Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lent

Now that the March 2012 issue of "Water of Life" is out ( http://livingwatersfortheworld.org/EWater_of_Life_02-12/HTML/eWater.html ), I can share this with you:

 Friends, Romans, Water Saints, “Lent” me your ear… Bad puns and quote-abuse, but a good idea: How might you most effectively use your ears (and the rest of your senses) to prepare to receive the good news of Easter? Let me count the ways.

 I grew up in a 1960s, deep-south congregationalist church that left the pre-Easter preparation of Lent to the Roman Catholics. Discovery of the meaning and value of Lenten discipline has been one of my greatest joys. It’s nothing like I imagined.

 Denying myself something I liked (chocolate, meat, or some other pleasure) never struck me as a desirable path toward understanding the divine. Imagine my delight when I found that this ancient practice is much richer than simple sensory deprivation. Beyond ashes and a reality-check with mortality, Lent offers us a chance to renew one of life’s most valuable resources and attitudes: gratitude.

 Faced with the limits of human finitude, we can despair, or we can celebrate the gift of time that God gives. While it is true that we have no guarantees and no way of knowing how long we will be here, it is even more true that whatever time we are granted should be relished. What would happen if we committed ourselves to a Lenten focus of appreciation for the unending display of God’s gifts and grace with which we are surrounded?

 Start every day with a few minutes of prayer and silence, cataloging a few of the ways you can be alert during the ensuing day to God’s “forgotten rainbows”: sunrise, sunset, the calming sound of moving water, music, art, architectural complexity, mountains, valleys, pets, wildlife... Set your alarm or make appointments throughout the day to pause briefly to review the panorama of creation you’ve seen; anticipate what other beauty will unfold before your day ends.

 End your day with a prayer of gratitude that is breathed, sung, written, or simply replayed in your mind. Think of the person who is either most in need or would be most appreciative of this attitude of gratitude and resolve to share it with them as soon as you can. It is my contention that Easter is a gift that is most deeply received by those who regularly see, touch, smell, hear, and taste resurrection. Use this season of Lent to count yourself among them!

 © 2012 Todd Jenkins

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Winning Grace

“You don’t deserve grace!” reflects a grave misconception. It is the big “Duh!” of life that contains truth in its ignorance. If justice is getting what you deserve and mercy is not getting what you deserve, then grace is receiving what you can scarcely imagine. Grace is like the winning lottery ticket purchased for you. You didn’t ask for the ticket; you didn’t even know that the ticket existed. All you have to do is claim it. To paraphrase Anne Lamott, grace meets you WHEREVER you are, and loves you too much to leave you there. Both the MEETING and the MOVING are bound to grace’s essence. The former without the latter is indifference. The latter alone is a train that continually leaves the station five minutes before you arrive.

 © 2012 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Unsung

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841-1935), Civil War veteran, and 30-year Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, once wrote:  “A few can touch the magic string, and noisy fame is proud to win them. Alas for those that never sing, but die with all their music in them!”

I believe we are all writing our own score and lyrics; all listening to other music; all directing our own movie; all watching other movies; all actors in the same master movie. The universe is a multi-media, multi-dimensional expression of God’s living tapestry.

Don’t get so caught up in your little part that you miss the breathtaking beauty of the whole grand show. Risk speaking more than the lines you write for yourself; dare to learn the songs that require courage to sing! Unsung music, unexpressed love, and unlived grace have no echo from the grave.

© 2012 Todd Jenkins

Monday, February 13, 2012

Today

Don’t miss today’s gifts because you are too attached to your own agenda. Let God show you the important things. Don’t just live this day as if it was your last. Also live it as if it was your first. Live your life anew today: as if there is infinite beauty to absorb, countless opportunities to love, incalculable chances to give, innumerable occasions to receive, and a plethora of people to accept, because all of these are true, and because God put you here to pay attention to the present and enjoy the depth and breadth of every moment.

© 2012 Todd Jenkins 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Faith

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Faith is a journey across time, space, and life; a continual lesson that challenges us to move from holding on to letting go, from the desperate air-clutch of free-falling to the peace and comfort of being held. It questions our assumptions and the validity of our fears. In a culture of consumption, acquisition, and storage, it dares us to experience the transformative grace of productivity, distribution, and restoration. It asks us to risk acting with God’s generosity in a world that refuses to believe that anyone cares about or knows us any more or better than we do ourselves. It is in these selfless moments and acts that we catch joy-filled glimpses of our true nature. Faith is the gift for which we are created, the purpose of our existence, the primal mystery for which our deepest memory longs.

 © 2012 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, February 9, 2012

invented

We are all “invented people.” We invent (and constantly re-invent) ourselves via our associations and accomplishments. We are invented by the stereotypes of others: sometimes put on a pedestal, other times swept out with the trash, occasionally even counted among the ordinary. All of these inventions of self (and others) count for very little in the long run. What really matters is how often and much we are able to recognize, accept, and share the transforming re-invention of God’s grace. Without it, all other attempts at invention are moot. With it, all things are possible, including peace, within and without.

© 2012 Todd Jenkins

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Grandeur

Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary, once said, “The grandeur of Rotarianism is in its future, not its past.” To use the vernacular, “True dat!” It is a truth that holds for societies, as well as for the church. It is a truth that, if forgotten, dooms us to the dank and useless recesses of history’s neglected catacombs. Life and hope emerge from a past that has both wings and a forward looking and moving direction.

 © 2012 Todd Jenkins