Respecting the awesome power of words!

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No Pockets in a Shroud

IMG_5063Photo by Melinda Dukes

 

By the time
  your garb is a shroud,
    your final wardrobe,
      if not your final answer,
      the cargo pants,
    with all their
  treasure-holding capacity,
will be long gone.

Neither the gold bullion
  nor any other
    gaudy bling
  will have a resting place
in your great beyond.

The only thing
  you can fill
    are the pockets
  of hearts,
yours and others’.

Pour into them memories
of practicing the three
 most valuable gifts
of Life:

Loving
  Listening
Laughing

Invest in this trio
  every chance you get,
  and the whole world
 will benefit greatly.

You’re part
  of the whole world,
so you’ll also be richer.    

© 2018 Todd Jenkins
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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

 


Exorcism

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It seems to me that
  the evil of possessions —
    whether it be money, property,
    power, privilege, or something else — 
    is not that we own them,
    but that in the very act
  of our ownership,
two subliminal things happen:

(1) our ownership,
  when reflected
    in the public sphere,
  tends to generate a sense of scarcity,
rather than abundance; and

  (2) our possessions, then,
  become our possessors.

That is how the appearance
  of even one or two human creatures
    (Yeah, we have a way
    of dehumanizing them,
  don’t we?)
can trigger a full-scale anxiety attack.

That’s when our possessing possessions
  begin to whisper to us,
    “You know, we’re not unlimited,
    and if you start sharing us,
    before you know it,
    the tables will be flipped —
    you never know who’ll overturn them —
    and you’ll become
    the vile creature yourself;
  and you know no one will share
any of us with you, then.”

  Sneaky little twits, aren’t they?

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Objection

fullsizeoutput_78fFlat Creek Bottle Chapel (Flat Creek, TN)

 

Politics and Faith often function
  as competing claims
  for the same prize:
the soul of humanity.

You can no more baptize one
  in the name of the other
  with a light sprinkling of rhetoric
  than you can sweeten the ocean
with a few teaspoons of sugar. 

I'm not a professional student
  of the history
  of the USA's immigration policy,
  but the piecemeal agreements
  and policies that directly address
  and affect our neighbors
  to the south seem to be
  heavily weighted toward developing
and protecting corporate interests,

with little concern for how
  these economic realities impact
  the movement, safety,
  and cohesiveness
  of individual workers
and their families. 

We need less people
  piecing together and quoting
  scattered verses of scripture,
  and more people
  whose intellectual anchor is sunk
in our sacred texts' overarching theme.

God's historical predilection
  for all whose circumstances
  are void of power, voice,
  influence, and control is peppered
throughout scripture's narrative.

Until that imperative is given
  a legitimate seat
  at the policy table,
  and the economic practices
  that perpetuate our ballooning
  resource imbalance are up
  for honest discussion,
  human and family need
  will continue to be
unaddressed and unmet. 

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Prayer for the Holidays

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We pray, O God, for all those who enter the holiday season with a sense of overwhelming sadness: those whose sadness is brought on by heightened grief of the loss of a loved one; those who are sad because the holidays bring acute awareness of family or relational dysfunction or discord; those whose sadness comes from an inability to create the Norman Rockwell life that marketers and advertisers use to create a restless desire to purchase; those whose emotions are overcome by the incongruence of life in the first eleven months of the year, or the painful difference between the “haves” and the “have nots”; and those whose sadness comes from any other reason. Help us, O Lord, as your children, to be keenly aware and ready to open our ears and our hearts to those who are anything but happy for the holidays, through Jesus Christ our Lord…..

We pray, O God, for all those whose holidays will be consumed with the overwhelming task of rebuilding their homes and their lives: those whose neighborhoods have been ravaged by hurricane, flood, tornado, earthquake, tsunami, fire, or other disaster; those whose neighborhoods and lives have been turned to rubble by monster machinery of war. Help us, as your children, to have the grace to offer who we are and what we have been given to alleviate their suffering; through Jesus Christ our Lord…..

We pray, O God, for all those whose holidays will be consumed with worries about health and wellness, for themselves or someone near and dear: those whose holiday appetites will be diminished by chemotherapy; those whose holiday schedules will be filled with radiation, physical therapy, or booked for surgery; those whose glasses will be raised, not to toast, but to chase down handfulls of pills which they hope will extend the quality and/or quantity of their days. Help us, O Lord, as your children, to support, by your grace, all efforts at health and healing, through Jesus Christ our Lord…..

We pray, O God, for all those who are leaders, in our congregation, our community, our state, our nation, and in the world: those who make decisions about the direction of our congregation’s ministry and mission; those who direct funding, support, programs and protection for this city, this county, this state, this nation, and for all nations. Give us the courage to demand and support leaders who are willing to risk and sacrifice as much for peace and justice as we ask our military to risk and sacrifice in support of war; through Jesus Christ our Lord…..

In the midst of this Advent season, O Lord, give us unfailing hope through your unimaginable promise; give us unquenchable joy through your gift of deliverance; through Jesus Christ our Lord….

Now hear us, O God, as we join our hearts and voices together to pray the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, as we pray together….. Our father……

© 2017 Todd Jenkins


Reach

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Yesterday's festive sun-gazers
give little indication
of their recent glory,
as stooped and tired looking
as octogenarian day laborers
deprived of their pension.

We are all little more
than raisins in the sun,
as Mr. Hughes reminded us,
subject to so much pressure
from within, without;

fragile dreams escaping
into the night, or not,
whose purpose and connection
are surely, purely gift,
unless and until the bubble’s burst
by hate unleashed, and fear cursed.

Dream on; dream until
your dreams come true.
Shine, smile, stretch, reach,
as long as you’re rooted
in the garden of life,
if for no other reason
than someone else needs
to see you hope out loud.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

All in

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Pray with your mouth,
pray with your feet,
pray on the rooftop,
pray in the street.

Pray 'til the end,
pray from the start,
pray with your hands,
pray with your heart.

Pray with your money,
pray with your boat,
pray with your muscle,
pray with your vote.

Pray with your breathing,
pray with your mind,
pray with your stories,
pray with anything you find.

Pray out of the water,
pray out of the air,
wherever and whatever,
make sure it's all prayer.

Pray when you arrive,
pray while you're on the way;
with all your being and doing,
always and forever, pray.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Death-Defying

GJK 36Photo by Gay Jenkins Howell

The truth of Adam and Eve,
a friend told me, is
"A fig leaf is no substitute
for a therapist."

So much here to feast on;
so much here to run from;
so much here too real to face,
yet too close to reject.

Let us dare to live and breathe
in a naked now, O holy one,
not as tawdry exploitation
of bodies as objects,

but as death-defying risk
of abandonment to no less
and no more than our light-reflecting
and shadow-casting selves;

for the truth of creation's story
cannot be told
without such revealing.

Let both our poetry
and our prose
stand and fall
as blood-pumping gamble
of allowing the narrative
of who we are
to pulse out of
our own woundedness,

for it is in and from
our stories that we'll live
and die and be resurrected,
not just in the end,
but also in the breath
of their telling.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Beginning

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As finite beings immersed
in a three-dimensional chronology,
we know stories of the time
before we existed, we catch glimpses
of moments we're in, and
we are sometimes haunted
by the time when we will no longer be.

Mortality's question knocks regularly,
"When and how will I die?"

Instead of ruminating
on circumstances of our death,
what if we poured ourselves
into the questions of life?

*For whom will I have a chance
to breathe and speak love today?
*Where and when can I
reflect grace today?
*How can my modeling
of forgiveness tilt the world
toward hope today?

Answering these, and
questions like them,
will bring us to life
in the moment.

This is the promise
of resurrection
for and in the present.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


Enough

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To the person for whom
there's never enough,
there's always suspicion
others want your stuff.

The one who is
consumed with greed,
will never be touched
by hunger and need.

If comparison's the game
by which you thrive,
the train of joy
will never arrive.

Look at what you have,
instead of what's lacking;
it’s an important step
to send discontent packing.

Seeing the big picture
is a form of art
that fashions a glad
and generous heart.  

© 2017 Todd Jenkins