Respecting the awesome power of words!

love

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

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

Glory’s Spread

J48NQ0yGRy2wfnhhvJnmcQPhoto by Jennie Roberts Jenkins

Our Invitation to the Table 
at FPC Greeneville, TN, 
on November 11, 2018, 
tying together Mark 12:38-44 
(exposing the scribes’ power mongering 
and the widow’s mite) 
and  the Table.

 

Yes, I, too, thought
  this was about
  the propagation of a —
  if not THE — divine attribute;
specifically about how I
  was called to participate
  in sacred — if not holy — ways,
  in slathering divine beauty
  all over the global landscape;

until she conjured up
  Eucharistic images,
  and even snapshots
  of everyday tables
(which are, by the way,
  anything but ordinary)
  to which I have been invited:

ones where bread and wine
  have been prepared,
  ones where love and forgiveness
  have been dared,
  ones where grace and mercy
  have been shared.

That’s where I began to see
  how little of this
  is about my worshipful mind
  and the sacred music I sing,
  and how much of it’s about
  when and where I’m kind,
  and the hope I reflect and bring;

and how often I miss
  its rich nutritional feast
  by overlooking
  the outcast and the least;
and when I gorge and stuff,
  how the processed junk
  is never enough.

And there before us
  rests glory’s spread,
  at table where Christ
  is sacred head;
meal not so rich
  with scarcity’s gap,
  as fullness poured
  into each lap;
always room
  for one more there;
help your neighbor
  pull up a chair.

We’re all invited
  as we’re able;
one and all,
  come to the table!

© 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


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

 


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

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

New Chapters

fullsizeoutput_2733For all of you who’ve had to hang out at the Chemo Bar for too long, thinking you’d already heard “Last call!”, but now have learned you need “One more round.”

 

The previous chapters
weren’t all that bad;
in fact, many
of them quite delightful.

  Yes, there were parts
  we’d like to have rewritten;
  but the boat’s no longer
  in that bend of the river,
  and we’re using our fresh ink
  on here and now.

    Though we had hoped
    not to write
    another one that includes chemo,
    it looks like that’s the story
    that still needs to be lived.

      So, in its living,
      we will write.

    We’ll write about care,
    for it will be taken.

  We’ll write about love,
  for it is the craft
  in which we’re carried.
  We’ll write about grace,
  for it is the river.
  We’ll write about hope,
  for it is tomorrow’s memory,
  slipping into our dreams at night,
  calling us toward one another.

For this and every chapter,
O God, we give you thanks.
Amen.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins