By memory we define ourselves; bits and pieces of days gone by, fed by stored mental photographs, watered by emotion's tears of both sorrow and joy at one and the same time. Through memory we anchor ourselves to pasts cringeworthy and exemplary at one and the same time. Growing memory, we construct ourselves into observers of each present moment, anchored by virtue's roots and rising above villain's graves at one and the same time. In sleeping memory, we dream ourselves into tomorrows, slogging through valleys of despair and wafting on currents of celestial breath at one and the same time. Searching for memory, we watch loved ones lose bits and pieces of their story, lamenting fragments faded long-past sepia and rejoicing in brief flashes of love and cognizance at one and the same time. In memory we hallow special days, honoring so many brave ones who've sacrificed and pushing back against the hell of war's existence at one and the same time. Resurrecting memory, we weave a sacred response to grace's unfettered gift, lamenting all the times it steadily swirls around us unnoticed and praising Yahweh for the glimpses convincing us to dive in headlong at one and the same time. By memory we were and are and will continue to be held, when we've forgotten all and when we’ve remembered scarcely enough at one and the same time. Memory: our deepest curse and richest blessing at one and the same time. © 2017 Todd Jenkins
We are a people of scars, neither guaranteed protection nor escape from pain's slice and consequences. But we are also created for healing; not healing whose visibility or consequences vanish; people who are found by a forgiveness that debrides our wounds, rinsing away anger, malice, resentment, and vengeance, disinfecting them with grace, packing them with mercy; people whose flesh falls back together, not in seamless invisibility, but rough, bumpy reminders of our past; people who somehow find the courage to seek catharsis in our history's telling; people whose hearts are forever being pointed toward the true north of hope. Yes, this is who we are; not perfected but blemished, not fearless but courageous, not arrived but journeying; journeying together. © 2017 Todd Jenkins
Painting by Rosalind Golden Saline
Surely light years beyond wildest hopes and deepest imaginations, he is raised, not just from the tomb, but also from the debasing of mocking, the torture of scourging, and the excruciating execution of crucifixion. Was his appearance nearly incognito because of the impossibility of it all, or because transcending death alters persona far beyond human fathomability? Perhaps it was both. His face, tilted skyward, eyes closed, no longer in agony, now in serenity. His skin at one and the same time ashen, yet fully thrushed with life; its shading defies ethnocentric limitations. His lips, resting in a fashion best-described as tranquility. Completely antithetical to terrestrial powers that sought his demise via violence, his presence exudes a gentleness only love can elicit; right hand lowered and open, both revealing a lack of animosity and weaponry, and clearly displaying still-fresh wounds, beckoning us toward our own deepest healing; his left hand pointing heavenward, living water flowing from it, new life springing up from a parched desert floor; light bursting from above, revealing creation’s eternally-held dream. Last, but also perhaps first, the robe; swirling transfiguration's glow with stone-rolling angel's ensemble; but even those two foreshadowings are inadequate descriptions of its hope-infused cloud. Sit with the elements; letting life's river wash over you, divine wind swirl your heart, and corpus of unconditional love carry you into the grace of each tomorrow's resurrection. © 2017 Todd Jenkins
Photo by Anne Shurley
So many stories surrounded with 'splainin’ on all sides, to help us engage senses, mind, and spirit; historical and geographic settings, names and titles, details galore. Did you ever notice how little detail is provided for the gospel accounts of resurrection? How the women arrive in the garden – always the women – with their minds set on one thing, when their hearts are taken aback both by the presence of angels and the absence of a body? How no one – neither narrator nor character nor angel – wastes any ink or breath to tell us how? Nothing but active verb in present tense. He IS risen. That's what we need to know. From there, we follow, letting the IS of resurrection bring us straightforward into the world's active presence. Metaphor and poetry may be the heart of our God-speak, as no vocabulary or alphabet are capable of capturing the divine self; but faith's foundational eruption from the tomb simply IS. © 2017 Todd Jenkins
Matthew’s gospel has a whole lot of quaking going on. I want you to think about this quaking. Why is it here in the story? What does it mean?
27:50-53 …&……. 28:2
Sometimes it takes a little quaking to get us out of our ruts and our comfort zones, but our quaking differs considerably from God’s. Power’s shaking can’t hold a candle to love’s quaking.
I was going to race to the tomb, but the women beat me to it. I would have tried to roll away the stone, but the angel-quake took care of that. I might have raced to tell the rest of the disciples, assuming I wasn't among them, behind locked doors, quaking with fear. The problem is that most of these opportunities are 2,000+ years gone.
Here’s the question I think both supersedes and surpasses our fascination with “Some bright morning, when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away.” It’s this:
“In the big scheme of things, if death doesn’t have the last word, what does this change about life?” That is, “What difference does resurrection make in your and my here & now?”
28:7 The great hope & promise of resurrection is “he is going ahead of you”. Where would we be willing to go, what would we be willing do to, and who would we be willing to become if we really believed that he is still going ahead of us?
28:8 Resurrection sets us free from having to be God & from the burden of keeping ourselves alive. THAT’s the bizarre combination of “fear and great joy” that the women feel as they leave to keep moving toward the place to which the risen Christ is calling them.
This Easter, I'm praying for the courage to set aside all the shoulda, coulda, and wouldas of my life. Then, the only things left to do are to: look for him among the living; & reflect his light into the pain, suffering, and grief of others; & believe I'm forgiven so I can practice forgiving others; & step aside so grace can expand into the places I'd rather it didn't; & share my broken-hearted love in broken ways, with other broken people; & take a pinch of bread and a sip of wine, believing that sacraments make him real in ways beyond my fathoming; & practice the laying on of ears, listening to both the entombing and the untombing stories of others. & finally, to breathe – just breathe – when I cannot muster the wherewithal to do anything else; This is what I'll do, trusting it will be enough. Yes, the reality of resurrection comes to pass, not just "Some bright morning, when this life is o'er..." but also each day in the here and now; not by my own acts or righteousness, but by the love of God in, through, and around us all. Easter’s quake keeps trembling, raising the hair on your arm and the back of your neck, raising hope in your heart, raising your capacity for compassion, raising you and I to levels of love we’ve never imagined. By the grace of God, Easter's not our burden to prove. It's our gift to live. © 2017 Todd Jenkins
Photo by Deb Kruger
In some ways, it's an off-the-grid path showing up where the trust highway fades into the night. You move forward, feeling your way through the woods, because standing still or going back are unacceptable options; hoping against hope there's somewhere worth going, someone worth finding, or someone who's already found you; hoping you'll eventually get there. All the while, the wind whispers through the trees, as you strain your ears, begging to hear your name, or a plausible facsimile thereof. Sometimes you're desperate enough to change your name to whatever sounds the waving branches make, with their dysrhythmic clack-clacking. Other times, you pick up your name, clear as a bell, just like the last time a loved one stood on a moonlit porch and gathered you in by casting your multisyllabic pattern into the wind. Somewhere beyond this forest lies a place and time you've only visited in your heart; a place that must be home, because nothing else could hold you under a spell of such mystery and magnetism. This – all of this – and then some more that you'll figure out along the way, is what we call faith. © 2017 Todd Jenkins
The journey of faith is the return to the blank screen and the C-prompt. It is here, after we have endured and then set aside all the formatting of social, cultural, and egotistical influences, that we are ready to perceive and be acted upon by the divine coder of all creation. © 2017 Todd Jenkins
In consideration of hatred, fear, xenophobia, and division for personal or political gain, it's easy to sit back and speculate, "What would you do?" Once speculation has not only left the station, but also disembarked from multiple platforms, the only question worth asking is, "What AM I DOING?" Present participles are the only engines worth putting on this track. © 2017 Todd Jenkins
Far beyond a failure to protect them, intentional massacre is heinousness in the highest degree. How frightened do you have to be to declare all babies two years-old and younger acceptable collateral damage for your political aspirations and narcissistic ego? It's easy to condemn Herod for his atrocity. What's more difficult is admitting our own complicity in failing to leverage our privilege and power to provide basic dignity for today's children; for lumping innocents with those who've hijacked religion for violent political purposes so we can justify keeping them, not just at manger's-length, but exiled to places worse than Pharaoh's Egypt. Lord, have mercy, not just on our souls, but on our hearts and the lives of children everywhere. © 2016 Todd Jenkins
The shortest day leads to the longest night. This goes without saying, except when you need to say it. When the phone rings, and your doctor's number appears on the caller-ID, it's not magic, but it is the news you've been waiting for and the news you've dreaded, all rolled into one. All these years you've held others' hands, both literally and metaphorically, while they walked their own valleys of winter solstice. You thought you knew what they felt, but now you wonder. It's the gentlest winter of all, not just because of climate change, but because of the flickering phraseology: one of the slowest growing forms; early detection; treatable; high probability of cure. The seasons help keep it in perspective; their rhythm, a sort of breathing: spring, summer, fall, and now. The image is coming into focus. Beneath the snow, rotting leaves, and chilled tundra, the roots are resting; getting ready for their own cotillion. Light's absence is no deterrent for those who are determined to dance. I think I hear music. I know I see light. © 2016 Todd Jenkins