Friday, November 29, 2013

Map

How these letters, spaces
and punctuation marks form themselves
into something remotely intelligible,
and possibly hopeful
has always been a mystery.

We can feel it much better
than explain it.
At bare places where pain
and suffering have stripped
all sense of entitlement and control,
there is a swath cut through the jungle.

We don't need a map
to remember the way.
Each time we hear stories
of a remotely similar journey
by another person,
our hearts take that path again.

Somewhere along the way,
our brains join the trip,
sometimes abducted, others willingly.

As we near that familiar clearing,
the fog lifts, and we remember
the most powerful promise of Divine:
it is not protection, or power, but presence.

This is the gift that opens vocal chords
and directs fingertips to keyboard,
steadying us all in our naked places of hurt,
casting a flicker of grace upon our darkness.

Photo by Todd Jenkins


© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Long Water

Clean water, pure water
more and more each day.
Coming soon to your place?
We're gonna find a way!

God's plan, our goal;
partnerships galore.
Education, filtering,
producing more and more.

A plan for operation,
so it can be maintained;
with God's help and grace
all will be sustained.

Bottle after bottle,
friend after friend,
let clean water flow
everywhere without end!

Photo from Miriam Mazariegos


© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Thanksgiving

Like many regularly scheduled celebrations,
trappings have a way of obscuring
our view of the original purpose,
both when they are present
and when they are absent.

It’s not the food, certainly
not about retail competition
with others to acquire more,

not about stressing to create
a magazine-cover atmosphere,
not even about trying to make
everyone else get along.

It’s about pausing…
to breathe, look, and recognize
that you are surrounded
with relationships and connections

with the potential
to reveal the purpose
behind the universe’s great mystery:

you are a beloved child of God
whose name is known and spoken
regularly in the heavens;
your unique brokenness,
both accepted and held together by grace;

love, the gift that escapes
through the cracks, spanning eternity,
when forgiveness is carved and shared abundantly.

Photo by Lee Lindsey McKinney

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Monday, November 25, 2013

Knock, Knock, Knockin’…

Photo by Todd Jenkins

My hope is built
on nothing less
than grace and Christ,
whom I confess.

I expect I’ll find out
the full scope of heaven’s
list of invitees when I get there,
and not a minute sooner.

My life isn't really focused
on getting to heaven or identifying
its additional inhabitants,

but rather on living
with Christ-like humility
and grace moment by moment.


© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Heartbeat

(Genesis 18)

Picture Abraham under the Oaks of Mamre,
slipping in and out of the consciousness
of an after-lunch nap, enjoying
the blessed shade of the trees
and security of his tent.

The visitors startle, but
do not frighten him.
His reaction, shaped by more than
twenty years as a sojourner,
is one of reverence – maybe even worship.

His urgency and generosity
are driven by his guests’ need,
not by concern for their opinion of him.

Well aware of the distance between
his own well and the next, he realizes
the life-giving nature of the water he offers.
There is no debate, no calculation of deserving;
only the recognition of a basic need.

Does he know the identity of his guests?
Would this impact the bounds of hospitality?
Shape-shifter that he’s always been,
he might have figured it out by now.
Whether he understands it or not,
hospitality is a lot like exercise.

We may begin it because we know
it’s the thing we’re supposed to do,
but in the end, offering clean, cool water
to a sister and brother in need,
fundamentally and forever
changes the way our hearts beat.

Photo by Todd Jenkins


© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Meant

The words spoken were,
"I don't know if I can
make it through this!"

The words I heard
whispered were, "You
may not be able to make it

through this in the way
you wanted or  expected,
in the way your persona
dreams of making it through,

but you are very capable
of making it through
in the way you were meant to.

When you get farther
down the road, you will understand
and appreciate the difference." 

Photo by Todd Jenkins


© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Monday, November 18, 2013

Distribution

Each breath, thought, word, step, act
is an act of distribution.
Some are completely self-centered;
others reach more broadly.

Ultimate denial comes when
we convince ourselves that the aggregate
of our own distributions
is beyond the arc of history's examination.

We may not be able 
to undo the past, but we are 
certainly capable of imagining
a more hopeful future.

Existence is a window of opportunity
for rebuilding our lives into relationships
that need less repair today than yesterday;
connections that feed the world's deep need today. 

Photo by Todd Jenkins


© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Defining Moments

We're sorry if your definitions
of essential and affordable
are different from ours;
if the things you can't provide for yourself
can't be lived without.

You should have thought about that
before you chose to be born into
your family, culture, and socioeconomic class.

Those of us who chose more wisely
can afford to imagine that we don't
need much help at all.

Law is tilted in favor of the haves,
because the more you have,
the more you need;

but there comes a point when we notice
that others are getting things
from government that we already have,
even things we've gotten "on our own".

That's when we opt for politics,
knowing that we'll get to decide
what's in the line and who isn't.

After a while, we begin to believe
that some people aren't really people at all;
that God loves those who can help themselves
and everybody else is just lazy.

As gratitude and humility evaporate,
they leave a hazy crust of greed and hubris,
through which we can neither
see nor feel our neighbor.

We are left to our own devices,
looking down with contempt,
and up with envy, skewed beyond recognition
to the universe's parallel nature.
God help us!

Photo by Jennie Roberts Jenkins

© 2013 Todd Jenkins


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Real

More than the neurotransmission
of pain impulses between body and brain,
what connects us to reality's depth

is an awareness of both experience
and response from sojourners
along time's interactive continuum.

The Velveteen Rabbit knows well
what it takes to embed us
in the here and now: love expressed.

Solace comes with similar stories
from the past; connection,
from people in the present;
hope, a memory of the future.

 
Photo by Todd Jenkins

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Veterans

Photo by Kally Thompson Elliott

Remembering is how we learn,
how we connect,
how we honor, O God.

As Veterans’ Day approaches,
may our memories be filled
with these things:

gratitude for those who
trained for war, traveled to battle,
served with body, mind, and spirit,
and returned with their lives;

appreciation for the sacrifices
that soldiers and their families make
in order to serve and protect;

respect for the toll that war takes
on body, mind, and spirit,
not only in the trenches and bunkers,
but also in the home, street,
office, classroom, and social setting;

amazement for the way some are able
to overcome war’s lingering demons;
understanding for those who cannot
shake the images, thoughts,
and emotional train-wrecks of war
that have removed from them
all hope of finding normal again.

Give us courage to honor those
who have served, as well as wisdom
to recognize that war is not a path
that leads to your promises.

Instill in us, O Lord, a hunger for justice,
a thirst for righteousness,
and a craving for honesty
that opens our eyes, ears,
and hearts to a higher road;

a road that refuses to settle
for violence, fear, and hate;
a road that is neither easy nor simple,
but one that takes us
on an arduous journey toward
the mountain of your shalom;

a road where peace replaces cease-fire,
where bullets are molded into plowshares
and bombs into pruning hooks.


© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wed

(Luke 20:27-38)

Three show up to participate
in the observance
of a relationship built on love:

God, from whom love flows
like a rain-swelled, spring stream;
two people who pledge their lives
toward this gift and to one another.

Others may come to observe
this milestone’s marking, or not.
Beyond the three, we can only bear witness,
and help call attention to the broken ways
we betroth ourselves to be open
and receptive to this giving and receiving.

Covenant is the word God used
to describe the lopsided yoking
of divine and human partners
in relationships  rooted in deep places
that only one partner can reach.

We cleave to one another
with all that is within us,
fully recognizing that our
holding pales in comparison
to God’s binding us together.

May you find yourselves,
more days than not, and
never too far in-between,
leaning hard against the pile
of grace left at your door,
forgiving one another
as God forgives you;
searching for and celebrating
the love that blossoms from your union.

Photo by Todd Jenkins


© 2013 Todd Jenkins

Monday, November 4, 2013

Terror


Photo by Todd Jenkins

It’s a personal experience
in which fear is escalated
to unimaginable levels.

Its perpetrators must not be
allowed to define it.
That task can  fall only
to those who are consumed.

Opposite of "peace that passes understanding",
it is "angst that shatters all connection".
We cannot simply add "ism" to it
and get to decide who wears its label.

Dehumanization in any form
manifests terror, even and especially when
it is sanctioned by law or religion,
including our own.

Only the vigilance of honesty, humility,
and humanity will give us vision
to unclench its suffocating grip.

© 2013 Todd Jenkins