Respecting the awesome power of words!

Posts tagged “self-examination

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
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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

 


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

Labor of Love

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I want what I deserve...
  but I also want to decide
    who else is and isn't deserving.

Is that too much to ask;
  to be labor, management,
    and maybe even God,
      all rolled into one?

It sounds so much worse
  when we say it out loud
    than when we practice it
      in our own hearts,
        doesn't it?

And the vineyard owner asks,
  (Matthew 20:15)
  "Am I not allowed to do 
      what I choose 
      with what belongs to me? 
      Or are you envious 
      because I am generous?" 

Grace: it's bigger
  than we hoped;
    which will turn out
      to be good news
      when we get
      to the heart
      of the matter
      and the heart
      of all that matters.

Until then, it's like a stream
  of water flowing through
    a barren land,
    carving out a beautiful valley
    and smoothing the jagged edges
    of fear, assumption, and judgment
    by which we are constantly
    injuring ourselves and others.

Let it flow,
  dear Lord,
    let it flow!

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Be

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Esse quam videri –
 literally, “To be,
rather than to seem.”
is the North Carolina state motto.

It has also been translated,
“Be who you are.”

If ever there was
a “be and not just seem” one,
it was God-with-skin-on
from Nazareth,
whose parents named him “Jesus.”

I spent most
(okay, pretty much ALL)
of my first 30 years focused
on proving other people wrong.

That is, when someone said,
“You can’t/don’t know
how to do that.”
(because you’re left-handed,
too small/weak, young,
from a small town,
not educated enough, etc.),
I set out to prove them wrong.

Even though I became
quite adept at this,
one day, I realized
my life choices were based,
not on any inner sense
of purpose or drive,
but merely on competing
against the expectations of others.

I’ve spent the last 28+ years
learning to let go
of that need to prove
my enoughness to anyone,
including myself.

Wilderness, whether it’s mountains,
lakes, desert, or somewhere else,
is a place where the taunting voices
can most fully be shed,

giving me ears to hear
and heart to focus
on my own breath,

and helping me recognize
where and how my own worth
is validated, not in
the meeting or defeating
of others’ expectations,

but through the defining
and developing of self
in mutually healthful
service to the world.

Thanks be to God!

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Yes and No

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Let your word be 
‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; 
anything more than this 
comes from the evil one. 
(Matthew 5:37)

Say yes to the rhythm
of your marrow;
yes to walking deliberately;
yes to listening attentively;

yes to considering prayerfully;
yes to speaking gently;
yes to acting compassionately;
yes to holding tenderly;

and as these yeses unfold
into the world,
you will find the wisdom,
strength, and courage
to say no;

no to division;
no to fear;
no to othering;
no to assuming;
no to hoarding;
no to hurrying;
no to spontaneously reacting;
no to violence;
no to abusing;
no to anesthetizing.

Learn the way of yes,
and the way of no
will follow close behind.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins