Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Looking Glass

Photo by Lee Lindsey McKinney

Once we identify the image 
in the mirror 
as the single common denominator 
in all our problems, 
all our relationships, 
and all our stories, 

as well as the only person, place, 
or thing over which we have 
even an illusion of control, 
we have found the beginning point 
for healthy relationships. 

The next step requires putting down 
the looking glass and giving ourselves 
to make a difference 
in someone else's life; 

neither offering to fix, advise, 
or change them, nor pretending 
to be or do anything more or less 
than who we really are and that 
of which we're truly capable. 

Don't wait for perfection or 
understanding to begin, 
and do not demand either of these 
in yourself or others along the way. 

Lead with your heart, 
and let grace map 
each step of the way. 
Today is always a new day 
in each journey. 

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Short

One of the churches I drive past regularly on my way to and from work recently had this message on its sign: 

Time is short,
hell is hot. 
Jesus is coming,
ready or not. 

The sign's sentiments seem to indicate:
(1) an attempt to scare heaven into passersby; and
(2) our religious-cultural generation's focus on securing an individual spot in a divinely favored afterlife. 

In my experience, you can scare the hell out of people, at least briefly, but heaven - or more significantly, love - cannot be instilled by fear, even for a little while. 

When fear of afterlife outcomes becomes the starting point and the focus, at the expense of living the grace of Jesus Christ in the here and now, congregations and institutional religion will continue to decline. The church that nurtures faith in the long run will be the one that offers hope and grace to a world of people who have been declared unacceptable by a culture of judgment and competition. 

My sign would offer this alternative:

Life is short, 
live what you've got. 
Grace abounds,
 noticed or not. 

© 2016 Todd Jenkins
Old Stone Fort Archaeological Park
Manchester, TN

Monday, June 20, 2016

River


Shall we cry you a river
  with the tears of our angst
    over our continued refusal
      to put Mother Earth
      and her life-blood
    on equal footing
  with exploitative
economic enterprises?

The collective lament
  of those who recognize
    our systemic rape
    and plunder of creation
  cannot restore,and may not
ameliorate this abuse,


but cheek’s glistening trail
  can remind us all
    of the universe's plaintive call
  to tread gently, leaving
ego, fear, and greed behind,

thinking long-range,
  recognizing and living
    our interdependence.
  Will it be enough?
Will we listen?

© 2016 Todd Jenkins


Monday, June 13, 2016

For you

Photo by Becky Johnson

Here we gather,
nothing like a museum
for the righteous, but
rather, a healing place
for those in search of grace.

   Here we rise,
   joining our voices
   with a long line of dreamers,
   cairn-stacking narratives
   of resurrection against
   a sea of indifference,
   hoping against hope
   that love will win.

Here we go,
sent out into
valleys of despair,
reflecting the forgiveness
we have received,
wrapping the whole world
in the gentleness with which
we've been covered.

         Here we are,
         for you.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

eNEMY



In our interpersonal lives
we are constantly creating conflict
as well as being drawn
into conflict created by others.

  Exacerbation occurs when blindness,
  ego, denial, and indifference
  cause each of us to blame the other,
  refusing both responsibility and
  engagement in remediation.

    When this sort of behavior
    is practiced on a societal
    or international level,
    we are directly participating
    in the creation and escalation
    of our own enemies,
    whether our differences are
    political, economic, or other.

  As long as weaponization
  and violence are both our initial
  and primary tools for interaction,
  there will be no peace
  and no amelioration.


We'll either have to detonate
all the weapons and
outlive all the warmongers, or
genuinely commit ourselves
to something more magnanimous
before there'll be hope
for a different outcome.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Within


The gift and miracle
of Emmaus is not disappearance,
but presence; not road presence
or table presence,
which were temporary,
but presence internal and eternal.

  The physical Christ of conversation –
  the material messiah of flesh-and-blood –
  is no longer with us, because he is in us.

    Eucharist is our regular reminder
    of this gift; our invitation
    to re-member – to reconfirm
    our membership –
    into the body of Christ.

      © 2016 Todd Jenkins


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Bedrock

Old Stone Fort Archaeological Park
Manchester, TN

We need to uncreate the world
  that desires more for less,
    no matter the cost
      to planet and other people;

        the world that has profit
      as its bottom line, and
    views the rest of creation
  as a means to the ends
of accumulation and consumption.

My hunch and experience are
  that most of us can
    only see this necessity
      clearly in the context
        of our profound brokenness.

      Grace, love, and
    our deepest interconnection
  are most visible when all
of our faux identities crumble.

If the rest of the world is going
  to recognize and hunger for this,
    we, as a community of believers,
      must become sentinels of hope
    instead of wagging fingers of judgment,
  fountains of grace, rather
than fires of condemnation.

        We must confess our own
      shambled lives and live
    from a foundation of grace
  before God's mercy will ever
ring true for the world. 


© 2016 Todd Jenkins