Respecting the awesome power of words!

Posts tagged “connection

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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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

Revolution

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So often I have longed
 and looked for her
  to arrive on stately steed,
   impenetrable coat of mail,
    shield, sword, and spear
  to multiply the fear, 
 as I sit idly by, 
enjoying the show.

      When she appears,
     demurely standing beside
    all whose necks bear
   the boot print of power,
  all who’re on the menu,
 steadily waving
the flag of resistance,
 I look right past her,
  blinded by the irony
    of a privilege that’s unable
      to recognize anything but
       the love of power,
         impervious to
          the power of love.

Still, she refuses
 to throw me under the bus,
 declines to send me
to a seat in the rear.

   “Sing with us.” she invites.
  “The revolution will uproot
 fear and hatred,
not with looking glass’
 shield and retribution,
  but by the resonance
  of neighbor and
   the restoration of love.”

That's when the fire 
 in my bones is stoked, 
  and I can more clearly see 
    where my own words and actions 
  can add to the dismantling 
 of the leaning tower, and 
lay a foundation for hope.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Hunger

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We thought that accumulating
a treasury of resources,
regardless of the cost to others
and to the planet,
would somehow soothe
the hunger in our souls.

What we failed to recognize
was the depth of need
in our marrow,
and the reality
that this ravenous maw’s desire
could only be satisfied
by listening to and integrating
the narratives of other people
into our own stories.

Thus, the hospitality
of open ears and hearts
becomes the divine gift
through which
lives are intertwined,
famine is abated,
and the cosmos’ heartbeat
is extended.

© 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

Division

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I can’t remember
the exact year in school
when my teacher introduced
the concept of division.

I do remember, however,
that it was always about things —
apples, cookies, toys —
and never about people;

a mathematical tool
for equally parceling out
specific things:

Your mom cooked 72 Halloween cookies
for you to share at school.
You have 24 students
in your class.
How many cookies
should each student receive?

There was never a word problem
that required dividing people;
never a question like:

Of the 24 students in your class,
18 are from Christian families
whose parents were born
in the USA,
and whose racial identity is white.
The remainder are
of other religions,
and/or were born of foreign citizens,
and/or are of another ethnicity.
Of what fraction/percentage
of your classmates
should you be afraid?

Nope.
I never learned to divide people.

In fact, my faith guides me
to add them:

You shall not wrong or oppress
a resident alien,
for you were aliens
in the land of Egypt.
You shall not abuse
any widow or orphan.
(Exodus 22:21-22)

“Which of these three,
do you think,
was a neighbor to the man
who fell into the hands
of the robbers?”
He said, “The one
who showed him mercy.”
Jesus said to him,
“Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:36-37)

... you shall love
the Lord your God
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your mind,
and with all your strength.’
The second is this,
‘You shall love your neighbor
as yourself.’
There is no other commandment
greater than these.”
(Mark 12:30-31)

This is God’s people-math.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Up and Out

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Photo by Ben Padgett

 

      From the beginning of time,
    God’s self-revealing
  has had as its purpose,
  the collection of all creation
into a gathered community.

      Abram was told
    he and Sarai would be
  blessed in order to become
a blessing to the nations.

      The prophets reminded Israel
    that her chosenness was intended
  to be a beacon by which
all nations would come to know YHWH.

      Unfortunately, also
    from the beginning of time,
  we humans have taken
  God’s self-revelation
  to us to be a call
for elevation and exclusion.

      Like proverbial blind folks
    approaching an elephant
  from different directions,
  we hang-on to a tail,
  or leg, or trunk, or tusk,
  fully convinced that our perception
  and experience are both
exhaustive and exclusive.

      It’s past time to grow up
    and out of our spiritual infancy
  and adolescence,
  deepening our own faith’s roots
and reaching out its branches,

      so neither it nor we are threatened
    by the variety of spiritual paths
  into and through which
others have been called.

© 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

Together

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If I told you we’re together,
would you believe you weren’t alone?
If I gave you space for breathing,
could we make it on our own?

If your tears fell on my shoulder,
could we find a way to talk?
If I listened to your story,
could we find a way to walk?

If we steady one another
when the road is steep and long,
can we journey toward a village
where we know that we belong?

If the rain falls hard upon us,
so you cannot see my face,
will you listen to the whisper
of the wind as it speaks grace?

If the sun slips from the mountain,
and stars hide behind a cloud,
will you tilt your ear toward heaven
as your name is called aloud?

When I tell you we’re together,
please believe we’re not alone.
When you’re given space for breathing,
we will not be on our own.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins