Respecting the awesome power of words!

Latest

Spoken Hearts

hh6

 

Those who are
 vocabulary-challenged,
  and/or overcome by fear,
  often feel forced
 to abandon oral communication
in favor of violence;

the bravest, or perhaps
 the most desperate,
perpetrate physical aggression;

those with lesser gumption
 often assault language itself,
  waging battle against long-held meaning,
 gas-lighting society
into lexical confusion.

The rest of us
 are then tasked
  to hold firm
   to the tension
    between conflict
     forced upon us,
    and the eternal possibility
   of language,
  refusing to abandon
 the common ground
of our shared meanings.

In the end,
 war’s horror cannot
  stand on its own;
  and words, with their
 community interpretations,
will win,

because our common story
 outlives every other blitzkrieg,
  and love’s vocal evocation
 eventually woos
even frozen, trembling hearts.

          And now faith, hope, 
          and love abide, these three; 
          and the greatest of these is love. 
          (1 Corinthians 13:13)

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 

Advertisements

The Psalmist’s Drawer

IMG_7148

 

We all need a drawer,
  roomy and strong,
  where nothing but
our painful feelings are held.

Every day, and as many times
  as necessary,
  we can air out the filters,
  and let the hurts,
  injustices, and suffocations
  rise to the surface and
  be expressed with all the passion
and outrage we can muster.

When the fireworks subside,
  and respiration has slowed and deepened,
  the drawer will ask,
  “Is this going to define your day, 
or even your life?”

If our answer is, “No.”, 
  we can open the drawer,
  lay our feels to rest,
  and return to our life,
  assured that our emotions
  have been heard, and
that they’re real and valid.

Then, and only then,
  can we allow ourselves
to be raised above the ache.

Some days, new grief
  triggers memories of injuries past,
  tempting us to make a withdrawal
  from the drawer,
rather than a deposit.

This is when the drawer’s inquiry
  is crucial,
  “Is this going to define your day, 
or even your life?” 

By the way,
  in case you’re wondering,
the drawer’s name is God.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Yet

zyet

So many choices we have 
for what might be God’s utterance, 
when all seems done and 
the only thing left to say – 
the only thing allowed 
to be said – is a single word.

Powerful and compassionate verbs 
come to mind, as do 
unique and tender nouns, 
or maybe adjectives, 
or some other eloquent string 
of letters and syllables 
possessing unmatched beauty.

Even so, I know 
the word is “Yet.”

Yet, in its not-quite, 
still-to-come sense, 
holding out possibility 
in the presence of nothingness, 
or even in the face 
of every imaginable oppositeness.

Yet, in its 
“You’ve blazed a long trail 
in the opposite direction 
from where you need to be, 
and missed what’s been 
in front of your face all along, 
so turn around.” sense.

God’s word is “Yet.” 
I’m still trying 
to get used to it.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Here We Are

FullSizeRender (75)

I wanted my words
to make a difference;
not just the words
that leaked out of my mouth
in the heat of the moment,

but the words that seeped
out of my veins, carrying parts
of me from the deepest places
I’ve yet to plumb,

when your pain stabbed me
with the dull side of its blade,
its razor edge sunk
to the hilt in your heart.

I wanted my blood
to make a difference;
but it didn’t.

At least, it didn’t effect
the wispy dream of reconciliation
I constructed with letters,
punctuation, and space —
lots of space.

So, here we are,
on the far side of words —
on the dried side of blood —
and the wet side of tears;

still groping for the edge
of the grave,
still hoping for breath
not squeezed tight
by pain and rejection.

Here we are.

Here we are.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Siblings

lpatrick2Photo by Linda Patrick

 

“Justice and peace
will kiss each other."
- Psalm 85:10

Justice and Peace embrace
in a warm hug and
double-cheek kiss

because they’re long-lost siblings,
separated soon after birth
by cultures, societies, nations,
and people who cannot see
and believe God’s generosity
and extravagance;

a blind disbelieving which tilts
the world toward selfishness,
greed, anxiety, and fear.

In the tension of such shrinking,
their (J’s & P’s) mother
had to ship them off
to separate family members
to be raised, while she
continually cleans up the messes
and patches the rent fabric
in societies that
tiny-hearted people create.

At least, that’s
the story I’m dreaming.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Out of Darkness

IMG_6883

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

 

Borrowed Ears

IMG_3457

(a preacher’s dream/hope for a new year)

 

Some folks are great
at telling stories
with their mouths.

Theirs are the most detailed
and most accurate.

They are also the longest
and often the most boring,
stumbling and fumbling
over facts irrelevant
to both the point of the story
and their listeners.

Other people are great
at regaling you
with their own ears,
keenly aware of how
their tales make them appear
 in the eyes of their audience.

Whatever else you’ve learned
when they are finished,
you now see them
in a more ethereal light.

Help me, O Lord, learn how
to unfold narratives
using borrowed ears,
so my listeners hear,
not me or
my most presentable self
or their pretend selves,
but their deepest, richest selves
in the story.

Even more, let their ears
tell me how to verbally reveal
glimpses of grace,
calling us all to a hope
that is deeper, broader,
more connective,
and more accessible
than before vocal chords strummed
and ear drums beat
in synchronized rhythm.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 

I Remember Your Name

IMG_0297

 

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

Intercession

air-gua

 

For a weakened  heart
  we intercede, O Lord.
    May it be like electricity
    in an old house,
    steadily pumping current,
    whether all the wires
  are firmly connected
or not.

For fragile lungs
  we intercede, O breath
    of wind and spirit.
    May they function like
    an HVAC system
    of an historic structure,
  pumping air, in spite
of cracked and leaky ductwork.

For struggling kidneys,
  we intercede, O God.
    May they be like plumbing
    in a long-lived-in home,
   steadfastly moving water and waste,
  despite occasionally-leaking
joints and fixtures.

Keep this house
  in order, O holy one,
    with all the wisdom, compassion,
    and understanding that
    the medical community can bluster,
    while we pray with all
  the hope we can muster.
Amen.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Sacred Posture

IMG_7574Photo by Anne Shurley

 

Our traditional positioning
for prayer has hands palm-to-palm,
fingers aimed skyward,
as if we arc our words —
and maybe our hearts —
heavenward, to pierce the skies
with intercession on behalf
of others and self,
aiming plaintive and joyous arrows
into the Divine throne room.

Today, however, I am drawn
to a different manual posture:
palms up, cupped, side by side,
as if I am holding loved ones
up closer to my heart,
but still clearly on cosmic display,
a reminder of our specific brokenness
and a request for holy healing;

also as if crystal water
were being poured into my hands —
if not my soul —
refreshing us in all
our parched places.

Fill us with your grace,
O holy one.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins