Respecting the awesome power of words!

inspiration

E-Strangement

IMG_3929Photo by Owen Jenkins

How much more has our access
to a virtual world exacerbated
our isolation and identity
of both other and self as stranger?

We are, are we not, e-strangers;
limited-character replies
passing in the night,
hell-bent and fear-rent
on steaming full speed ahead
so we don’t dare take on anything,
much less anyone?

Neighborhooding, friending,
working, voting, and churching
ourselves into social, economic,
and religious homogeneity
are not the answer;
they are the problem.

Open the door —
the actual physical one —
and break out the food —
the kind that satisfies
real human hunger.

We must gather ‘round a table
where all have a seat
and none are on the menu.

This is our only chance;
our only path away
from mutually assured destruction;
our only road to hope.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins
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May Our Prayers Rise to Meet You

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Our prayers rise on your behalf,
lifting you into the presence
of the Great Physician:

Behold your precious child, O God;
one created in your image
and filled with your reflection.

Grant that the medical team
may continue to act with wisdom,
compassion, and understanding,
so that the journey along the
road to recovery may be
bearable and dotted
with respites and oases
giving breathing room.

Grant an awakening each day
with enough courage
to climb out of bed,
enough strength
to shuffle forward,
and enough hope
to lift eyes to the rising sun.

Grant that caretakers and family
may discern when to push
and when to hold,
when to cry
and when to laugh,
when to speak
and when to sit in silence.

These and all prayers we waft
in the name of him whose robe hem
sparkled with life itself,
Jesus the Christ. Amen.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins


Foundations

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More than a dozen years ago, as a friend’s dad faced chemotherapy, I envisioned and wrote about this scene:

 

I see him standing
on a stormy beach.
It is a place
he’s been before.

The waves are tall,
strong, and fast.
Sand is washing out
from under his feet.
Anxiety is, understandably,
rising with the tide.

I also see a strong,
enormous hand scooping him up
and holding him safely.

Where the receding sand
washed away,
large foundation stones
are moved into place.

The cornerstone has
a familiar look and scent;
the look of compassion
and the scent of love.

When the foundation is secure,
the protective hand sets him
back down onto the rocks.

May Christ be for you all,
and may he give you each
the hope, strength,
and courage to be
for one another,
pillars of hope and
foundations of comfort
during the raging storm
of chemotherapy.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Out of Darkness

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We use the word holy
to name that which
we know primarily as pure,
powerful, and other;

mystery, to describe
that which hasn't yet
revealed itself to us;

and sacred, to define
experiences in which
we've been so close
to the holy and mysterious
that we've felt
breath on our necks.

Do we ever experience
any of these anywhere
other than in the dark?

Try to help me remember this
the next time clouds obscure
the moon and stars,
and my knees begin to knock.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


I Remember Your Name

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Those who’ve loved and left
by way of death’s door
are not really lost.

I call to them,
call on them,
recall them
in so many ways.

The names of love
are like decorations
for the tree;

ones I’ve had
for years; ones
whose stories have
made me who I am.

If I leave them
in the attic
or the basement,
their memories will not
stay in the box.

They drift in and out
of moments and conversations,
deep and rich as ever;
never nameless,
no matter what,
even when I struggle
to not say them.

I remember your name,
and in its speaking,
who I’ve been
shapes both who I am
and who I will become.

I remember your name,
and as it’s vocalized,
life is breathed once more,
in me, through me,
beyond me.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

3 Rivers

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Life consists of a journey
between and beyond three rivers;
the first is named Patience;
another, Preparation;
the third, Perseverance.

The first river has
neither bridges
nor is it fordable.
It asks you to wait
while someone constructs
a way to cross.
Maybe, you become the builder.

The second river also seems
impossible to cross.
It wants you to be sure
you know how to swim
before you jump in.

The third river is no more
crossable than the first two.
It wants to know if you're
hungry enough to jump,
and trusting enough to float.

The rivers already know you.
How are you
getting to know them?

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


The Beginning Is Near

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To genuinely observe Advent,
without being pulled
into the cultural tsunami
of commercial Christmas,
is to participate
in the eternal plan of Grace.

It is to rest in the promise
of divine deliverance
with at least a modicum
of hope that the gift will arrive,
not only with more
than sufficient efficacy,
but also before
the nick of time.

It is to admit
that we are fully incapable
of generating the gift
of incarnation on our own,
and we are therefore
entirely dependent
on both God's mercy and timing.

It is, at one and the same time,
both an exhilarating journey
and a risky adventure.  

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


Revolutionary

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Poetry, like parable,
  is a powerful strain
   of subversive resistance.

        In parable, most often,
      by the powers
    of familiarity and comfort,
  we are lulled into sidling up
to prophetic truth
  with no more hesitation
    or anxiety than a carefree child
      lounging in the autumn grass
        with a magnifying glass
      or a beloved, snoozing family pet.

    Poetry seduces us,
  by a trinity of brevity,
wherein we find
  both breathing room
    and a niche for inserting
      our own narrative;

        simplicity, refreshing us like
      a summer rain shower;

    and a turn of phrase,
  opening neural pathways
of imagination we’ve either
  long-forgotten or never knew existed.

    Our first few encounters
      with these radical forms
        of blood-fueled ink
      can be chalked up
    to inexperience or naïveté.

  Eventually, however,
we will probably have to admit
  that something deep within
    hungers for such
      a revolutionary soirée.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


Live It

fallA sermon riff on Matthew 23:1-12

 

The Pharisees’ talk 
is miles ahead of their walk,
their show far outpaces their go,
a saint is one thing they ain't.

Jesus differentiates between
the ones who are just
a flash in their own pan
and the ones the light shines through.

They're only platitudes
when our speaking
of them far exceeds
our living of them;

when what we say
is incongruent
with what we live;

when the verbal art
we paint is light years
beyond the canvas
of our ways;

when our talk and walk
are a bait and switch;
when we voice grace
but breathe fear.

The Communion of Saints includes
all those who ask forgiveness
when they live transactionally;
all those who choose
to see beyond binary thinking;
all those who find ways
to allow the transformational power
of grace to both enter in and pour out
of their broken, cracked places.

When the power of resurrection
seeps into our brokenness
at all the thin places
and thin times of our lives,

it is so radical and transformational
that the transactional world
cannot deal with it.

We begin to let go of all the pretending,
all the perfection, comparison, competition,
scarcity, fear, blaming, hoarding, ego;
all of the things by which
we had been controlled.

We begin to play by different rules.
The old rules, hard and fast
as they are, become insignificant;
not because we are above them,
but because we have been
moved beyond them.

We can no longer see and act
in binary fashion, checking off lists
of things we will or won't do
because they are right or wrong.

We are both under the control
of and set free by something
much bigger than law.

We are living through Love,
which turns out to be a messy,
complicated rule that refuses
to be exclusively held by anyone
or nailed to any particular place or time.

This Love is a gift.
We didn't earn it.
We don't own it.
We can't choose who deserves it,
because nobody does,
including us.

Yet it's been given to us anyway;
not just parceled out to us stingily,
but poured out on us extravagantly;

given to us so that
we can let its gift and power
soak all the way
to the marrow of our bones,

flushing out all hurt and hatred,
and all other lies of "not enough"
all falsehoods of “not good enough”;

given to us so that
we can reflect it to others;
so that we can share it
with everyone we meet.

Unlike all that other stuff
that controlled us,
this Love shrinks and dies
when we try to hoard it,
but grows and blossoms
when we give it away.

This is our mission –
our life's purpose
from this day forward –

to let the rule of Love
free us to respond with grace,
not because anyone has earned it,
but because we are all
dying without it.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Yarn

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Story is neither magic
nor medicinal,
in and of itself.

It is simply a way
of connecting yesterday's thread
of existence with today's,
laying groundwork
for the possibility of tomorrow.

It can be weaponized,
like most any tool,
when the tales told come
from a single source,
and one that’s oblivious
to every character but self.

If you want to feel
its purest form,
let a child spin you
yarns of truth formed
in the crucible
of innocence and vulnerability.

Then, you'll understand
the lines on which
the world turns.  

© 2017 Todd Jenkins