Respecting the awesome power of words!

Posts tagged “community

Race

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    It's really just a contest
    to see who can arrive faster
    or with more support;

  so when we shoehorn it
  into biology, we're often
  escalating the competition,
  by declaring superiority
  of one group over another.

Suffixing imaginary genetic match
with "ism" isn't always about
old fashioned hate spewed
in the light of day.

  Sometimes it's much more subtle:
  an unspoken framework
  for socioeconomic and cultural mores
  tilting everything in favor
  of predetermined medalists.

    We don't have to ask for it
    or even recognize it
    to be complicit.

  All we have to do
  is deny or ignore it.

It will march on,
grinding unchosen ones
into dust, while anesthetizing
the rest to seductive
and powerful privilege.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins
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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

 


“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

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:


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

 


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

 


Where the Heart Is

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You can never step
 into the same river twice.

Neither the you
who is stepping
nor the water that's flowing
are the same as at
any time before or after.

Time, it’s been said,
stops for no one,
“an ever rolling stream”
bearing all of us
toward eternity.

Home is just such a river,
which is not to say,
that once you leave,
you can't go back;

just a reminder
that life's flow
makes both of you
different than you once were.

Go home anyway.

No matter how long
it’s been, both you
and home need to visit
one another again;

for such are the ways
by which the universe
is regularly reordered.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Objection

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Politics and Faith often function
  as competing claims
  for the same prize:
the soul of humanity.

You can no more baptize one
  in the name of the other
  with a light sprinkling of rhetoric
  than you can sweeten the ocean
with a few teaspoons of sugar. 

I'm not a professional student
  of the history
  of the USA's immigration policy,
  but the piecemeal agreements
  and policies that directly address
  and affect our neighbors
  to the south seem to be
  heavily weighted toward developing
and protecting corporate interests,

with little concern for how
  these economic realities impact
  the movement, safety,
  and cohesiveness
  of individual workers
and their families. 

We need less people
  piecing together and quoting
  scattered verses of scripture,
  and more people
  whose intellectual anchor is sunk
in our sacred texts' overarching theme.

God's historical predilection
  for all whose circumstances
  are void of power, voice,
  influence, and control is peppered
throughout scripture's narrative.

Until that imperative is given
  a legitimate seat
  at the policy table,
  and the economic practices
  that perpetuate our ballooning
  resource imbalance are up
  for honest discussion,
  human and family need
  will continue to be
unaddressed and unmet. 

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Get Thee Behind Me, G!

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“Jesus is bringing in 
another kingdom!” 
he declared.

“What kind of kingdom?” 
I wondered.

“A fierce, brutal kingdom!” 

“Hmmm.” I said.
“We’ve already had 
a bate of those monarchies. 
They’re a dime a dozen, 
piled high with carnage 
and destruction, 
toppled and reinvented 
like an unstoppable wave 
of serial monogamists. 
What if Jesus had something 
altogether different in mind?”

“Like what?” he asked,
his voice dripping
with doubt and suspicion.

When they heard
that he taught
as one with authority,
the generals and the politicians
and the landed gentry
and a few other wannabes
who were skilled
at masquerading
came to see him.

“We have come 
to do your bidding, Jesus. 
Your word is our command. 
Speak and we will marshal 
our troops and resources 
on your behalf.” 

His voice was unmistakably
firm and unyielding,
“I have come to proclaim 
a new way of being; 
a community where the tools 
you have come to treasure 
will be exposed 
as impotent and irrelevant; 
a neighborhood 
where connection reigns supreme.” 

“But, rabbi,” 
they chimed in chorus,
“we have all this might 
and power to wield 
on behalf of your kingdom!” 

“Get thee behind me, G! 
For I came to slice you 
from the middle 
of the violent concept 
of kingdom, 
and usher in God’s realm 
of kin-dom.” 

One by one,
with heads drooped
and shoulders stooped,
they slouched
toward their fortresses,
oblivious to the way
love was already
crumbling their walls.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins