Saturday, April 27, 2013

Tough and Tender

He wanted you to think he was tough,
and spoke his mind whether
anyone cared to listen or not.

Yet, beneath that armored exterior
lay a vulnerable soul simply desiring
and struggling to love and be loved;

but as afraid as the rest of us
that the immutable requirement
and byproduct of knowing
and truly being known
would somehow nullify that love.

He was as thirsty for grace as any of us
on our most parched days and,
likewise as susceptible
to its surprising and unbidden
overflowing on unpredictable occasions.

Cheers and thanks be to God
for those times and places,
people and spaces where
unassuming love shone through
between and around us, in spite of ourselves;

and especially for the way
our remembering the illuminating glow
of those lightning flashes,
to this day and into the future,
still lifts us above our own doubt
and self-loathing, up into
the merciful arms of hope.

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

In memory of Louis Strickland Roberts II


I'm beginning to understand why
generations overlap, running two and three deep
before the baton of life's relay is finally passed.

It's more than the need for continuity
and the passing of history,
though these have their place.

One of the critical purposes
of imbricating generations is for mulligans.
Our "handling" of the
immediately succeeding generation
is always fraught with the foibles
we inherited from our own parents.

We push and pull too hard,
holding to demanding standards,
in hopes that our own shortcomings
will somehow be ameliorated.

But it is too late when we realize
that we have mostly repeated history
 and, more importantly, that
we have missed far too many
opportunities to celebrate life.

And then we get a second chance
with great nieces and nephews,
grandchildren and, if genetics
and circumstances intersect serendipitously,
maybe even an additional generation.

It's not just a softening or weakness
of old age that fortifies our gentleness,
as so many assume, but also
a long-in-the-tooth premonition
that grace is both
the final question and its answer.

May we acquire this holy grail
in sufficient supply
 to replant the tender shoot
torn from our youth by well-meaning parents;
and also find wisdom to recognize,
in the waning tenderness of our own twilight,
not just forgiveness for self and others,
but also hope beyond imagining.

 In such an awakening,
resurrection looms as bright
and grace-filled as
the most amazing Easter sunrise.

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Friday, April 26, 2013


Faith is the single hope,
both fearful and magnetically compelling,
calling us beyond the spiraling vortex of destruction
that places self at the center of the universe.

Centering, then, is about
recognizing other at creation's core,
and finding joy in the weaving
of self into the periphery.

For it is at the outer bounds
that our orbit finds its intended purpose
in interaction with others.     

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Monday, April 22, 2013

Furniture Talk

When the feng shui of my drama-cile
doesn't accommodate furniture
from yours, let us neither
curl all-but index digits in accusation
nor pitch vocal chords to escalation.

May we find room and time, instead,
to sit with grace upon a porch swing
overlooking our own lives' valley,
allowing the sun to set and rise upon us
as we, together, quilt a slip-cover from
the patchwork of our shared story.

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Holy Hoarding

Reeling from a loss both real
and imagined, trumped-up and palpable,
she clutches programs and possessions,
discarding connections and relationships,
sure of only two things:

everything in the past was better;
nothing in the future will be as worthy;
not because she is shallow or selfish,
but because pain is so disorienting,
that her grieving heart cannot
fathom surviving another loss.

As the publications and furniture pile up,
space for her children diminishes.
History's inventory and cataloging
have become a consuming fire;
room at the table shrinks.

Stacking stones against a sea
of change, not seeing that all mortar
is a futile attempt to capture freedom,
and rigidity leaves no room for beauty or
for tide to sweep us toward the Universe;
avoiding the deeps where grace
shines as the only path toward hope.

Who knew that her groom's absence
would expose such vulnerability?
Whose idea was it to send
unpredictable sister in his stead?

Don't think for a minute
that you will do any better.
Pray for the day when
the whole family comes back;

not to indulge her for
another holiday ritual
whose power has faded
like old Polaroids in the sun,
as method is mistaken for message;

but to profess undying love
and wholehearted commitment
to yard sales, until there is room
for all generations at the table,
so bread and wine may once again
seal water's covenant blessing.

Until that dawning arrives,
hopeful sister-in-law hovers heart to heart,
fanning long-gray coals with truth
that time and space cannot contain.

She is our mother, our sister.
She is our church.

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Prayer Warriors abound,
but for Prayer Poets we plead.
Death's stench is all around;
showers of silence we need.

Give us the space at the table
for old words to be re-shaped
into new shelters capable

of storying unimaginable horror
into, not only breath for today,

but hope for tomorrow.

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Monday, April 15, 2013


Why is it, O God, that we
find ourselves mired in
the swamp of emotionally
charged hyperbole when
our culture's most violent practices
 surface in the headlines?

Is it the very nature of blood-lust
to amp our psychological appetites,
as if we couldn't stomach
its vitriol without the anesthesia
of relentless onslaught?

Deliver us, O Lord,
from the myth that
might makes right;
from the seduction that
crucifixion can be sustained
by more powerful weaponry;
from the illusion that
love is too weak to overcome
all fear, anxiety, and hopelessness.

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hatred as Religion

In the course of
human interconnectedness
there comes a time when
deeply held convictions

must be closely examined,
if for no other reason than
their ability to create enmity.

Messiah was never intended
as a nightstick for pummeling
others into submission.

When religious beliefs are
politically, publicly pursued
to the point of creating hostile environs
for those believing otherwise,

we are no longer a nation
of religious freedom,
but of religious hatred.

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Hatred is the hell that kills
a little more of you each day,
leaving less of you for Joy to find.

Fear is the anxiety that prevents
Hope from getting out of bed
in the morning and getting dressed.

Guilt is the stuffing that suffocates
the future and anesthetizes the present
by refusing to let go of the past.

Love is the relationship that expands
Joy in you when you dare to give it away.
Trust is the foundation on which Hope operates.

Grace is today's path toward tomorrow
cut and cleared by another's gift.
Choose each day which you will accompany.
Leave the others behind.

© 2013 Todd Jenkins