Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Photo by Elizabeth Lovelace Wisenbaker

The Bible is a diverse collection
   of documents, written
      by faithful people over
         a long period of time.

By the grace of God,
   its original words –
      some filtered through centuries
         of oral transmission,

then centuries more
   of scribal recording –
      have been translated
         into many languages
      so that people can hear and
   be inspired in familiar dialect.

Perhaps the single constant
   throughout scripture’s history,
      its present form, and
         its future formation,
      is the church’s insistence and
   reliance upon the very self of God –
by way of the Holy Spirit –

to guide our reading,
   interpretation, and application
      of it into both the physical location
         and the moment in time
      of our current human existence.

Both the allowance and
   the necessity of this guidance
      form the foundation
         for our understanding
      of this text as “Living Word”
   to and for the world.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Saturday, March 26, 2016


The unicorns did not come
to rescue me today
as I had hoped.

Earth and sky did not rend,
ushering me into
a mother's tender embrace.

The tears I've collected
did not turn into a potion
whisking my pain away.

The darkness I found
inside my eyelids did not
remove the quilt of dread
laying heavy on my heart,

so I went to sit
with someone else
whose pain I felt
from a distance;

a pain so different from mine,
I could hardly believe
it shared a common thread.

As we sat, letting all
but silence fall away,
something larger but lighter
settled in and around us;

something uncomfortable
in its familiarity,
so close was it that, at first,
intimacy tilted toward intimidation.

Time rolled on, though neither
of us could discern its flow,
until our anxiety grew tired
of keeping guard,

finally standing down,
so our being known unfolded
into a sense of knowing
that had no desire
to keep score;

a horse content to graze
in the pasture of now,
neither pining for fields
long plowed under,
nor leaning hard into the fence
holding tomorrow at bay.

It was here that rhythm settled in,
heartbeats slow but strong,
breaths deep and long.

This is the vigil we keep,
though the longer we keep it,
the more we feel it keeping us.

No longer fearing
the sun's failure to rise,
we face the shrouded east
with a power so strong yet tender,

it can be no other
than the self of love,
in whom the roots
of hope are firmly grounded.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Hope Floats

Photo by Lee Lindsey McKinney

Memory and love have a way
of pulling us into
the rabbit hole of regret,
wishing for a do-over of circumstances
beyond our control.

We can almost convince ourselves
that, if we’d only said or done
something different, or maybe
shut up or done nothing,
we wouldn’t be treading water
in this gaping maw of loss.

Hope is forward momentum,
a life preserver tossed overboard,
or a random piece of flotsam,
buoying love toward the possibility
of an unknown shore – a coast
we didn’t know existed until now.

It’s not at all the paradise
we’ve spent our lives dreaming –
the one where plans come to fruition
and, at the very least, everyone survives.

Our prayer for you today is that
you’ll hold all the memories –
both beauty and pain,
as well as the mundane  –
despite their penchant
for weighing you down;

that you’ll let hope drift you
toward a distant landfall –
a place where windows and
doors long-locked, are opened,
and the sun rises each day,
promising possibility in the face
of a sea of exhaustion.

Hope floats; and our prayer
is that you’ll float with it,
as we float beside you.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Saturday, March 12, 2016

3 Tribes

When we reach the proverbial Pearly Gates –
obviously in the afterlife, as all humor assures us –
there will be at least three primary tribal cable cars,
and a pile of folks who can't make up
their minds about which one to board.

  The first car has stops labeled
  "Golden Paved Parkway",
  "Holy Harp Highway", and
  "Rulekeeper's Road".
The folks who race to a seat on this car –
ones you couldn't peel out with a pry bar –
are sure they're going to the mountaintop.

  They seem to have an incredulous
  facial expression, as if they can't believe
  some of the folks they've known for years
  are actually here with them.

I wonder if they might actually be stopping
back at kindergarten to learn rudimentary grace:
hold hands when crossing the street;
share what you have;
listen so you can learn;
forgive as you've been forgiven.

  The second car is hesitantly boarded
  by folks who aren't entirely convinced
  they should have been let through the gates.

They're looking over their shoulders
for a bouncer, sure that the ruse
will be up any minute.

  The stops on this car are labeled
  "Caboose AVE",
  "Skin of Teeth Street", and
  "Last Minute Reprieve LN".

These folks are convinced they're headed
for the Roach Trap Motel,
if not the Servants Headquarters.

  I think they might actually be headed
  for a big party - one thrown especially
  and specifically for each of them,
  where they'll see their own name
  written in the Lamb's Book of Life
  in the ink of love and the font of grace.

The third car doesn't really look like
it's on tracks that are going anywhere,
but the folks who are boarding it
don't seem to be concerned.

  They seem perfectly content to exit
  at stops labeled "Here Now HWY",
  "Leisurely Listening LN",
  and "Enough AVE".

If it looks like these people feel at home –
like they're natives - it's probably
because they realized long ago,
when the pretense and the pretending
fell away and they decided to live
a life of passion and abandon,
that both eternity and paradise
are present throughout our lives,
and not just a prize to try
and earn or fear losing.

  I want to be in the third car,
  but sometimes I find myself
  in one of the other two.
  How about you?

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Candles in the Wind

Advent's candles start afresh,
adding more light each week
as our hemisphere sinks
into winter's pall.

By the time we begin
the big celebration,
all four pillars of flame
surround the Christ Candle. 

Lent is a great reversal;
seven lit candles shining
into winter's night,
promising hope still,
but fading, one by one,
as the weeks progress,
foreshadowing Jerusalem's blindness. 

   Soon after the palms are waved,
   the only fire in many hearts
   is fueled by fear,
   generating little light and
   much destructive heat.

      "Hosanna!" so easily morphs
      into "Give us Barabbas!"
      and then "Crucify him!" 

         This anger outlasts the day,
         carrying its vitriol deep
         into the night,
         leaving the vigil
         in heavy shadows. 

Still, we hope into the depths,
motionless against the silence;
waiting for at least one sun to rise. 

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Monday, March 7, 2016

Loose Heart

Photo by DeEtta Harris Jenkins

"Loose lips sink ships."
the spy's handbook warns.

   What do loose hearts do?
   Do they sink things,
   or perhaps keep them afloat?

      I've seen what hard hearts do,
      and even cold ones,
      swung like a sling-blade
      along the dirt-road easement
      of someone’s life,
      knee-capping dreams
      and those free-spirited plants
      we call weeds.

But a loose heart,
a soft heart,
a warm heart?

   It’s one that has figured out how
   to crack without becoming broken,
   to give without being taken,
   to love without being consumed.

      A loose heart is a permeable heart,
      neither keeping all things out
      nor holding all things in;
a risky business indeed,
but precisely the kind of fibrillation
to which the gospel calls us.

   The loose heart gives because it beats,
   cracks because that’s how
   love leaks out and seeps back in.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, March 3, 2016


When your worldview
has fear as its foundation,
   your economic forecast
   will be calculated
   on greed and selfishness,

      your social schema
      concocted on separatism,
         your cultural construct
         woven by  exceptionalism,
your religious dogma
defined by exclusion.

   Hope is the antidote.
      She's the only one
      who can plant generosity,
      community, respect, appreciation,
   and inclusion in the garden
   of our individual
   and collective hearts.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins