Respecting the awesome power of words!

Posts tagged “self-examination

Enough

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To the person for whom
there's never enough,
there's always suspicion
others want your stuff.

The one who is
consumed with greed,
will never be touched
by hunger and need.

If comparison's the game
by which you thrive,
the train of joy
will never arrive.

Look at what you have,
instead of what's lacking;
it’s an important step
to send discontent packing.

Seeing the big picture
is a form of art
that fashions a glad
and generous heart.  

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


They

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They demanded and
even forced your labor,
offering no or little wages.

Silly me; I assured myself
I was doing comparatively well,
and somebody had
to be at the bottom,
mostly glad it wasn't me.

They took your dignity,
with images and cultural narratives
painting you as lesser,
or airbrushing you out
of the picture altogether.

Foolish me; I looked
in the mirror and saw
the right shade and shape,
assuming I still had
shreds of my own remaining.

They kicked you out
by banning and deportation,
as if culture, language, and religion
were legitimate wedges.

Trembling me; I fell
for scapegoating, ignoring
the malignancy
of systemic dis-ease.

They broke your spirit,
kicking you in the gut
with insufficient opportunities,
boot on your throat
with charges of laziness.

Ignorant me; I thought
I could prop mine up
with consumption and dogged pursuit,
not of my dreams, but
of what they told me to desire.

They're here
to steal your soul,
and it slices through my own,
clearly awakening me
to our eternal tether.

Now, I realize I've been
a part of "they" all along,
with my blind eye,
my silence, my privilege,
my vested interest votes.

Maybe we can't go back,
but I know that,
wherever we must go from here,
it will have to be together.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

KOD

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The kiss of death (KOD)
only cost 30 pieces of silver
back in the day,
but it was intimate.

Today's KOD can be
so impersonal,
dropped from above,
droned from afar.

But let's be clear:
these measurements
we're kicking around
come from the top of the heap –
the green side of the grass.

From below, the price
is an altogether different unilateral;
it is ultimate –
not once-and-for-all,
but once-and-nevermore.

What do you suppose
resurrection will look like now?

John 11:50 You do not understand 
that it is better for you to have 
one man die for the people 
than to have the whole nation destroyed. 
(high priest Caiaphas)

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Pursuit

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In the end, as in the beginning,
and every place and time
in between, God refuses
to accept our rejection;

both our personal distancing,
and our sociocultural writhing away.

We are divinely desired,
and we will always be
sought by the sacred.

It is the uniqueness
of this seeking that makes it
both confounding and compelling
at one and the same time.

We have experience and metrics
for a whole host of stalkings,
all of which are unyielding
and often even violent;

but the steadfast pursuit
of unconditional love is
another creature altogether.

It is aromatic breath
from the depths
of the darkest places
into which we flee
or are pulled;

not necessarily the scent
of a sweet dessert
to which we are irresistibly drawn;

more like a mysterious fusion
of spices and herbs
gently tickling our olfactory imagination
in places we never knew
sensation could exist,
wondering us toward a depth
both haunting and hopeful.

Pay attention to your nose
because, when it comes
to paths toward the holy,
it knows.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Collateral

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Photo by Owen Jenkins

 

The word means
“standing side by side” and
“descended from the same stock 
but of a different line.”

Do you remember a time
when this word could
stand on its own,

when it wasn’t nearly
suffixed with “damage”,
as if we couldn’t fathom
connotations in a different universe?

Maybe in the banking industry,
where it takes money
to make money;
and you can’t qualify
for a loan unless you can prove
that you’ve already got enough
to not need it in the first place.

We have warped
the word collateral,
using it regularly
to excuse the extermination
of people we are not quite
willing to stand beside,
whose DNA we have declared
is not human; but maybe

we are the ones
who’ve lost our humanity
one noose, one injection,
one massive surge of electricity,
one drone mission, one baseball bat,
one wall, one border patrol,
one round of ammunition at a time.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Anger River

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Old Stone Fort (Manchester, TN)

Anger River is sourced
from three primary tributaries:
plans gone awry,
predictability thrown out the window,
and control dismantled.

It doesn't matter whether
these creeks flow
through the mirror or
the magnifying glass,
the outcome is the same:

a raging torrent sweeping away
all hope of mercy, forgiveness,
and especially, love.

Sometimes, you just need
to struggle to the shore,
sit in the sun until
your clothes are dry,
and choose to wade
into another creek.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Innocents

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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

Twins

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We are all, metaphorically,
separated identical twins,
spending our whole lives looking
for a mirrored connection and
a rhythm that defines who we are.

We seldom recognize it
in those who are other,
mostly because we can't even
recognize ourselves in the mirror,

so deluded and confused are we
by all of the identities
that culture has laid upon us,

and those which burst
from our hearts in spite
of our attempt
at cover-up and denial.

It is the divine,
the incarnate one,
who mirrors that twinning
most perfectly, and we
are given glimpses of that daily,
in the face of our neighbors;

especially in the faces
of those to whom
we'd like to not be kin.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Holey

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"Holy, Holy, Holy!"
is a declaration
about divine character.

Our song? Maybe
it's more like,
"Holey, Holey, Wholly!"

We are tempted,
by culture's competency
and competition,
to leave the holey parts
of ourselves at home
or locked in the trunk

when we gather
as a community of faith,
thereby removing our
shadowed selves
from the redeeming power
of confession,
forgiveness, and grace.

Rest assured, the only way
to wholly become the beings
for which we were created,
is to bring all of our holey selves
to the holy table.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Born on Third

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Photo by Hannah McCulloch

Here’s a throwback from June of 2013 that still seems quite relevant.

(Living the American Dream)

I must have hit a triple,
'cause here I am on third.
Of course I wasn't born here;
that whole idea's absurd!

   Daddy is the umpire,
   mama cooks the books;
   but isn't that the way
   everybody's life looks?

      It's true what they say,
      "It's lonely at the top."
      When all your views are down,
      it's really hard to stop.

   I've got more stuff than friends;
   that doesn't really matter.
   It's hard to let your guard down
   when your wallet's getting fatter.

One day I'm going to slow down
and be that kind of guy
people want to hang with;
for now I'm kind of shy.

   I worry what they're thinking
   about the things I say,
   and whether they will judge me
   or try to take my pay.

      It's hard to feel normal
      when you're such a special guy.
      I do my best to fake it;
      I'm usually pretty sly.

   Tried ordinary once
   but then I got burned.
   No one would acknowledge
   the luxuries I'd earned.

It's nice here on third;
I'm such a go-getter.
When I steal home,
it'll be even better!

© 2013 Todd Jenkins