Respecting the awesome power of words!

grief

Dry Sockets

IMG_7537Photo by Dan Tice

 

When the tears don’t fall,
yet you feel their weight inside,
pressing like the weight
of additional atmospheres,
yearning to find
the equilibrium of release,
I wonder if they’ll create
an alternate route of escape.

Might they rise
through the vocal chords,
their savory blend
evoking tender words
of compassion for others
who are hurting?

Could they escape
through fingertips,
forming stories of hope
and courage for those
on and beyond the margins?

What if they caused muscles
and ingredients to merge,
so that comfort food
was prepared and shared
with people neck-deep
in their own grief?

Where else have you
felt them leaking grace
into the world?

© 2018 Todd Jenkins
Advertisements

Prostrate Psalm

26

 

Here we lay, prostrate —
  not because it’s our choice —
  but because the kick
    in the gut
    of this teenager’s suicide
    has knee-capped
    our expectations of reality,
  and our dreams
  of how it’s supposed to be.

Cower, with our lips
  in the dirt,
  or crane our necks
    toward starless heavens,
    seem to be our only options.

If it’s all the same with you,
  O one whose claims
  to fame include
    the entirety
    of the cosmos’s creation,
    I think we’ll grovel
    for a while,
    grinding our teeth
    against the grit
  of what might have been —
  what could have been.

After our molars
  have been worn down,
  long in the tooth on grief,
    when we once again
    find the emotional wherewithal
  to turn our spirits
  toward the heavens,

we pray you’ll hold us
  in your strong but tender palm,
  opening to us
    the vast universe of hope,
    undergirding us
  with the fabric of love,
  washing our tear-stained cheeks
  from the fountain of grace.

If you won’t do that,
  don’t bother to attempt
  anything else.

Selah.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Unfolding

IMG_6595

Photo by Gay Jenkins Howell

 

    We cast our prayers,
    O God, toward
    the bank of the river
    that seems most solid,
    most under control;

   and then earth shakes,
   and water surges,
   swirling us toward
   unstable stacks
   of unknowns
   and uncontrollables.

  Give us courage
  to float toward
  whatever happens,
  confident in your
  in-the-flesh promise
  to be present
  to and with us
  no matter what unfolds.

 These, and all prayers,
 we offer in the name
 of God-with-skin-on,
 Jesus, the Christ. Amen.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins


Blood Money

WKhrG38hSZSeqMaZNMqAEg

 

Money, money, money,
money; money!

At some point
it becomes blood.

You don’t get
to decide
when and where.

That’s a weight borne
by those who pay
for the cemetery plots,
caskets, and embalming.

If you decide
to attend a visitation,
don’t you dare attempt
to excuse yourself
with either a disclaimer
or the cliches
of infotainment.

All you get to do
is listen and feel;
hear the wailing laments,
and sense the rage,
anguish, and grief.

Let death’s pallor
wash over you.
Take it all in
and then
take it home
and sit with it.

When it has run
its course
through your innards,
then you’ll be
allowed to speak,
to act, to enact.

For God’s sake,
find the chutzpah
to act!

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Santa Fe

fullsizeoutput_1a79

      Words, words, 
   more words; 
and for what? 

      Bodies, bodies, 
   more bodies; 
and for what? 

            Bow to the 2nd, 
         blame it 
      on mental illness, 
   and brace yourself 
for the next one. 

         What will you say 
      to the grieving; 
   parents, friends, 
relatives, siblings? 

   Keep your thoughts 
and prayers to yourself. 

            Come back 
         when you’re ready 
      to DO something; 
   not something symbolic,
something substantive. 

         Until then, 
      stay home, 
   stay off the air, 
just stay. 

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Three Days

IMG_7142

 

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

pl%fuOypSuiYD36KBwCJRQ

 

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

 


Fragmented

IMG_4208Photo by Lee Lindsey McKinney

 

   I grew up mostly with
   a staunchly convinced
   intellectual faith
   until the day an inability
   to wrap my brain around
   the death of my mother
   cracked my hard head
   into fragments.

  My heart caught all the pieces,
  as they tumbled down,
  and tenderly held them
  until they could be reassembled.

 Now, I spend my days sharing
 stories of crumbled dreams
 that have been resurrected
 into pictures of hope;
 images we never
 could have fathomed
 with our solidified minds
 and plans alone.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Follow Me

zfollowme

 

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

Blood Ash

26

 

I didn’t want to say
the words this year.

“You are dust, and
to dust you shall return.”
kept asking
to be transposed
with something more honest,
like, “You were
in high school this morning,
future slowly unfolding;
but now your blood
is pooled on the ground,
your organs motionless,
your body lifeless,
your family screaming
a caustic cocktail
of rage and grief,
cameras intruding
like uninhibited perverts.”

How dare we regurgitate
a vacuous litany
propped up on
flimsy thoughts and prayers!

If we can’t be honest,
and say we’re not willing
to change anything
to slow the parade
of body bags,
then we need
to just keep our
damn mouths shut,
hunkered down
behind the walls
of our callous indifference.

Who will compose
a liturgy of lament?

Who will sit in this bend
of hell’s river,
sieve net in hand,
scooping the shrapnel-torn fragments
of hope as they drift
toward the abyss?

Answer me!

© 2018 Todd Jenkins