Thursday, April 30, 2015

Welcome

When the simple and
straightforward ones arrive,
with their sickle-shaped
sentence-ending punctuation,
asking – even sometimes begging –
for a declarative response,
if not an exclamatory one,
we often go into game-show mode,
swinging for the fences.

Check off a whole list and,
before you know it, you may have
completed a standardized test.


But when the deeps arrive,
plummeting beyond intellect,
to the resting of still waters,
an alternate modus operandi  is required.

Here, flailing toward resolution
is not only futile,
but also counterproductive.

Extend an invitation
for a leisurely tea ceremony,
letting ritual's familiarity make space
for a question to rest in your heart,
unanswered, sans anxiety.

This is a place – both a physical location
and a measure of time –
out of which imaginations are fueled.

Steep yourselves together,
that answers may fall away,
and hope plant her hook-like seed
deep in your heart.

© 2015 Todd Jenkins


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Table

Violence begets violence,
and those who’ve perpetrated it
in the name of decency and order
seldom have grounds to call
for its end when it erupts,
as rage-response, in chaos.

Artwork by Sara Wills

The call for alternative acts
of peaceful demonstrations
must come from underneath:

a prophetic imagining that paints
a picture of hope with voice enough
to call us all back to the table,

where we must share the meal
of our common humanity.
Without this unifying thread
on which to weave our dreams,
the fire will consume us all.

© 2015 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Lord, Have Mercy!

For Nepal, her mothers and fathers,
her siblings and babies, the bodies
suffocated by debris,
all the families who wait and wail,
hoping against hope,
digging against the clock,
praying against rock;
Lord, have mercy!

For Baltimore, raging against the pain,
sinking into mutual inhumanity,
burning hope like chaff,
scrambling into confusion,
psalming into the chaos
for all they're worth,
disbelieving it will be enough;
Lord, have mercy!

For all whose tortured circumstances
merit no news coverage,
whose pain goes unnoticed
or unreported or even excused,
whose rudderless circumstances
create daily panic attacks
and breathless anxiety;
Lord, have mercy!

For us, when we get so caught up
in our own little dramas
that we fail to see the fear
in others' eyes, cannot hear
the pain in others' voices, and gloss
over our neighbor's trauma;
Lord, have mercy!


© 2015 Todd Jenkins

Monday, April 27, 2015

CWU 47 Opening Prayer


It is water that delivers us, O God,
from the day of our birth,
to this very day, and every day in between.

Whether we drove, rode, or flew
to get to Hopewell,
water is why we're here.

Whether we're well-hydrated
or thirsty, water – or its lack –
is the force that has brought us to this place.

Let Camp Hopewell be a sacred wilderness
for us, not because it is in any way
lacking what we need, but because
it is the kind of place where bushes burn
and sandals are removed and we find out
we're standing on holy ground. 


Let it be our wilderness because its proximity
to raw nature offers us the opportunity
to step away from what we know and expect –
especially the double-edged sword of technology –
and rely, instead, on your sufficiency, O Lord.

May our five days together be a time
when water relationships are developed,
so that we might be able to support
and sustain one another throughout
our lifetimes as your water saints.


Give us focus, endurance, and a great sense
of the joy of being a part of your glorious creation,
through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

© 2015 Todd Jenkins


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

Monday, April 13, 2015

Now!


Book 2 is now available. 

A collection of 72 poems/prayers, each accompanied by scripture & full-color pictures for reflection. 

Also includes scriptural index and topical index.

Signed copies available:
$15 (local delivery)
$17 (mailed)

Contact me @
dabar96@gmail.com 

Also available from Amazon

Live

As much as Fear tries
to generate drama and excitement
when he arrives,
he is actually the most
boring party-crasher imaginable.

He has but one song:
a shrinking tune
with a repetitive chorus.

A six-armed beast,
with two hands
over your ears,
two over your eyes,
the final two
over your mouth,

his chorus is this:
If you’ll see no mercy,
hear no grace,
and speak no love,

it’ll feel like you’re completely
in control, and you’ll never
have to do anything
that makes you uncomfortable.

Here’s the thing:
if you let this song woo you
into its deceitful trance,
you won’t have to worry
about dying, ‘cause you’ll never
have a chance to live.
Photo by Holly Jenkins Williams

© 2015 Todd Jenkins

Sunday, April 12, 2015

cHOSEN

Forgive us, O Lord,
for we have chosen sides,
instead of choosing each other;

we have chosen political parties
rather than choosing
to build a healthy nation;

we've chosen to keep score
and chosen to lose stories;
we've chosen to divide ourselves
instead of choosing to be united;

we've chosen to be right
rather than choosing
to be in right relationship;

we have chosen to control
instead of choosing to love;

we've chosen to live
artificial lies rather than
choosing to be inspired by
your organic truth.

we've chosen to live
as if we are the choosers
and not the ones
that you have chosen.

Forgive us, O God,
and do not unchoose us.
 


© 2015 Todd Jenkins

Saturday, April 11, 2015

D&D

When the water runs deep
and the bottom gets rocky,
we need your presence, O God.

Hold us in your steady hand
and keep us upright
and moving toward home.

In the throes of dementia,
when memory becomes
slicker than a muddy river bank,

keep our heads above water,
or at least when we sink,
teach us how to breathe underwater.

Give us courage to face each day
with the fortitude of honesty and hope,
never letting fear generate denial.

This, and all prayers, we offer
in the name of the one
who never forgets to love us.
Amen.


© 2015 Todd Jenkins