Birthing day

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.


Creating God,

make of this a birth-day,

a day of new beginnings,

day of the first Word,

before all sin or being forgiven,

new as all light,

rising dawn.


On this day, life-giving God,

birth me; set me in this world

to become more perfectly myself,

more fully who you create me to be,

an opening rose.


Make this day a day of birthing,

bringing to life

what you have sown

and woven within me,

letting it into the world,

unfolding light.


May it be as a dying-day,

released from all that was

into the coming world,

a word finally spoken.


Re-creating God,

let there be light,

and let me begin,

a newborn child.


____________________

Weather Report

Dawn,

always,

even in fading light,

as each moment in turn

becomes the first.


Deep Blessings,

Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

Psalm 5

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

O Listening Grace, hear me;
let the sigh of my heart lie against your chest.
Hold my cry like your child—

you who are Life and all Being,
the One to whom my prayers belong.
You hear me before my day dawns;
in the morning I put my desire in your hands
and I wait.

Evil is like darkness in your light;
in you my deadliness dies.
The closer I draw to you
the farther behind I leave my falsehood.
You see through our arrogance like glass,
and like glass you shatter our wrongdoing.

Your grace destroys our lies,
and our deceit evaporates in your truth.

Your mercy draws me into you;
your presence awes and awakens me.

Lead me, O Love, in your way of blessing,
despite those who would pull me elsewhere:
maintain the path so I don’t miss it.

There are those who are gushers of lies,
deep wells of hurt and destruction.
Their greed is a grave;
their fear is disguised as power.

Don’t let me fall for their deceit.
Let their disguises unravel about them.

Strip them naked of their lies
so that I can stay true to your grace.

Those who nest in you are safe forever;
our lives are songs of joy.
Surround us in your presence,
set free our joy in your embrace.

Your blessing is our inescapable gravity.
You hold us to you with love
as the earth holds us
and the air gives us breath.

Deep Blessings,

Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

Tidying

.
Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

.

Some day death with her seasoned hands

will come and change your bed,

lift the stale sheets from the mattress,

wrap her arms around you

and bear you off to the laundry,

and you will become clean and smooth.

.

Then why not let her once in a while

run her soft, ancient hands over you,

her long, steady white fingers,

and smooth out your wrinkles a little?


Deep Blessings,

Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

Thank you

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

A woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.”

Luke 7. 37-49

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For all the sappy crayon drawings,
for the hopelessly cheap cards
sent by those who’ve never had to before,
for all the thanks that come from so far behind
they seem like pranks but are not,
for the secret favors, possibly wasted,

given in tangled thanks
for widely unrecognized but life-saving blessings,
for songs of heartfelt praise sung loudly and out of tune,
wearing a totally inappropriate dress,
for the hymns of prostitutes and the tears of drunks
and the awkward deals and ridiculous vows
of ex-cons, recovering creeps and former sleaze-balls,
for their laughable attempts, both noble and pathetic,
at some kind of tribute for the miracle
of being able to put one day in front of another,
for all the bizarre attempts at tokens of appreciation
botched by the invisible disfigurements
of the bullied and abused,
for all the slipshod, embarrassing, unacceptable ways,
in ignorance, poor judgment and terrible taste,
that the redeemed have found
to voice gratitude and amazement
at the simplest things,
at lives that are not as mangled as they started out to be,
for the once-cruel lover, restored,

who can’t stop laughing to tearseven in crowded places,
for the sloppy embrace of the slut
who’s been hit by the lightning of forgiveness,
for the homeless man, reeling from the novelty of respect,
who gives away his best piece of cardboard,
for the woman who bursts into sobs in church,
for every raw disclosure of the heart,
however garish or inept,

for these the Lord holds still,
and follows each tear on his feet
and gazing steadfastly says,

Friend, thank you.”

And all you accomplished people
in right minds and good clothes and polished hearts
who have kept your composure and your treasure:
goofy as he looks doing that,
behold— he really means it.

.

Deep Blessings,

Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

Touch the river

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Touch the river
and you touch the mountain top,
the glacier, the dizzying waterfall.

Touch the river
and you touch the sea, vast and deep.
rumbling with whales.

Touch this moment
and you touch God, holy, infinite and eternal,
here, in this moment.

Deep Blessings,

Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

30 years

.
Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

Today Beth and I are celebrating our thirtieth wedding anniversary. In all the blessing, the love, the riches, the struggle, the self-discovery, the joy and the surprises of these thirty years, the greatest mystery is this: that through it all, in idyllic times and troubled ones, when it was easy and when it was hard, whether she felt like batting her eyelashes or rolling her eyes, she never left me, never gave up, never stopped loving me, never ceased to draw out of me my love for her.

Marriages go long and short, deep and shallow. Not everyone is as lucky as I. But I know this and trust it as surely as gravity: that love is at the heart of Being itself. Beth’s love is not an oddity in this universe. It comes from somewhere. And thought it’s taken hard work, my love is not a product of my effort. It’s a gift. These thirty years are a glimpse of eternity. The deep love we’ve experienced is a part of a greater, infinite love that burns at the heart of all things. There is One who loves you deeply, unfailingly, gently, despite all your faults, including the most terrible things you’ve ever done. The Loving One, the Embracing Mystery, knows you at your worst and loves you. She also knows you at your best, better than you know yourself, and draws you toward that perfection with a strong and tender force. The Infinite Spirit of Love does not judge “worse” or “better” in you; she simply loves you and holds you to the truth of who you are.

The Lord has called you like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit” (Isa. 54.6).

There is always more, deeper love to be had. That’s the part that takes hard work, commitment, self-examination and sacrifice. But it’s always, miraculously, abundantly worth it, a hundred times over. All you have to do is stay with her. Stay attentive, stay faithful. Receive her blessings. Learn her wisdom. Submit to her call in your heart. Serve her without hesitation. Love her. No matter what, give thanks. And riches beyond measure or deserving will be yours— now, for many years, and to eternal life.

Deep Blessings,

Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

For gentle patience

.
Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

.

God, today I pray

for gentle patience,
as the earth that holds me, whatever I do;

for the hospitable acceptance of what is,
as the breeze that blows as it is led
and flows around what it must;

for curiosity,
as the plants that seek light;

for steadfast strength,
as the weeds that return;

for a light heart,
as the geese that fly overhead
laughing at each other;

for deep compassion,
as the sun and the rain that fall upon us,
giving us light and life and beauty.

God, today I pray for your eternal Spirit
by which you create the world each new day
to live in me, to create me anew,
to make me beautiful and kind,
to make me yours.
Amen.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

Miracle

.
Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.

Luke 7.12-15

If we take the gospel seriously it leaves us with a heart-wrenching question: if Jesus could raise the dead once or twice, why didn’t he always? What good is a miracle, even if it leads us to believe, if it’s nothing that’s ever really going to happen again? Why should we believe that he could raise the dead when in fact he won’t?

I don’t know.

But I do know that life is full of mystery, that death is real, and that compassion burns at the heart of all things. I know that death and suffering will not simply disappear. But I also believe that Love encounters us on our way, walks with us on each Via Dolorosa, and interrupts our funeral marches. And that therefore anything can happen. Our dead, even the most dearly missed and needed, even the most unjustly dead, are not likely to revive. But something is. I don’t expect that I ever know what the miracle will be. But I know that it is not impossible.

I’ve done enough funerals as a pastor, shared through enough people’s mourning, and lost my parents and a childhood friend, to know not to expect anything other than the permanence of death and the usual process of loss and grieving. But I also know that I don’t know everything, that Love changes things, that the unexpected can happen, and that new life rises—not in the body of the deceased, but among us nonetheless. Sometimes some weird miracle does happen.

I don’t know why Jesus doesn’t just do more miracles. But for me not knowing leads to openness, not despair. Because I don’t know, I know that anything can happen. Anything.

Be open.

Deep Blessings,

Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

Psalm 146

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

.

O Holy Presence, Power of Life,
we praise you.
We praise you with our saying and doing;
we praise you by being.


Our life doesn’t come from powerful people;

it’s not soldiers who make us free.
What they control dies with them:
it’s little stuff, not what’s deeply life-giving.


But unbounded life wells up in us
when we open our hearts to your love for all,
when our hearts fall into the Heart
who is at the heart of all things—


you— who create galaxies,
who handmade the earth;
who filled the oceans drop by drop
and gave them their tiny and huge creatures,

you who never give up on us,
who liberate the oppressed,
who are food for the hungry
and who lift those who are bowed down.

O Love, you set us free
from whatever imprisons us;
you open our eyes when we are blind;
and in you we discover deep love.


You are present in the stranger;
you are the hope and dignity
of the homeless child, the single mother,
the strength of the vulnerable ones.

Hose who turn to you
you feed with life,
but the spirit of selfishness
you starve to death.


Holy One,
you love the world into being.
Amazing!
Amazing!

.

Deep Blessings,

Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

The masterpiece

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

.

A composer labored over a symphony,
creating with ordinary instruments
the very music of heaven.

Even before its debut,
word spread of its beauty,
of its power to transfigure the listener,

and the honor
the masterpiece would bring
to their little town.

Tickets to the performance
were ridiculously expensive,
granting the highest social standing.

On the day of the concert
people fought their way in,
though the composer sat in the back.

As the orchestra began, people were swept away.
Within the first few notes they were weeping.
Within a minute they were in ecstasy.

Before the orchestra had even played through
the first theme, the audience was shouting,
hailing as a genius the startled composer,

whom they carried on their shoulders
out of the theater and into the square,
where they soon erected a statue

of the composer, whose masterpiece,
beyond the first few measures,
to their dying days, they never actually heard.

.

Deep Blessings,

Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com