Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Dugout

Photo by Lee Lindsey McKinney

 We hold one another's pain
   as close as we are able –
      as near as we dare –

         scratching through the pile
      of cooled ashes
   from fires long-spent
in the canoe’s bottom,

      searching for warm embers
   capable of hollowing
a deeper resting place for suffering,

   praying that our proximity and
      desire to sit low in the boat
         will carry us safely through
      the river's winding shadows,
   from the headwaters of sorrow
toward the ocean of hope.


© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Without Measurability

1 Corinthians 12:31b
"... and I will show you 
a still more excellent way." 
(a way without measurability)


Agape is a single-source phenomenon.
Apart from the gift and self of God,
it does not exist.

This kind of love is not spontaneous
or emotional reciprocity
for what someone else has done
for you or to you to make you
feel comfortable or happy.

It is a conscious choice to put
someone else's well-being
ahead of your own,
even and especially when
it is difficult and painful for you to do;

a choice made, not for the sake
of gaining anything for yourself,
but made because you know
that you were put here,
in this specific time, place, and circumstance,
to give other people
a chance to recognize godness within;

a choice made, not by the strength
of your own power or goodness,
but by the gift and grace of divine outpouring.

As long as we're earthbound,
we'll never be able
to love anyone, including ourselves,
fully, completely, or unconditionally.

Why?
Because we are not God.

What, then, are we to do?
This, and this alone:
love as freely and fully as we can,
each day, and seek to love more
each day than the day before.

Do it without measurability,
for this is the true character of agape.


© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Windows


What if the door I believed
   I was escorted through
      with engraved priority invitation

turns out to actually be the same
   jagged-glass-rimmed basement window
      that I've been zealously guarding
   all this time, as if my job
was to keep out the unchosen?

What if I found out
   the mansion was larger
   than I could even imagine,
and the party has already started?

What if grace really is Grace?

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Depressbyterians


I don’t mean to exclude any of you who faith from a different place. I just couldn’t resist the word-play. My phone’s autocorrect changed the title to "depress uterine." I don't even know how to respond to that, except to laugh, which is seldom a bad thing, when it’s genuine and about yourself.


The other day, a friend reminded me
that creativity – in writing or otherwise –
doesn’t come from the darkness itself,

but from the power to struggle
against the clouds,
whether that power comes
from within or without.

   That resonates with me,
   like the lowest note
   from an organ pipe,
   vibrating floor, wall, furniture,
   and everyone in the room.

      I suspect we’re all a little more
      acquainted with depression
      than we'd like to be.

         I know that my writing is therapy
         for just such deeps.
         Some of what I write will probably
         never be seen by others.

      Those would be
      the darker pieces that seem
      to blow out life’s brief candle.

But even some of those go out
to you on occasion,
as echoes in the dark;
tappings on the cell wall,

just to let you know that,
even though I've yet
to find a candle to light,
at least we're not alone.

   We have each other and,
   I am certain at the deepest level –
   even if not always on the surface –
   the sacred is also always here,
   even when all tapping fades,
   and all we sense is the beating
   of our own hearts.

      You are here. I am here.
      The holy one is here.
      Gathered or not,
      the three of us form

         our own trinity,
         our own incarnation,
         out of which life, light, and
         grace will surely take root.

“And now faith, hope, 
and love abide, these three; 
and the greatest of these is love.” 
(1 Corinthians 13:13)

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Love's Path


Did he wait for you 
as a long-lost friend 
with his tail a-wag
and his eyes aglow? 
Did he bear your pain 
time and time again? 
Your hands in his fur, 
that was grace, you know? 

Canine scent will linger, 
not just in your house, 
but will fill your heart also. 

You'll hear sounds 
that remind you of him; 
see bits and pieces 
still hanging around. 

My prayer is that the tears 
these memories evoke 
are made of both 
the water of sorrow 
and the salt of joy, 
that you may be buoyed 
across the ocean of love. 

Grass gave way on the path he trod, 
faithfully marking a trail, 
of the unconditional love of God 
that cannot and will not fail. 


© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Monday, January 18, 2016

Follow

Photo by Lee Lindsey McKinney

"Where is the church?"
I asked, not to a particular person,
but to my heart.

   After listening for
   what seemed like forever,
   I started feeling answers in my marrow.

      "You can find it anywhere;
      sometimes hidden under layers
      of institutional ought, or
      floating free and simple
      in any group that knows
      it's on the way."

      "Wait," I interrupt
      the orthopedic oracle,
      "what do you mean by
      'on the way'?"

   "When people get tired
   of living empty lives –
   tired of filling their existential ache
   with things and rules –  
   they often feel a narrative
   deep in their bones;

a story inviting them not
to moral or conclusion,
but to journey;
not so much to convert the world
as to practice surfing
grace’s tide upon its beaches. 


© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Reduction

Photo by Jennie Roberts Jenkins

Grace is a compassionate combustion 
of love and hope, 
providing a constant warmth, 
evaporating the fear,
anxiety, and condemnation—

both of self and other – 
by which our individual selves, 
our interpersonal relationships, 
and our whole world  
have been diluted and polluted. 

Its gentle flame awakens spices
and scents interwoven
throughout our spiritual DNA,
freeing us to a life of rich reduction,
infusing the world around us
with essence of the divine. 


© 2016 Todd Jenkins