Respecting the awesome power of words!

healing

Smoldering

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Perhaps, love can be
broad and wide,
the way fields of wheat
slowly stretch across
the Midwest plain,
meting out their grain
as daily Eucharist.

But it can also be
deep and swift,
like a fierce river
cutting through a canyon,
washing us downstream
toward an ocean of delight.

It seems, for any given
person, place, and time,
we neither get
to choose the terrain
on which their love finds us,
nor when it takes flight,
winging toward tomorrow,
fragmented pieces
of our hearts in tow.

Ours is the task
of withstanding
the cavernous echo
of its passing,
cobbling together
a sense of hope
from the memories
and ashes of a flame
no longer burning.

Ours is also the call
to add the wood
of our own bones,
while we still can,
to the fires
of those around us,
in hopes
that our own embers
may somehow
help to kindle
others’ remembrances
of grace sufficient
for opening hands and eyes
to resurrection.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins
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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

Color Me Here

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Whatever choices you have
in your box of crayons;
whatever their condition —

worn down to a nubbin,
paper peeled and tattered,
broken in half —

take the one
whose hue reflects presence
and absorbs distance;

use it to fill in the spaces
between the lines
of the real-life drawing
that are me.

However that appears,
it’s who I want to be.

When words have
run their course,
for better or worse,
and nothing’s left
worth saying,

I’ll sit with you 
in the silence,
as we remember
what we can of yesterday,
as we struggle
to breathe through the weight
of today’s hurt,
as we hope our way
into tomorrow.

Yes, take that crayon
and color me here.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Against the Pall

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I have come to realize, more and more, that the core purpose and power of ministry is naming people’s angst and giving them permission to plumb the depths of their feelings. Otherwise, we have no escape route from the implosive culture of denial and anesthesia in which we reside.

It matters not
that this cycle
has rhythmically appeared
year after year,
the sun becoming
a short-timer
in our sphere.

  The weight of darkness
  bears down,
  like concrete blocks
  on our chests.

    Then comes
    the exponential factor
    of medical derailment;
    the return of one
    who was most unwelcome
    the first time around;

      now doubly so,
      as we have seen
      the physiological
      and emotional tsunami
      this cellular demon leaves
      in its wake.

    Enough, already,
    and more!

  Come holy pneuma,
  breathe your hope
  into our lungs,
  our bones,
  our very souls!

Inflate our lives
with your grace,
and Lazarus us
once more
with the fire
of your love!

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Revolution

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So often I have longed
 and looked for her
  to arrive on stately steed,
   impenetrable coat of mail,
    shield, sword, and spear
  to multiply the fear, 
 as I sit idly by, 
enjoying the show.

      When she appears,
     demurely standing beside
    all whose necks bear
   the boot print of power,
  all who’re on the menu,
 steadily waving
the flag of resistance,
 I look right past her,
  blinded by the irony
    of a privilege that’s unable
      to recognize anything but
       the love of power,
         impervious to
          the power of love.

Still, she refuses
 to throw me under the bus,
 declines to send me
to a seat in the rear.

   “Sing with us.” she invites.
  “The revolution will uproot
 fear and hatred,
not with looking glass’
 shield and retribution,
  but by the resonance
  of neighbor and
   the restoration of love.”

That's when the fire 
 in my bones is stoked, 
  and I can more clearly see 
    where my own words and actions 
  can add to the dismantling 
 of the leaning tower, and 
lay a foundation for hope.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Sing Our Faith

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Can we sing our faith;
let our instruments
accompany us along a journey
through the valleys
of pain, loss, and despair?

The beat and rhythm
of percussion and keyboard,
the synthesis of two hands
and their family of fingers
sliding and gliding
across the frets and strings,
pressing and plucking out
deep, heartfelt connections
to soulful gashes that refuse
to succumb to the grief
and chaos that have
crashed their way
into our bones and lives;

these are what give
power and energy to voices
wailing the dissonance
of our suffering,
their courageous tremolo and vibrato,
conjuring hope ex nihilo.

Without music’s smoldering fire,
creation’s dream of love
would surely be extinguished.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Let Go

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“Let go.” she said.
“It will help you
differentiate between what
you’re meant to hold,
and what’s weighing you down.”

“Let go?” I exclaimed!
“Are you kidding?
I’ve been holding on
my whole life; sometimes
by nothing more
than a thread,
but always squeezing
with every ounce of my being!”

“And what do you have
to show for that?”
came her jabbing reply.
“Tired hands?
A smaller circle?”

In the deepest places,
I knew she was right,
but I had been grasping
for so long
that I couldn’t imagine
not doing so.

Then, she pointed
to the trees.

“At the time when their foliage
is at its most glorious,
they let go,
watching their leaves
float to the ground,
withering and turning
into a rich humus
for future growth.”

As the muscles in my hands
groaned in relief,
I felt the beautifully colored leaves
of my life drifting toward
a holy compost pile.

Let go.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

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Dis-couraged

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My mind could not
    wrap around the unraveling
  of the plans I’d made,
so orderly and logical were they;

but far more than that,
    it was the way their unfolding,
  in my imagination,
  made me feel so majestic,
    so accomplished,
    so free, soaring above
  the daily fracas of life,
    the way an Amway sales pitch
  paints for you a Rockwellian portrait
  of contentment and success,
    not only in the end,
but even in the middle of it all.

It was as if
    a ginormous asteroid
    struck my world without warning;
  the cavernous crater left behind
bore the curse word, “cancer.”

She had so many years left,
    or was supposed to,
  and I had even more;
or did I?

I thought my heart had stopped.
    I knew it had broken
  into more fragile and jagged pieces
than I ever thought possible.

That was 1986,
    and here we are,
  32 years gone by;
  many twists and even
a few wrong turns.

If you had shaken
    your little snow globe back then,
    and shown me
  what’s around me now —
    who’s around me —
  I would have laughed out loud
  at the absurdity of it all,
    staring in disbelief
  until the last flake drifted
  through the heavy liquid
to the faux ground.

But here we are,
    aren’t we?
    You and I surrounded
  by a great cloud of witnesses;
  our hearts blessed, broken,
    poured out, over and over,
  forever being pulled
  toward someone else
    with whom the gathered fragments
can be shared.

Deuteronomy 31:8 It is the Lord 
who goes before you. 
He will be with you; 
he will not fail you 
or forsake you. 
Do not fear or be dismayed.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Breathe

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So many ways I can imagine
for you to find your way
out of this steep canyon
of grief;

the sun rising across
the mountains of pain,
or at least a waxing moon
reflecting hope across the valley
from a starlit sky;

memories of laughter
flashing across the screen,
interrupting your suffering
like bulletins from
an Emergency Broadcast System;

long-forgotten stories
of hope and love
retold and rekindled
at tables surrounded
by grace and comfort food;

mercy and forgiveness
floating through your dreams and
into your marrow like smoke
from a lazy campfire.

All of these are what
I pray for you,
but most of all,
I hope you breathe.


When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”(John 20:22)

© 2018 Todd Jenkins


Violation

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Your courage is inspiring.
Never underestimate
or forget that.

  I feel a fire.
  At first I believe
  it is yours only;
  the coals of anger
  and rage, fueled
  by violations
  and their attempts
  to dehumanize you.

    After I stand uncomfortably
    near the heat
    for a while,
    my bare feet blistered
    from its remnants,
    I realize that I do not
    want it to be yours alone.

  I want — I need —
  for it to be mine;
  not because doing so
  will reveal the depth
  of your ache in ways
  I can fully comprehend;

but because a candle
flickers in my dreams,
dawning on me,
like the sun rising
across distant mountains,

  casting both light and shadows
  on my own identity,
  revealing a painting
  of worth and healing
  that is inextricably woven
  into this inferno.

    In morning’s light,
    I realize that we
    must have worth together,
    or we will have
    no worth at all.

  I know that my tears
  will not cool, much less
  extinguish the blaze,

but I also know
that their flow
is the path
that connects us,
not only to one another,
but also to the selves
of dignity and respect
for which we were created.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins