Respecting the awesome power of words!

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If I Told You…

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... that the earth is round,
or at least nowhere near flat,
I bet you’d believe me.

... the power of love
dwarfs the love of power,
would your heart perceive
enough evidence to agree?

... that fear’s division
can never overcome
hope’s ingathering,
would you dare
to walk this way?

... the economy of scarcity
is a lie exposed
by grace’s generosity,
would you risk investing your life
in your neighbors?

... that news and entertainment
have become commingled
to the point of no return,
would you seek
to set aside both
your predisposition
and your privilege
in order to discern reality?

... the Justice of God
has a twin sister named Mercy,
would you invite them both
to the celebration
that is your life?

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 

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“Free Ears”

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      That’s the sign
     I’m going to hand-letter
    on poster board
   and hang across
  the front of a card table
 near a busy
pedestrian intersection.

Perched behind
 the advertisement,
  I’ll offer an empty chair
    for passersby,
      leaning-in as they
       take a load off,
        giving their stories
         a roost to call home.

   What tale
  would you spin,
 right there in front
of God and everybody?

I might tell
 of the gut-punch
  that overwhelmed me when,
   over a six-week eternity,
    my mom permanently crossed
     from full physical function
      to forever flatlined;

how I lay awake nights,
 bouncing between
  trying to wake up
   from the nightmare,
    and silently plea-bargaining
     with nothing but
      my own life
       and confession as leverage.

      I used to think
     that telling it
    to anyone who’d listen,
  over and over,
 could somehow
change the story.

Then one day
 I realized that I
  was the one changed
   in its telling.

  You don’t have
 to wait for the sign, table,
and chairs to appear.

I keep my free ears
 with me most of the time.

What about you?

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Cell Whispering

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There is but
one great conspiracy.

Its name is Love.

In the end, if not
in the beginning,
or at least somewhere
in the middle,
we will all find
that it is true;

at least all of us
who dare to risk
who we’ve been
told to be,
for the chance
to become who the cells
in our deep-marrows
keep whispering
that we’re meant to be;

Yes; true.
More true than anything
past, present, or future.

When we do,
our world will never
be the same.

If we are courageous enough, 
our world never
being the same
will also make
THE world never
be the same.

Let it begin and continue
with me, with us;
now.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Abiding Love

The story of my Malawi-born son, Patrick, was a key part of yesterday’s sermon, titled, “Abiding Love.” Here are a few pictures of Patrick. At the bottom, you’ll find a link to the sermon.

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The sermon link:

Bam!

IMG_3734Photo by Owen Todd Jenkins

 

Our culture of violence didn’t appear
like 4th of July fireworks,
bursting on the scene in technicolor.

It was more like Virginia creeper,
slowly suctioning its way
up the facade of society,
one wall of war,
one generation of weapons,
one identified enemy at a time.

It thrived when lethal force was baptized
as the answer to differences,
legitimizing an economy freighted
on escalating weaponization.

Under the guise of order and law,
we not only sanctioned it,
we also sanitized it,
so that, in our eyes,
it was not gruesome,
but glorious.

Soon, it became the framework
for much of our entertainment.
We praised our children
for emulating it in their play;
we secretly desired to be its heroes.

The only time we notice it —
the only time we object —
is when the tables are turned,
and it’s used against us
by ones who perennially
feel its boot on their necks.

By then, it’s too late.

It courses through our veins,
a toxic cocktail of rage and blame,
embalming our souls
for useless photo-op preservation,
as if it’ll somehow matter
when they say,
with venom oozing
from sharply cornered sneers,
“But they look so nice,
so respectable!”

Lord, send legions
of your angels,
for we have dispensed
with most everyone else!

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 

Whistle

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    The ten o’clock train
    cruises through town,
    whistling in the dark
    to signal its passing;

  and I, years removed
  from parallel steel
  and locomotives,
  am transported
  by its lonesome warble
  to simpler, childhood days
  when marbles,
  baseball cards,
  and bicycles ruled.

What would I give
to return to such naïveté?

  Nothing.

    I am marrow-deep convinced
    that hope
    is far more securely grounded
    in a future where questions
    drift on the wind,
    and life’s complexities
    are navigated much less
    by certitude and
    much more by grace.

  Grace of more
  than tiger’s eye,
  banana seat, and
  clothes-pinned trading cards;

of grief and pain
ripped deep,
when a parent left
and broke our hearts,
preparing us
for spindly love
to slice us to the marrow.

  Now, this is a box-car
  I would hop,
  to ride to who-knows-where,
  with hobos born
  far and near,
  in search of bread and wine
  to quench and satisfy
  the empty rumbling
  in our souls.

    Do you hear
    the whistle blowing?

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 

Harmony

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    Grace is a haunting melody,
  if anything, and
the best that
  any of us can do
    is lay our stories
  within her measures
and dare to sing
  the narrative of our lives.

    Of course
  you’ll sing off-key.
We all do.

    And we’ll sing
  through the rests,
screeching like a
  testosterone-enraged
    tom-cat on the prowl,
  or a love-sick mother
wooing life-giving resources
  for her brood.

    But the day will come,
  not all at once,
and not when we notice
  or expect it,
    when it almost sounds
  as if we’re harmonizing,
even though
  we don’t know how.

    The voices of those
  nearest and dearest
will also begin to blend,
  as we learn to use ears
    more than mouths;
  navigating the hallway
between head and heart.

    Belt it, baby!
  The world is hungering
to hear your cover.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 

Risking All

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Faith is a journey
across time, space, and life;
a continual lesson
that challenges us
to move from holding on
to letting go,
from the desperate air-clutch
of free-falling
to the peace and comfort
of being held.

It questions our assumptions
and the validity of our fears.

In a culture of consumption,
acquisition, and storage,
it dares us to experience
the transformative grace
of productivity, distribution,
and restoration.

It asks us to risk acting
with God’s generosity
in a world that refuses
to believe that anyone
cares about or knows us
any more or better
than we do ourselves.

It is in these selfless moments
and acts
that we catch joy-filled glimpses
of our true nature.

Faith is the gift
for which we are created,
the purpose of our existence,
the primal mystery
for which our deepest memory longs.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Exorcism

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It seems to me that
  the evil of possessions —
    whether it be money, property,
    power, privilege, or something else — 
    is not that we own them,
    but that in the very act
  of our ownership,
two subliminal things happen:

(1) our ownership,
  when reflected
    in the public sphere,
  tends to generate a sense of scarcity,
rather than abundance; and

  (2) our possessions, then,
  become our possessors.

That is how the appearance
  of even one or two human creatures
    (Yeah, we have a way
    of dehumanizing them,
  don’t we?)
can trigger a full-scale anxiety attack.

That’s when our possessing possessions
  begin to whisper to us,
    “You know, we’re not unlimited,
    and if you start sharing us,
    before you know it,
    the tables will be flipped —
    you never know who’ll overturn them —
    and you’ll become
    the vile creature yourself;
  and you know no one will share
any of us with you, then.”

  Sneaky little twits, aren’t they?

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 

Full Flow

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Greed is total surrender
to the fear that,
despite today’s sufficiency,
tomorrow will leave us resourceless;
and therefore,
too much is never enough.

It’s a frenetic piling-on
creating utter breathlessness.

We are (meaning “I am,
and I invite you
to confess your complicity.”)
slow to recognize
that the ability
to tightly hold things
with our tiny hands and
the small part
of our mind and soul
that value such grasping,
is the greatest impediment
to accepting all that for which
God has created us.

Hope is the antidote,
as holy respiration,
allowing us to breathe
deeply and slowly,
palms upturned and open,
so that more of who we’re
meant to be can settle on us,
even wash over us.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins