Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hope's Leaning


Closing prayer for 
Columbia Theological Seminary's 
Alumni/ae Luncheon

O God, we know that 
nostalgia plants glory 
in the past, convincing us 
that dragging ourselves 
from the present, 
back toward yesterday, 
is the only hope our future 
could possibly hold. 

We also know that 
such rearward focus
precludes the possibility 
that you could, in any way,
bring a new gift to bear
that is capable of 
holding a candle 
to our sepia memories. 

But when history bubbles 
from the bottom up, 
where nostalgia is outed 
as a suffocating blanket 
of oppressive violence,
hope becomes a future 
toward which you 
are dreaming us. 

Dream on, O God. 
Dream until 
your dreams come true! 
Amen. 

© 2015 Todd Jenkins

Breathtaking

Beauty, when it is
revealed and understood –
through nature or when
one soul reveals love to or
accepts love from another –

is so expansive that,
to the timid, it can seem
explosive – maybe even frightening.

But when we release ourselves –
our lives and our hearts –
to its fullness, there is no stopping
the grace that it reflects into,
onto, and through our lives.


© 2015 Todd Jenkins


Monday, April 20, 2015

Dreams

Don’t be confused about
the differences between
grace and enabling.

Aiding and abetting someone
toward a shrinking life
of being not only less
than she or he
was created for, but also

cement-shoed into a miserable
and fearful existential addiction,
has little gracious tint to it at all.
 

Grace is a healthful, hope-filled soul
standing beside you in the swamp,
singing songs of mercy,
painting pictures of forgiveness,

telling love stories, and taking your hand
as, together, you both walk
into the promises of today,
toward the dreams of tomorrow.

Her hand may not always be taken,
but she is not capable of ceasing
her holy serenade, even if its lyrics
utterly fail to be comprehended
this side of earth’s and sky’s edge.
Photo by Lee Lindsey McKinney


© 2015 Todd Jenkins

Friday, April 17, 2015

Fire

To toy with words is
to risk uttering incantations
beyond understanding.

It is to expose writer
and reader alike
to mysteries beyond fathoms;

maybe even scorching bystanders
who’ve neglected
to stuff their ears
with unholy cotton.

Once the shapes and spaces
of narrative and poetic familiarity
are uncorked in new
and precarious ways,
all bets are off as to
the fires that will be set.

Many a story or verse
has inexplicably mainlined
from eye or ear directly to heart,
forever changing, not just
the original readers,
but the universe itself
from the inside out.


© 2015 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Blooming


I went to a graveside funeral four days after a winter storm coated the entire mid-state of Tennessee with snow and ice. All along the drive to the cemetery, there were still small piles of unmelted snow, both where parking lots had been scraped and cleared, as well as in the shadows of trees and houses. This kind of weather is an unusual occurrence for our part of the country.

As I stood behind the graveside tent with the gathered congregation, listening to the resurrection being proclaimed by family, clergy, and soloist, I happened to look down at the grave marker I was standing near. There, against the cold gray granite, a single, tiny flower had bloomed. I looked all around me and these tiny flowers were everywhere.

I thought to myself, “Four days ago, this ground was under an inch of ice and, now, this flower is blooming. Resurrection is like that, conjuring life, by God’s grace, out of death’s icy grip.”

Carry on, not in despair and helplessness, but in the hope and promise of resurrection.

© 2015 Todd Jenkins

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Free Religion

Whining about creation's diversity,
as it is expressed in both culture and religion,
convinces us that any restraint
required is actually oppression
or even attack on our own religion.

In fact, forbearance is the necessary expression
of a society that values religious freedom.
What would it be like to live in circumstances
where our religion was a small minority,
and religious freedom wasn't supported?

Myopic tendencies convince us
that freedom and intolerance can coexist,
but  being called to exercise religious restraint
in order that others may experience religious freedom,
reminds us that many of our European forebears
left their homelands to settle here
for this, among other reasons.

When tempted to believe
that one religion – ours, of course –
is the only one that government
needs to tolerate, we need reminding
that culture and society will thrive
with a shared vision of hope and love
much better than it will by
the forced practice of a single religion.
 
Photo by Lee Lindsey McKinney

© 2015 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Lifeberg


One of the surprise awakenings
of the spiritual journey
is the realization that,
as human beings, we have
some commonalities with icebergs.

Ego is the part of us that sits
above the water line.
Soul is the ginormous part
below the surface.

Though it is easier to identify
the portion in the air, and we spend
tremendous amounts of energy
trying to navigate by that part,

it is the massive submersion –
the soul – that is designed,
from jump-street,
to plot our course.


© 2015 Todd Jenkins