Respecting the awesome power of words!

Posts tagged “humanity

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
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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

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

Neighborhood

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The universe is a neighborhood
into which we've been poured.

Fear convinces us to shrink,
control, protect, and gate our lives.

Grace welcomes us to expand,
release, free, and open ourselves to love.

The former choice leads
to the creation of enemies and despair;
the latter, to the creation
of neighbors and hope.

To whose invitation
are you responding today?
How's that working out for you?

When people are used
and things are loved,
we become tight-fisted
possessives of our possessions,
and our fearful exclamation is,
"There goes the neighborhood!"

When people are loved
and things are used,
we are able to become gently-holding
stewards of possessions,
and our joyful exclamation is,
"Here comes our neighbor!"

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Prophetic Courage

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Without separation
  and distance,
  truth will not
be spoken to power.

When the church’s bread
  is buttered by empire,
  the gospel’s call
    to interconnection
    with those at and
  beyond the margins
  is lost,
as are the church
and its members:

🎼I once was found
  but now I’m lost;
  could see, but now
    I’m blind.
    Dear Lord, help me
  to count the cost;
  prophetic
courage find!🎼

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Lamb

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Grace can be
as gentle as a lamb,
especially when
it is holding
the fragments
of human brokenness;

but it is not always
a Kumbaya-fest,
especially for those of us
who imagine ourselves
on the upper end
of our social, cultural,
economic, and theological
systems and institutions.

Within its gentleness
lies an equally-present
tenacious insistence
on justice — especially
on behalf of those
on and beyond the margins — 
without concern
for the maintenance
or preservation
of privilege, power,
or possessions.

The gentle giant
will not be denied.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Acts of the Apostles

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When all the xenophobic ooze
has been pressure washed
from beneath the rocks
where it hid for generations
and swept off the streets
where it has surfaced,
there will come a reckoning.

We can’t just stand by,
silent, while all this hate
and fear foments.

We must act
with integrity and courage.

 Here are some
of the questions
that are being asked:

What happened
to our elected officials?
What happened
to our families of faith?

Unless we act decisively
and immediately, our faces,
our names, our reputations
will go down as ones
who sold out our country
and its people.

Is this the way
we want history
to remember us?

Is this the seed
God planted
in our hearts?

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Plowed Deep

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Education is a long-haul plow
  set deep and pulled meticulously
    through many fields,

some scattered thick with rocks,
  some rich with earthy humus,

some as thin and stripped
  as shed snake skin,

all tended equally
  with the care of one
    who dreams
      of bumper crops
        in every silo.

Despite what modernity proclaims,
  the shallow seeds it plants
  in multiple-choice gardens —

like quickly sprouting grass
  in measured rows
    of paper cups
      lining the window sill —

            are insignificant when held
            against the space it creates
         for other roots to one day plunge
            toward the aquifer of love
             in search of nourishment
                  for the flower
             of peaceful coexistence,
                  and the fruit
          of shared respect and dignity.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins