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love

Counting Questions

DeEttaHJenkins

Photo by DeEtta Harris Jenkins

There are expenses
we regularly calculate, but
there are others we ignore.

In order to see the big picture,
we can't just ask,
"How much does it cost
to do such-and-such?" or
"How much does it cost
to not do it?"

We must recognize that
costs can be attached
to more than our wallets.
Here are some
of the gospel's calculating questions:

What will it cost my heart & soul
to do or not do this?
What will doing or
not doing this cost my family?
What will this action or
inaction cost my neighbor?
What will these choices
cost the planet?

The universe is expanded
by gracious choices.
It is diminished
by greedy ones.

The cost is outrageous
for all these priceless lives;
secretly calculated in hearts
too small to hold Love's grand truth;

too scared to see all of us
have the same value;
too busy counting and comparing
to feel the ground beneath us quaking,
the skies above us tearing.

We shrink because we sense difference,
recoil with superiority's confidence,
while the universe expands and diversifies
and the holy one weeps.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Holy Ground

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“Observe the drama; 
don't be the drama.” 

On the beach,
you can remove your sandals
and walk parallel
to the ocean,
letting the waves lap
at your feet when they're
at their weakest –
the turning point –
just before the water's energy
pulls it back toward
the edge of earth and sky.

The wet and not-wet,
soft and firm sand
at the edge of the tide
is holy ground.

Further inland,
from which daily existence
seems to call,
it feels like burning bushes
are more common,
and our feet quickly begin
to scorch as we are pulled
from fire to fire.

Fire-walkers will tell you
that, even with seasoned soles,
we must wait for the ash
to form over the smoldering coals
before we dare
to pass over someone else's drama.

I think this requires sitting
and listening longer,
moving and speaking less.

Maybe it also requires love.

Perhaps there is
no true resurrection
without love, because, 
sans the particularity
of deep-marrow knowing
and being known,
bringing back people
from the dead is a parlor trick
at best, and Groundhog Day
at worst, in which we have
to suffer the same
anonymous meaninglessness
of life over and over,
convinced that a single detail changed
will somehow create a fairy tale life.

Let us love deeply;
deeper today than yesterday;
deeper tomorrow than today;
deeper giving than we've received;
deeper from the tomb
than we can imagine escaping.

Yes, deeply, for this is how
we find ourselves being raised
out of that which never
really approached life anyway.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


You

FullSizeRender (100)Yes, you…

Momming is identified,
not by biology, but
by its web of care,
its haven of hope,
its manuscript of guidance,
its blanket of prayer,
its fire of indignation,
its roots of relationship,
its watering can of nurture,
its stove of nourishment,
its taxi of deliverance (and sometimes rescue),
its bottomless bucket of belief,
its bone-deep compassion and grief,
its purse of support,
its sermon of conviction,
its cheer of encouragement,
and quite a few more
that often fade into the backdrop.

A toast to you,
and all the ways
you've mommed us:
may your spiritual DNA
keep the universe
expanding toward grace!

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Raised

rozsalinePainting by Rosalind Golden Saline

Surely light years beyond
wildest hopes and
deepest imaginations,
he is raised,
not just from the tomb,
but also from the debasing
of mocking, the torture
of scourging, and the excruciating
execution of crucifixion.

Was his appearance
nearly incognito because
of the impossibility of it all,
or because transcending death
alters persona far beyond
human fathomability?
Perhaps it was both.

His face, tilted skyward,
eyes closed,
no longer in agony,
now in serenity.

His skin at one
and the same time ashen,
yet fully thrushed with life;
its shading defies
ethnocentric limitations.

His lips, resting in a fashion
best-described as tranquility.
Completely antithetical
to terrestrial powers that sought
his demise via violence,
his presence exudes a gentleness
only love can elicit;

right hand lowered and open,
both revealing a lack
of animosity and weaponry,
and clearly displaying
still-fresh wounds,
beckoning us toward
our own deepest healing;

his left hand pointing heavenward,
living water flowing from it,
new life springing up
from a parched desert floor;
light bursting from above,
revealing creation’s eternally-held dream.

Last, but also perhaps first,
the robe;
swirling transfiguration's glow
with stone-rolling angel's ensemble;
but even those two foreshadowings
are inadequate descriptions
of its hope-infused cloud.

Sit with the elements;
letting life's river wash over you,
divine wind swirl your heart,
and corpus  of unconditional love
carry you into the grace
of each tomorrow's resurrection.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Falling

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When your heart flutters
for the plight
of some other species,
when your wallet falls
readily open
for helpless and abused animals,

by all means,
give of yourself
in ways promising
to make the world more whole.

And when your breathing
levels out again,
giving you opportunity
for reflection,

ask yourself how
you might interpolate
such far-flung love
to those whose DNA
and messy life
are intertwined with,
if not strangling your own.

Love, however it begins,
whether near or far,
is the creature for and
in whom we exist.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Anger River

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Old Stone Fort (Manchester, TN)

Anger River is sourced
from three primary tributaries:
plans gone awry,
predictability thrown out the window,
and control dismantled.

It doesn't matter whether
these creeks flow
through the mirror or
the magnifying glass,
the outcome is the same:

a raging torrent sweeping away
all hope of mercy, forgiveness,
and especially, love.

Sometimes, you just need
to struggle to the shore,
sit in the sun until
your clothes are dry,
and choose to wade
into another creek.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Timid Rain

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I woke to low visibility today,
not so much in my mirror
as in the world
outside my window.

It was as if the rain
lost its courage somewhere
between clouds and earth,
afraid it might cause pain
if it fell full force, or somehow
became sidetracked on its fall,
and didn’t want to arrive
in the wrong place and time,

so it hung mid-way,
clustered in large numbers
of small particles,
attaching themselves
to anything and anyone
within the vicinity,

forming a sheen of moisture,
weighing down any and every
thing with pockets to absorb
its molecules of moisture.

There are other forces
lingering mid-way
in our lives like that; some
for better, others for worse.

Be careful which ones
you allow to saturate
the fabric of your life.

When fear, anxiety, and
mistrust are fogging you in,
you might as well
leave on your slicker;

but soak up compassion,
pocket generosity,
fill your pores with hope;
these are the mists
of divine hydration.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


True Love

donna-repa

Photo by Donna Repa

The secret to not being
afraid of being known
is letting God love you
for who you are.

The catalyst for this mystery
is called "forgiveness".

As long as we are afraid
of accepting this gift,
we are swinging
the business end
of a double-edge sword.

On one side,
we are gouged
by the guilt
of our own brokenness.

On the other,
we are sliced
by a fear of
and fixation on
the brokenness of others.

Love, which sees all
but chooses to focus on
and feed the flower
of hope, is the only antidote.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Ache

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Love is not what hurts us.
People, who do not understand
how to love at all or
who love imperfectly
or who give up
on love altogether, hurt us.

But it is our willingness
to take a chance on love
that puts us in
such vulnerable circumstances.

Without such a risk,
we would never have
the opportunity to know
love's gift at all.

Life hurts, not love;
but it's not nearly as painful
as the empty ache
and anesthesia
of being too afraid to open
ourselves to love or be loved.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Here & Now

Sometimes, the rhythm of Clement Moore’s 1822 classic drops by for an afternoon, asking for some new verses; and sometimes, I can oblige.

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Time seems to fly;
it's the middle of December,
and it's all we can do
to try and remember
the reason we're here
in this time and place;
the reason we're breathing
and taking up space.

The world has its answers;
they sound so attractive.
It says to grab stuff
and always be active.
In spite of commercials
and mass advertising,
that dog won't hunt,
and it's not surprising

that trying to follow
this wearying path
just doesn't add up,
no matter how good your math.
Somewhere deep inside
from the day of our birth
we know whose we are
and what gives us worth.

It won't come from power
or things piled up high,
but grace overflowing
and hope in the eye.
We're here on the planet
to care for each other,
to offer ourselves
for a sister or brother.

This thing we call love
that fills every heart ❤
is what drives us all,
and the place where we start.
It's not what we have,
where we work, who we know;
it's respect that we give
and love that we show.

This holiday season
and all our lives long,
let's listen and share,
it's what makes us strong.
Stronger as friends,
stronger as neighbors,
strong as we share
the fruit of our labors.

Let hope be unwrapped
in your breathing and living;
let love overflow
in receiving and giving.
No matter how crazy,
no matter how wild,
never ever forget
that you're God's precious child.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins