Bent in you

           There appeared a woman with a spirit
           that had crippled her for eighteen years.
           She was bent over
           and was quite unable to stand up straight.
                           —Luke 13.11

What is bent over in you?
What is pushed over, put down,
made weak, or silenced?
What beauty is hidden,
what capacity stilled?
What in you is bound up,
distorted, facing downward?
How have you given up hope?
How have you been told that you can’t?
That you deserve it?
That this is not the time for healing?

Let the bent over woman in you come forward.
Let Jesus lay a healing hand on her.
Don’t expect instant change, but know this:
the spirit that distorts you
is not as strong as love.

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

Bent over

          There appeared a woman with a spirit
          that had crippled her for eighteen years.
          She was bent over
          and was quite unable to stand up straight. 

                  —Luke 13.11

Bowing, in a posture of subservience,
as if unequal, inferior.

Facing the floor, not the horizon,
the dirt, not the future.

Unable to look eye to eye,
intimately, on the level.

Familiar with pain,
her constant companion.

Unable to stand tall, take a stand,
look up, raise a hand.

Unable to embrace, to dance,
to work, to contribute.

Yet worthy, beloved,
gifted, wise and strong.

Not helpless, but patient,
trusting, accepting, and at peace.

Grace reshaped her spine
to match her heart.

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

Bent

           There appeared a woman with a spirit
           that had crippled her for eighteen years.
           She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight.
           When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said,
           “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.”
                           —Luke 13.11-12

You are not bad. You are just bent.
You don’t need to be judged or punished.
You need to be healed. To be set free.

Because you are bent
you will miss the mark.
What feels straight to you will be crooked.
Your self image is distorted.

But that doesn’t mean you’re evil. Just bent.
You didn’t bend yourself.
The power that distorts you is not your own.
Nor is the power that heals you.

What you have to do is open yourself
to the grace that lets you re-align,
the love that raises you up,
not once, but every breath.

Fear will bend you down.
Love will raise you up.
Keep choosing love.
The gentle hand is on your back even now.

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

I can listen

The root hairs of the white pine
finger their way through the dark,
playing something on that keyboard
I can’t hear.
But I can listen.
The breeze is telling some kind of story
in the trees, a lighthearted tale
that gets them laughing.
I don’t get it, but I can listen.
The ocean chants its psalms,
the notes pouring over themselves,
the words always shifting,
the chant passed on
for millennia of millennia.
I can’t join in, but I can listen.
The desert crackles in its silence.
All I can do is listen.
The human chorus speaks,
untranslatable, the moans and laughter,
the tales, the songs, the cries, the murmurings,
all of it together a vast uncontainable speech
that I can’t comprehend, but,
even in what is not said, even
in the voice of a single person,
I can listen.

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

At least as much

They’re cutting trees beyond our house
to make room for more houses.
Cutting little bits of me, these friends
I’ve walked among every morning.
This tragedy seems one with
the felling of trees in Madagascar,
old growth forests ruined for paper towels,
the killing of whales, the slaughter of cattle,
the cooking of chicken, the labor of slaves,
the lives of the migrants who pick my fruit,
the cutting of trees where they built my house,
the Beloved hung on the cross.
Unless my sad outrage is humbled
and confused by guilt and gratitude
I have failed to really be one with the trees,
to know how profoundly my weal is built on others’ woe,
how much the world surrenders to sustain me.
I will not consume this world nor quit it nor save it,
but join it: all of us in this together,
bound up in the giving-and-receiving of life:
wounding as little as I can,
humbled by what others sacrifice for me,
and grateful, to commit to this: to contribute
as least as much as I cost.

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

The future is not coming

The future is not coming.
We are the ones
who are approaching the future.
The future is waiting patiently,
full of hope
that we are coming,
because we are the ones
who can heal it.


_________________
Weather Report

Impending,
as a shifting front moves through
the present, continually renewing it
as the present.
High winds will continue;
hold fast.
Expect high levels of both power and responsibility.
Regardless of how sensible we are,
anticipate warmer temperatures.

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

Tender

When I am weak, God,
let me be weak,
without resistance to your grace.

When I am powerless
may I be empty of all
but your power.

When I am angry
let my anger melt into its fear,
my fear rise into trust.

When I am outraged
let my passion for justice
be benevolent and steadfast.

When I despair
root my longing in your presence,
my desire in your hope.

Loving God, by your sure hand
keep me fearlessly tender,
mercifully strong.

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

Division

           Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth?
           No, I tell you, but rather division!
                           —Luke 12.51

There is only one thing,
and we are all part of it.
One God, one Creation,
one Spirit, one Body.
We care for the poor,
include the outcast,
forgive those who hurt us
and love our enemies
because they are us.
All is one.
This is disturbing to those who are afraid,
who are self-enclosed,
who want to be better than—
that is, separate from—others.
They will oppose those who preach unity,
those who celebrate our oneness.
If you proclaim the gospel of uniting love
they will turn against you,
they will divide “us” from “them.”
This division is to be expected.
Don’t let it discourage you.
Forgive them, for we are still one.
You have touched the nerve.
In that touch, by grace, in time,
in the fullness of time,
healing will come.

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

The movement of the Spirit

What is the movement of the Spirit? asks the sage.
Is it when the bee loses itself in the nectar?

No, says another, it is when the bee
slips out, its legs covered with pollen
for the next flower.

Ah, says a third, or is it the bee
saying to the others, “Hey, friends!
Nectar is this way?”

Perhaps, says another, it is
the comb of honey that grows in the hive.

Or, I wonder, is it the humming you feel
inside yourself?

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

Homeland

           People who speak of faith make it clear
           that they are seeking a homeland.

                           — Hebrews 11.14

Beloved Dark Mystery,
among the places I have gone, the places I have stayed,
the places I long to see—
I am seeking a homeland.
A place of deep belonging, of rest and safety,
where my story is part of the story,
my life is part of the beauty.
Whether a native in my native land
or an immigrant still rooting or a ceaseless nomad,
I know my true home, my original soil, is you.
I am at home in you.
You are my womb, my earth, my people, my root.
You, Love that births all being,
you are my homeland,
and I am always coming from you
and traversing you and returning to you.
Here is my gratitude, my peace, and my belonging.
Thank you.
Amen.

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