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Posts tagged “prayer

Bite by Bite

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The way I hear it,
  the elephant’s great desire
    is to be consumed,
    bite by bite,
  gray, wrinkled skin chewed,
one mouthful at a time.

Here’s a fire,
  offered from a distance,
    merely hoping
    to keep darkness
  at bay
until the sun rises again:

O flinger of both
  nighttime’s stars
    and daytime’s ball of fire,
  show us the love
of divine presence;

both in the light of day,
  as well as
    midnight’s deepest shadows,
    that we may find
  steadfast and stalwart comfort
in your tenacious presence.

Give medical professionals
  the capacity to strike a match
    into our shadowed existence,
  through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins
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Prostrate Psalm

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Here we lay, prostrate —
  not because it’s our choice —
  but because the kick
    in the gut
    of this teenager’s suicide
    has knee-capped
    our expectations of reality,
  and our dreams
  of how it’s supposed to be.

Cower, with our lips
  in the dirt,
  or crane our necks
    toward starless heavens,
    seem to be our only options.

If it’s all the same with you,
  O one whose claims
  to fame include
    the entirety
    of the cosmos’s creation,
    I think we’ll grovel
    for a while,
    grinding our teeth
    against the grit
  of what might have been —
  what could have been.

After our molars
  have been worn down,
  long in the tooth on grief,
    when we once again
    find the emotional wherewithal
  to turn our spirits
  toward the heavens,

we pray you’ll hold us
  in your strong but tender palm,
  opening to us
    the vast universe of hope,
    undergirding us
  with the fabric of love,
  washing our tear-stained cheeks
  from the fountain of grace.

If you won’t do that,
  don’t bother to attempt
  anything else.

Selah.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Unfolding

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Photo by Gay Jenkins Howell

 

    We cast our prayers,
    O God, toward
    the bank of the river
    that seems most solid,
    most under control;

   and then earth shakes,
   and water surges,
   swirling us toward
   unstable stacks
   of unknowns
   and uncontrollables.

  Give us courage
  to float toward
  whatever happens,
  confident in your
  in-the-flesh promise
  to be present
  to and with us
  no matter what unfolds.

 These, and all prayers,
 we offer in the name
 of God-with-skin-on,
 Jesus, the Christ. Amen.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins


Full Flow

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Greed is total surrender
to the fear that,
despite today’s sufficiency,
tomorrow will leave us resourceless;
and therefore,
too much is never enough.

It’s a frenetic piling-on
creating utter breathlessness.

We are (meaning “I am,
and I invite you
to confess your complicity.”)
slow to recognize
that the ability
to tightly hold things
with our tiny hands and
the small part
of our mind and soul
that value such grasping,
is the greatest impediment
to accepting all that for which
God has created us.

Hope is the antidote,
as holy respiration,
allowing us to breathe
deeply and slowly,
palms upturned and open,
so that more of who we’re
meant to be can settle on us,
even wash over us.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Prayer

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    As I watched video from a group
   of people offering a vitriolic prayer
  for violent success in their
imminent encounter with others
  who were identified as different,
   I contemplated the definition
    and purpose of such supplication.

  Perhaps the only thing we can say
 for certain about prayer is that
it is a petition offered on a level
 other than the realm
  in which we physically function.

  It can be a request for self-validation,
a plea for deliverance,
  or many things in-between.

  It might be offered
to the creator of the universe,
a deity of our own construction,
  or an unknown entity.

   We all do it, and probably
  more often than we realize;
sometimes with prescribed
  forms of hope, and other times
   with generic invocations of desperation.

To say that ours have been answered
is to lay claim to their recipient’s legitimacy.

  It seems to me that the genuine mettle
of our god surfaces, however,
not when results coincide
  with our requests, but when they don’t.

  Who and where is your god
when your petitions disappear
  into the abyss of the unrequited?

  There, in the vulnerable nakedness
of “No.” or “Not yet.”,
there remains the possibility
  of divine presence or absence.

    If you find yourself,
   in the deepest darkness,
  convinced that you’re walking alone,
you might want to consider
a different way of sensing,
  an alternate trajectory
   for your pleas and praise,
    or both.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Blood Ash

26

 

I didn’t want to say
the words this year.

“You are dust, and
to dust you shall return.”
kept asking
to be transposed
with something more honest,
like, “You were
in high school this morning,
future slowly unfolding;
but now your blood
is pooled on the ground,
your organs motionless,
your body lifeless,
your family screaming
a caustic cocktail
of rage and grief,
cameras intruding
like uninhibited perverts.”

How dare we regurgitate
a vacuous litany
propped up on
flimsy thoughts and prayers!

If we can’t be honest,
and say we’re not willing
to change anything
to slow the parade
of body bags,
then we need
to just keep our
damn mouths shut,
hunkered down
behind the walls
of our callous indifference.

Who will compose
a liturgy of lament?

Who will sit in this bend
of hell’s river,
sieve net in hand,
scooping the shrapnel-torn fragments
of hope as they drift
toward the abyss?

Answer me!

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


May Our Prayers Rise to Meet You

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Our prayers rise on your behalf,
lifting you into the presence
of the Great Physician:

Behold your precious child, O God;
one created in your image
and filled with your reflection.

Grant that the medical team
may continue to act with wisdom,
compassion, and understanding,
so that the journey along the
road to recovery may be
bearable and dotted
with respites and oases
giving breathing room.

Grant an awakening each day
with enough courage
to climb out of bed,
enough strength
to shuffle forward,
and enough hope
to lift eyes to the rising sun.

Grant that caretakers and family
may discern when to push
and when to hold,
when to cry
and when to laugh,
when to speak
and when to sit in silence.

These and all prayers we waft
in the name of him whose robe hem
sparkled with life itself,
Jesus the Christ. Amen.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins


Commitment

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Photo by DeEtta Harris Jenkins

 

    I’d offer you a fluffy basketful
   of thoughts and prayers,
  but I’m pretty sure
 you’ve had a bate
of shallow nothingness.

     I’d offer you
    unfettered second amendment
   and total gun confiscation,
  but I can tell
 we’ve all suffered enough
from artificial binary limitations.

     I’d offer you
    religious extremism
   and mental illness,
  but it seems like
 there’s already a glut
of selective blame and projection.

  In digging through
 the closet, in search
of something else to offer,

   there, at the back,
  I find an old table
 and lots of chairs,
all covered with cobwebs.

  Let’s take them out,
 dust them off,
and all pull up a seat.

   Let’s leave the bank accounts
  and the campaign contributions
 at home,
and have a genuine discussion

     about who needs what
    and how to make changes
   that’ll significantly slow down
  the filling up of cemeteries
 with the bullet-riddled bodies
of our loved ones.

    Let’s let everyone
   have a say,
  and then commit ourselves
 to making this a safer place
to live together.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Foundations

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More than a dozen years ago, as a friend’s dad faced chemotherapy, I envisioned and wrote about this scene:

 

I see him standing
on a stormy beach.
It is a place
he’s been before.

The waves are tall,
strong, and fast.
Sand is washing out
from under his feet.
Anxiety is, understandably,
rising with the tide.

I also see a strong,
enormous hand scooping him up
and holding him safely.

Where the receding sand
washed away,
large foundation stones
are moved into place.

The cornerstone has
a familiar look and scent;
the look of compassion
and the scent of love.

When the foundation is secure,
the protective hand sets him
back down onto the rocks.

May Christ be for you all,
and may he give you each
the hope, strength,
and courage to be
for one another,
pillars of hope and
foundations of comfort
during the raging storm
of chemotherapy.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Intercession

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For a weakened  heart
  we intercede, O Lord.
    May it be like electricity
    in an old house,
    steadily pumping current,
    whether all the wires
  are firmly connected
or not.

For fragile lungs
  we intercede, O breath
    of wind and spirit.
    May they function like
    an HVAC system
    of an historic structure,
  pumping air, in spite
of cracked and leaky ductwork.

For struggling kidneys,
  we intercede, O God.
    May they be like plumbing
    in a long-lived-in home,
   steadfastly moving water and waste,
  despite occasionally-leaking
joints and fixtures.

Keep this house
  in order, O holy one,
    with all the wisdom, compassion,
    and understanding that
    the medical community can bluster,
    while we pray with all
  the hope we can muster.
Amen.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins