

“Which of these three,
do you think,
was a neighbor to the man
who fell into the hands
of the robbers?”
He said, “The one
who showed him mercy.”
Jesus said to him,
“Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:36-37)

... you shall love
the Lord your God
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your mind,
and with all your strength.’
The second is this,
‘You shall love your neighbor
as yourself.’
There is no other commandment
greater than these.”
(Mark 12:30-31)

This is God’s people-math.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Such as These

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(Matthew 19:14) but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”

The other day,
  I watched a video
    of our newborn grandson.
      His eyes seemed
    to be blinking me
  a message in his own
kind of code:

“When newborns are given
  a healthful blend
    of divinely inspired
      safety and freedom,
    we offer the world
  another chance to understand
our life’s purpose.

Our spontaneous naps
  are purest centering prayer,
    tethering us securely
  to the original source
of our spiritual DNA;

our awakenings,
  unadulterated anticipation
of the sacred and ecstatic.

We perceive the world
  by smell, sight, taste,
    touch, and sound;
      content, for now, to utter
    nothing more
  than dove-like coos
in guileless response.

Through the rhythmic cycle
  of our days and nights,
    we mirror unfiltered engagement
  with the full range
of our emotions:

deep tears
  of discomfort and anxiety,
  rich laughter
of hope and delight;

all the while refusing
  to blame others for our pain,
    yet ever-ready
  to accept their support
when it’s offered.

If you want to experience
  childlike faith: laugh, cry,
  rest, observe in awe,
wonder, accept help.”


“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”(Matthew 11:28-30)

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


The Message

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(Ode to Eugene)

I saw and heard you, 
years ago, in Chicago. 

You’re among a handful 
of folks, including 
Buechner, Brueggemann, 
Duck and Tirabassi, Harris, 
whose deeply grounded 
creative tether shined a light 
into the cave of imagination 
and allegory, inviting, 
if not pulling me toward 
a rich heritage far beyond 
the shadowed puppets 
of my youth. 

You were among those 
who gave me courage 
and hope 
to unleash the muse -- 
Calliope, as she has self-identified --  
into this particular place 
and time. 

Horatio extends the summons, 
“Goodnight sweet prince, 
and flights of angels 
sing thee to thy rest.”

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Feels

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      What would it look
    and feel like to have
  the "Not Jesus"
loved out of you;

      to be daily pieced together
    with such tenderness
   that grace
  was deep within you,
holding your broken pieces together;

      AND also freely flowing
   onto and into
everyone you encounter?

      These feels
     are what I hope
    and dream about
   breathing, speaking,
   and living into
  the place and time
that are my earthly sojourn.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Journey

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As mountains stretch
  across the horizon,
    so hope, anchored
    to all points of eternity,
  marks the path behind,
beneath, and before us.

We walk our faith,
  step by step,
    across unexplored terrain,
      wounded by the trail
      and those along it
    as much as
    by our own sabotage,
  suffering our way
toward tomorrow.

And yet, in the pain itself,
  we find a path toward,
  not only healing,
but even wholeness;

not as if wounds themselves
  are necessary conduits
    for passage down Martyr AVE,
      but because scars keep us near
      to deeply plowed earth,
    our toes curled down
  to maintain balance
through the storms.

Hope is a memory of tomorrow,
  grown from a seed named Grace.
Joy is the other side of sorrow,
  with us in each time and place.

One foot in front of another,
  lean toward the future today.
Anticipation your druther,
  let journey show you the way.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Breathing from the Bottom

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Principles can sometimes
become a rock
for when we cannot stomach
the fluidity and uncertainty
of relationships.

Unfortunately,
they have a tendency
to become millstones,
ridden as high horse,
all the way
to the bottom of the sea,
Titanic-like, demonstrating,
over and over,

that all the rules
we make and adore
run out of oxygen,

and the only way
to breathe as we rise
from the bottom
is to resolve
that love become
our ultimate guide.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Held

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Part of the mystery
of faith is that
it refuses to be squeezed
into the box
of our or anyone else’s
comfort, desires,
or understanding.

It contains the paradox
of simplicity and infinity.

It is both easier
and healthier
to be held by it
than to attempt
to hold it;

open hands,
open hearts,
open eyes,
open minds,
open ears,
open dreams.

Open.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Plowed Deep

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Education is a long-haul plow
  set deep and pulled meticulously
    through many fields,

some scattered thick with rocks,
  some rich with earthy humus,

some as thin and stripped
  as shed snake skin,

all tended equally
  with the care of one
    who dreams
      of bumper crops
        in every silo.

Despite what modernity proclaims,
  the shallow seeds it plants
  in multiple-choice gardens —

like quickly sprouting grass
  in measured rows
    of paper cups
      lining the window sill —

            are insignificant when held
            against the space it creates
         for other roots to one day plunge
            toward the aquifer of love
             in search of nourishment
                  for the flower
             of peaceful coexistence,
                  and the fruit
          of shared respect and dignity.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

GEM

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        He said, “God is
        a Good Enough Mother.”
        Then he ‘splained:

      A GEM gives birth to you,
      nurtures you, protects you,
      and makes you the center
      of her universe until
      you start learning how
      to take care of yourself.

    This begins somewhere
    between the ages of 2 and 3. 
    This is where a GEM’s focus
    and methods change.

  Now, she must help you see
  that you are NOT the center
  of ANY universe, but you are
  connected to other people
  and all of creation,
  and she teaches you
  that you exist to care
  for the world and ALL its people;
  that you will find existential meaning
  in becoming a nurturer, yourself;

that making other people’s lives better
will bring you far greater joy
than using them to make
your life easier, more comfortable,
and more secure;

that you will more fully
comprehend love
when you can both
voluntarily give yourself
for others and allow yourself,
in vulnerability, to be helped,
not by those you coerce,
but by those
who choose to help you.

  If we’ve never made it past
  believing we are
  the center of the universe,
  we cannot stomach anyone
  who won’t go to any length
  to make us look and feel divine.

    We are still holed-up in Eden,
    munching the hell out of
    the fruit of the tree
    of the knowledge of good and evil,
    completely ignoring the reality
    in front of our faces,
    and firmly convinced
    that the serpent was right —
    consuming this fruit
    has made us gods!

      We’ll half-heartedly inhabit lives
      of noisy desperation, stumbling
      from one litigation to another,
      never having the courage
      to admit we ever
      did anything wrong.

        As long as we’re never made
        to see our connection
        to the rest of the universe,
        we’ll continue to rewrite reality
        to fit our own needs.

      We need to cultivate a lot more
      GoodEnough Mothers
      who’ll help us realize
      the universe doesn’t spin
      on our axis.

          We have enough serpents;
          too many, even.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins