Take up your cross

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.
                  —Mark 8.34

God of love, be in me
to embody your gentleness and grace,
to love at my own cost,
to enter the suffering of the world,
to hold the wounded in my heart,
to bear the monstrous without explanation,
to absorb the pain without retaliation,
to let there be a hell on earth
without another,
to trust that even the greatest evil
cannot drive you out,
and that love and forgiveness alone
will change the world.
Grant me faith to be willing
to be overwhelmed
and raised again.
I do not ask for heroic strength
but for you
to bear the cross in me,
that by your Spirit in me
I may be Christ,
crucified,
and risen,
no longer small,
no longer threatened,
no longer afraid.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at)gmail.com

February 25, 2015  Leave a comment

Warmth

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         You did not ignore the affliction of the afflicted;
                  you did not overlook me,
                  but heard when I cried out to you.
         You are the source of my joy
                  as I stand here in all Creation.
         I will sing to you among creatures

                  to whom you give life.
                           —Psalm 22.23-24

On my walk this morning it was fifteen degrees below zero. (I know you folks in Australia and South Africa don’t have to deal with this, but bear with me.) Being warm blooded, our warmth comes from within. In this kind of cold you think ahead about that warmth, and how to protect it out there. You think about every square inch of your body, and if something comes undone you fix it.

So it is with my spiritual warmth. God radiates from within me, miraculously, like the warmth of my own body, and I want to pay attention to every square inch of that grace, honor it deeply, receive it fully, and share it freely. Keeping habits of prayer and compassion are not obligations I’m burdened with in Lent: they’re ways to tend to the stewardship of my warmth. What do I do—what will I do today—to protect the warmth of my soul?

I take time to behold. I turn away from relying on external things to warm my soul—possessions, reputation, comforts, power. I let go of things that sap my warmth— anger, resentment, competition, judgment and worry. I attend to God fully in prayer and all day long in mindfulness. And when my mindfulness comes undone, I bundle up in God again. God gives me the luxurious warmth of heaven itself, burning within me. I don’t want to ignore or squander it. So I pay attention, and treasure it, so that I can bear warmth to those who are cold, even in Adelaide.
         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at)gmail.com

February 24, 2015  Leave a comment

Love and not love

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      

         He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan.

                  —Mark 1.12
                  

The light of the desert reaches down
into the crevices of the rocks,
can tell stone from shadow.

Holy One,
may I see myself with the eyes of love,
see clearly what in me is love
and what is not love.

Heal my fear,
forgive me wholly,
and hearten me
to choose well,
to step wisely.

         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at)gmail.com

February 23, 2015  Leave a comment

Wild beasts

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan;
         and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

                  —Mark 1.12-13
                  
Someone left the trail and showshoed off through the woods and over the frozen marsh. They took a curious, wandering path, often cutting oddly close to bushes instead of around them, taking funny little detours as they circled the marsh. I followed the trail. For several days I hiked the circuit. I wondered what those people were thinking— but I liked how whimsical it was.

Then one morning I saw the prints of a fox in the path, all the way around. And it hit me: the fox was not following our path; we had followed his. I was following obediently in the daily route of a wild animal.

I usually am. I follow the leadings of all kinds of “wild beasts”— inner urges, fears, habits and desires that I’m not aware of. They themselves are not evil; but mindlessly following them, I wander away from God and do hurtful things.

The path is not laid out for me. I have to chose it. This Lenten journey with Jesus in the desert, the journey of repentance, is not self-punishment. It’s self-awareness. It’s recognizing the wild beasts that influence me, and being intentional about the path I choose, listening for the voice of the Divine and following that instead of my random urges.

The fox is a beautiful being, a creature of God. And I will follow his trail again tomorrow morning. But that path is not the way home.

         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at)gmail.com

February 20, 2015  Leave a comment

Where the wild things are

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.    
         He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan;
         and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

                  —Mark 1.12-13

Spirit,
drive me out
into my solitude,
my desolations,
my discomfort.

Set me down
among the wild beasts,
fears and hungers
pawing around inside me.

Put me at peace with them,
not the master but the saved,
the one to be tamed,
to listen to them,
lie down among them,
and go my way,
returned
to my feral innocence.

They will roam my wilderness,
I will learn their eyes,
I will live differently.

Among them,
who also answer,
are angels who attend
to those who wander there
so that we will.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

_____________________________________________________

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at)gmail.com

February 19, 2015  Leave a comment

Snow and ashes

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      

This snow, deep but fine like ash
drifting over your sidewalk
will be gone in weeks.
But you shovel it today anyway
because today you need to walk out of your house.
You shovel it while it is snow
before it is regret.

Before it melts
this short life is yours
to choose well with,
what to shovel, what not to shovel.
Hard to do, to put your shoulder
to the work of compassion
when you could stay in.

So many conflicting winds
would drift your life
into ruinous places.
Only the warm energy of life
guides you, carving out
this path and not another.

Mortal,
pause amidst your labors,
and receive the grace you need.

Remember you are snow,
and to snow you shall return.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at)gmail.com

February 18, 2015  Leave a comment

Shriven under

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         
Shrive: to hear a confession;
       to impose penance; to grant absolution.

Shrove Tuesday, our fifth snowstorm
in as many weeks.
In three feet of snow,
plowed shoulder deep beside the roads,
along the driveways,
we confess that we are human,
that we are weary,
the streets lined with quadriplegic cars,
that we are small, dependent, fragile.
The knife wind comes down on us
where we are tender.
We confess our bondage
to the narrow paths we’ve dug,
and keep digging.
Winter swallows our voices, erases speech;
our chanting shovels confess
we are not masters.
The silver sun hears us,
assures us straightening between shovelfuls
that we are not evil,
merely afraid,
and notes how much of our snow
is now in our neighbor’s driveway.
The strangeness so oddly transforming our streets,
the need, the hardship
tempt us inward, swirling winds,
but beckon us to reconcile, to accept,
to bond, to help.
We shovel toward each other.
The crow and the fox
who also shiver bear our absolution:
we too belong, and carry out penance
for being human
in labor and toil.
Shriven under mounds of baptismal white,
we are not judged.
This is not punishment,
just life,
that we must shovel.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at)gmail.com

February 17, 2015  Leave a comment

Shut out

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
        
As new subscribers to the Blizzard of the Week Club we were hit hard enough by the last one that yesterday we held no services at the church building. (Four-foot snowdrifts at the front door, six feet at the back.) But we didn’t cancel worship; we held worship in our homes, united in the Spirit. I was the only one at the church, praying for all our members in their half-submerged houses. And as I did I became increasingly aware of all those who are unable to make it into the holy of holies, who for any reason are shut out. The logical extension of any exclusivity is an empty sanctuary. Heaven with nobody in it.

It’s so easy to stay snug in our little burrows, and to take for granted our inclusion. But we are not whole as a church—we are not whole as the human family— until we are in solidarity with all those who for any reason are excluded. So today I pray for all who are home bound, imprisoned, or homeless; for refugees, for all those who are displaced by war or disaster. I pray for those who are kept out because of who they are—their sexuality, their economic state, their physical condition or abilities, their age or their religion. I pray for those who believe they are just not good enough. I pray for those who are left out of our decision making, kept out of our circles, left out of our stories, all those who are not in the building. Jesus looked at the outcasts, the invisible, the misfits and the scattered, and saw a community. I pray for the coming of the Communion of all Creation.

Pray without ceasing, and put your hands to the shovels of justice. There are deep drifts to clear before everyone can come in, warm and welcome.

         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at)gmail.com

February 17, 2015  Leave a comment

At the master’s feet

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

         
                  
One said prayer
is where you grow wings,
and rise to heaven.

Another said, no, prayer
is where you grow feet and hands,
and serve humbly.

But the angel with beautiful hands
said prayer
is where you grow eyes.
Look.

Then,
not prone to repeat himself,
he said,
Look.

Deep Blessings
Pastor Steve
______________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail
write to me at unfoldinglight (at) gmail.com

February 16, 2015  Leave a comment

Shut out

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
        
As new subscribers to the Blizzard of the Week Club we were hit hard enough by the last one that yesterday we held no services at the church building. (Four-foot snowdrifts at the front door, six feet at the back.) But we didn’t cancel worship; we held worship in our homes, united in the Spirit. I was the only one at the church, praying for all our members in their half-submerged houses. And as I did I became increasingly aware of all those who are unable to make it into the holy of holies, who for any reason are shut out. The logical extension of any exclusivity is an empty sanctuary. Heaven with nobody in it.

It’s so easy to stay snug in our little burrows, and to take for granted our inclusion. But we are not whole as a church—we are not whole as the human family— until we are in solidarity with all those who for any reason are excluded. So today I pray for all who are home bound, imprisoned, or homeless; for refugees, for all those who are displaced by war or disaster. I pray for those who are kept out because of who they are—their sexuality, their economic state, their physical condition or abilities, their age or their religion. I pray for those who believe they are just not good enough. I pray for those who are left out of our decision making, kept out of our circles, left out of our stories, all those who are not in the building. Jesus looked at the outcasts, the invisible, the misfits and the scattered, and saw a community. I pray for the coming of the Communion of all Creation.

Pray without ceasing, and put your hands to the shovels of justice. There are deep drifts to clear before everyone can come in, warm and welcome.

         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

_____________________________________________________

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at)gmail.com

February 16, 2015  Leave a comment

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