Respecting the awesome power of words!

Posts tagged “connection

Breathless

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     He goes to the meeting
     like it’s any other meeting,
   because he’s the one
   who’s supposed to be in charge,
maybe even the one to whom
some people look for answers.

     He knows he has to tell them,
   and he has to do it quickly,
but he doesn’t know how.

     So he opens the meeting with a story;
   not the once-upon-a-time kind,
but a story nonetheless.

     Using third person pronouns,
he distances himself from reality.

     It’s a painful story about a family
     who looks, on the outside,
   like they have it all together;
   but, inside the walls,
things are crumbling
more than anyone else knows.

     A teenage child has drifted away,
     raging on the inside,
   yet also indicating
a willingness to end it all.

     Having been in a lockdown
     adolescent psych unit
     for therapeutic intervention
   for several days now,
   tonight is the first time
   their child will have the privilege
to call home;
but there’s no guarantee.

It’s up to the child.

     For the story’s painfully
     twisted ending, he says,
   “This is a story about me.
   I am going home
   to be with my wife
and sit by the phone,
hoping it will ring.”

     He gets up and walks out,
   feeling as if
   he’s fighting his way
out of a vacuum,
gasping for breath.

     That’s the day a church  
   became acutely aware
   of its need to minister
to its pastor and his family.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins
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No Pockets in a Shroud

IMG_5063Photo by Melinda Dukes

 

By the time
  your garb is a shroud,
    your final wardrobe,
      if not your final answer,
      the cargo pants,
    with all their
  treasure-holding capacity,
will be long gone.

Neither the gold bullion
  nor any other
    gaudy bling
  will have a resting place
in your great beyond.

The only thing
  you can fill
    are the pockets
  of hearts,
yours and others’.

Pour into them memories
of practicing the three
 most valuable gifts
of Life:

Loving
  Listening
Laughing

Invest in this trio
  every chance you get,
  and the whole world
 will benefit greatly.

You’re part
  of the whole world,
so you’ll also be richer.    

© 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

 


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

 


Glory

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What if glory
is the God-gap:
an overflowing,
nearly-overwhelming  presence
that results from a guilt-free,
jealously-free celebration
of the fundamental distinction
between God and the rest
of the universe?

What if God is glorified
when we rightly perceive
the relationship between
God and all else,
especially the relationship
between God and us?

To do so is to take absolute joy
in this great chasm
precisely because we understand
that it is neither
a measure of our failure,
nor an object to be desired,
but rather an appropriate space
in which God can be present
to, with, and for us.

What if glory
is God’s dance floor?

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Have

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Dr. King said,
“I HAVE a dream...”
It was a present tense
reality for him.

It’s quite evident that
the doing hasn’t
yet caught up
with the dreaming.

I’m even concerned
about the dreaming,
at this point.

Have we let that dream
become past tense;
one that WAS HAD?

Or are we still willing
to carry it forward,
in the present tense,
and even into the future?

Unless the dream
is kept alive —
in the HAVE tense —
the doing will wither
on the vine.

Will you keep
dreaming it with me?
Will you also
be a doer with me?

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


4 Steps

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Love
Betrayal
Death
Resurrection;
four steps
of the dance of life.

Forth and back we go,
moment by moment,
step by step;
dips, turns, spins;
often breathless,
even dizzy.

Seldom are the people
in our inner circle
all on the same measure,
much less the same note.

Rarely do our tempos coincide.

But if we pay attention,
and hold one another
with tender, open hands,
the dissonance
of our differences
is significantly overshadowed
by the rhythmic sway
of the cosmos’ heartbeat.

Thump, thump.
Thump, thump.

Breathe.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Vacancy

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        On a hotel or motel sign,
      it beams into the darkness
    to make sure every passerby knows
  at least one more room has been cleaned
and prepared for occupancy.

        How many of the things
      with which we fill our lives
    and schedules are attempts
  to switch off the “Vacancy” sign
in our souls?

  “Doing” will never dim
that flashing neon sign.

    It takes “being”
  and even resting
to accomplish that.

      It takes recognizing that both
    our existence and our purpose
  are inextricably linked
to God as well as to others.

        Fulfillment comes
       when the less-obnoxious
      but quite obvious light
    in our eyes that radiates
  from the depth of our soul
whispers, “Whole.”

      The day when the vacancy sign
    is forever replaced
  with the fullness of grace,
we will be able to sing,

      “Whole at last;
    whole at last!
  Thank God almighty,
I’m whole at last!”

© 2018 Todd Jenkins