Respecting the awesome power of words!

Posts tagged “self-examination

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
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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

Beclowned

IMG_3731Photo by Owen Todd Jenkins

 

When the circus
  comes to town,
    reality takes a holiday
      and many fantasize,
    even in the midst
  of their own despair,
about a perfect world.

The next day,
  we all wake up
  and face the gallows
of authenticity,

challenged by a world
  immersed in
    and fueled by
      the flesh and blood
        of those whose labor
          has been consumed
        with limited
      or no remuneration,
    solely to generate profit
  for those roosted
in the highest branches.

The noose swings
  menacingly from the tree,
    marking the metronome
      of privilege, oblivious
      to the flesh and blood
    of all who will suffer most
  from the invisibility
of this lynching.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins


GEM

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        He said, “God is
        a Good Enough Mother.”
        Then he ‘splained:

      A GEM gives birth to you,
      nurtures you, protects you,
      and makes you the center
      of her universe until
      you start learning how
      to take care of yourself.

    This begins somewhere
    between the ages of 2 and 3. 
    This is where a GEM’s focus
    and methods change.

  Now, she must help you see
  that you are NOT the center
  of ANY universe, but you are
  connected to other people
  and all of creation,
  and she teaches you
  that you exist to care
  for the world and ALL its people;
  that you will find existential meaning
  in becoming a nurturer, yourself;

that making other people’s lives better
will bring you far greater joy
than using them to make
your life easier, more comfortable,
and more secure;

that you will more fully
comprehend love
when you can both
voluntarily give yourself
for others and allow yourself,
in vulnerability, to be helped,
not by those you coerce,
but by those
who choose to help you.

  If we’ve never made it past
  believing we are
  the center of the universe,
  we cannot stomach anyone
  who won’t go to any length
  to make us look and feel divine.

    We are still holed-up in Eden,
    munching the hell out of
    the fruit of the tree
    of the knowledge of good and evil,
    completely ignoring the reality
    in front of our faces,
    and firmly convinced
    that the serpent was right —
    consuming this fruit
    has made us gods!

      We’ll half-heartedly inhabit lives
      of noisy desperation, stumbling
      from one litigation to another,
      never having the courage
      to admit we ever
      did anything wrong.

        As long as we’re never made
        to see our connection
        to the rest of the universe,
        we’ll continue to rewrite reality
        to fit our own needs.

      We need to cultivate a lot more
      GoodEnough Mothers
      who’ll help us realize
      the universe doesn’t spin
      on our axis.

          We have enough serpents;
          too many, even.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Tanked

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I've had my life
         flash before my eyes
          on rare occasions.

Far more frequent
   and disturbing,
               though much more subtle,
                however, are the ways
                      life slowly evaporates,
                day by day,

like water in
       an open cistern
            in an arid clime.

I have this inner conviction
       that there are people somewhere,
  maybe even everywhere,
who are hoping
                   to have their souls quenched,
                     and our lives could be part
                      of what fills their cups,
                 if only we don’t
                           dry up and drift away.

Maybe it's just me,
        but silence, wilderness,
           reflection, and writing
                are what fuels the rain
                           that keeps my reservoir full,

and I need them all
       more often these days.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Control

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    We crave it,
  whether we admit it
or not;

      especially when
    we’ve lost it
  for too much
of our lives.

          Love is about
        risking the relinquishment of it
      to someone we hope
    will set aside self
  long enough to unlock
the mystery of relationship

        in ways that allow us
      to rise above
    self-condemnation
  toward the mysterious
whisper of grace.

    Once this feline’s murmur
  has been unleashed,
all bets are off.

    This is the only neighborhood
  in which we can learn
to relax and let go.

      We pray, O Lord,
    to find even
  a small place available;
a fixer-upper will do;

        where we can begin
      the gentle task
    of allowing ourselves
  to be rehabilitated
by grace and forgiveness,

      into a dwelling capable
    of reflecting light
  into the dark corners
of both self and others.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Race

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    It's really just a contest
    to see who can arrive faster
    or with more support;

  so when we shoehorn it
  into biology, we're often
  escalating the competition,
  by declaring superiority
  of one group over another.

Suffixing imaginary genetic match
with "ism" isn't always about
old fashioned hate spewed
in the light of day.

  Sometimes it's much more subtle:
  an unspoken framework
  for socioeconomic and cultural mores
  tilting everything in favor
  of predetermined medalists.

    We don't have to ask for it
    or even recognize it
    to be complicit.

  All we have to do
  is deny or ignore it.

It will march on,
grinding unchosen ones
into dust, while anesthetizing
the rest to seductive
and powerful privilege.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Exorcism

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It seems to me that
  the evil of possessions —
    whether it be money, property,
    power, privilege, or something else — 
    is not that we own them,
    but that in the very act
  of our ownership,
two subliminal things happen:

(1) our ownership,
  when reflected
    in the public sphere,
  tends to generate a sense of scarcity,
rather than abundance; and

  (2) our possessions, then,
  become our possessors.

That is how the appearance
  of even one or two human creatures
    (Yeah, we have a way
    of dehumanizing them,
  don’t we?)
can trigger a full-scale anxiety attack.

That’s when our possessing possessions
  begin to whisper to us,
    “You know, we’re not unlimited,
    and if you start sharing us,
    before you know it,
    the tables will be flipped —
    you never know who’ll overturn them —
    and you’ll become
    the vile creature yourself;
  and you know no one will share
any of us with you, then.”

  Sneaky little twits, aren’t they?

© 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