“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
                            —Mark 4.38

But we are perishing.
That night on the lake they lived,
and later, as always, perished.

A living being perishes and falls
past death, and so past the fear of death,
to the peace of the forest floor,
where sunlight comes only a handful at a time,
the kingdom of the salamanders.
Worms and bugs and fungi reach up to the dead
and draw them down into the realm of life.
The teeth of transformation,
the gut of resurrection, have their way.
The choir of rakers and suckers and chewers
receive the offering, and the song of renewal goes on.

The memories you hold and those
you have created for others, all you have done,
fall to the sea bottom where the priests of transfiguration
take and bless and break the host
and distribute it to the congregation of the living.
We are not given to know
the memories of the perished that we bear,
but we bear them.

Stars know this, and rivers, and saints, and mushrooms:
that all is surrendered,
and all is gathered in beauty.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Asleep on the cushion

              The boat was already being swamped.
              But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.
                            —Mark 4.37-38

Despite the panic you do not panic.
In my anxiety you don’t engage, but are asleep,

not just calm, but out like a baby,
as if rocked.

As if even in turbulence you are rocked
in your mother’s arms,

secure in a greater peace,
trusting in a grace deeper than the sea.

Beloved, lay yourself down
in the little boat of my worries,

in my storms, with your peace,
your trust that all is in God,

the boat and the storm alike,
rocked by grace.

You are the boat of my confidence,
the cushion for my worried soul.

Even in the most frightening tempest
you are with me; my inward storm is calmed.

Salvation is more than merely ease or safety,
but to be with you, to go on with you or to drown with you.

Jesus, in your boat, together, storm or calm,
in you I am at peace.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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We tend to measure our freedom
by how we are treated—
how others allow us to be free.

But the measure of our truest freedom
is in how free we are
to allow others to be free.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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I stoop to greet you in the woods,
grateful that you didn’t hop away,
and for a while we gaze at each other—
like lovers, I wish, though it is not likely mutual.
I admire your greenness, your stillness, your body
that seems made of all elbows and knees,
yet full of grace. I ponder your being,
being here— the bugs that have fed you,
the fox and the great blue heron you have evaded,
the generations of ancestors who wintered over
in frozen mud for you to be here,
as if you were meant to be here.
I can neither name nor deny
the purpose of your being here
but simply that you are here.
You belong. The woods are yours,
yours is the color of this place,
the brook is yours, the sunlight all yours.
You are, without difficulty, being a frog,
without fear or shame or pride,
simply a frog, here in these dappled woods,
here in this passage of the music in which,
for a few measures, we are in harmony.
In this temple of green and yellow light,
my little yogi, you offer wisdom:
to allow oneself to be meant to be here,
to forsake endeavor, to let go
of having to find or accomplish,
and simply, purely, belong.
We share this cup of sunlight, this moment
that may be mistaken for a million years.
And then we go into our worlds,
bearers, both, of an infinite mystery.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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             A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat,
             so that the boat was already being swamped.…
             They said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
                            —Mark 4.37-38

The howling winds of political angst scream in our ears,
and make it hard to hear each other, hard to steady the world’s rigging.
Our little paddles are nothing against the tide of greed and fear.
The staggering seas of a changed climate batter us.
Waves of fear of war and unrest, nuclear threat, microplastics,
species loss and forever chemicals swamp the boat of our future.
It’s not unreasonable to think of catastrophe, of collapse.
We are afraid we are perishing.

It is true, there is great urgency.
Jesus can’t make sane our politics or cool the earth,
vanquish pollution or banish all war.

And yet the Graceful One says, “Peace. Be still.”
We are not perishing.
We are in the boat with Jesus. God’s boat.
There is a greater goodness to which we belong—
not a scheme for saving us, but a mystery in which already
we are abiding with God forever,
sharing in God’s unfolding of life.

Even in trying times we act with both urgency and hope,
both boldness and peace.
We are not perishing. We are facing the storm
with the Guide of the Universe.

Weather Report

Severe storm warning.
Resist the temptation to shelter inside.
Go out into it,
and bring calm steadiness.
It will change the storm.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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As I round another lap of the sun
what I want at 71 is what I had
watching our children grow:
the wonder of seeing
who, by grace, I am becoming.

Oh, I try, of course, and apply myself;
I have aims and hopes and intentions;
but this miraculous unfolding is gift, pure gift.
The earth produces of itself, I know not how:
first the blade, then the stalk,
then the full head of grain.

My wish as I blow out a forest of candles
is that I might attend to what is emerging,
nurture it with care,
humbly live in harmony with it,
and gather the harvest in joy—
to let myself be my own best birthday present,
day after blessed birthing day.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Mustard seed

              The realm of God is like a mustard seed,
             which, when sown upon the ground,
             is the smallest of all the seeds on earth;
             yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs,
             and puts forth large branches,
             so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
                                         —Mark 4.30-32

A mustard seed of grace hides in you,
small, immeasurable.

Tiny—becoming infinite.
Don’t try to estimate its power.

A mighty tree—a little shrub,
scale is useless here.

Your mystifyingly small nucleus
is cosmic, the span of the universe.

Birds of the flock of the whole world
nest in your branches.

What you haven’t even seen in you
offers shade and shelter.

Something changing the world
is happening in you.

Let the miracle unfold.
Trust, and be good soil.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Seed growing

              The realm of God is as if
             someone would scatter seed on the ground…
                            —Mark 4.26

God has scattered the seed of God’s Word
all around this world.
Watch for it….

God’s will is a seed scattered in this life.
It grows without your knowing.
Watch for it….

God has scattered the seed of God’s grace
in you.
Watch for it….

You are a seed God has scattered into the world.
In what way might you bear fruit?
Watch for it….

The love you bear into the world is a divine seed.
You won’t see it grow where it is scattered.
Trust it….

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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On my calendar

June 25 — 3:30 —Poetry Reading at Wesley By the Sea, 51 Charles Wesley Ct. Wells, ME
June 27— 7 p.m.— Conversation, poetry reading & Q&A online.
July 17 – time TBA — Poetry reading, Bethany House of Prayer, Arlington MA.


A serpent in me
          curls around the innocent tree
                      lures my Eve and Adam
                                 who know
                        what is good for food
                and a delight to the eyes
      to defy death
   and You
as if I can do it alone.

              Over and over he lies,
                         they consent,
          and I bend away from You
   toward myself.

Always I wrestle
         like a sinewy snake
                     with the difference
                            between toward You
             and toward myself,
     coiled around each other
as they are.

I do not banish the serpent
but learn to live with him
and them
and you
and myself.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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