Psalm from a Chilean mine

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

God of grace, I praise you!
         Let me never take you for granted!
My very being is your doing,
         and my life is a testimony to you.
For I was buried deep
         and you brought me up.
I was in darkness
         and you gave me light.
I was in a narrow place
         and you have brought me out
to a spacious and open-armed land,
         to people who love me.

Cut off, I thought I was alone,
         but you were with me:
you accompanied me in my helplessness;
         you sat with me in my solitude.
In the dark, I could not see
         anyone to rescue me.
But there were those who prayed for me,
         who labored for my well-being.

How soon will I forget
         that you are my life?
How quiet will I be
         about your grace?
How afraid will I be of the dark,
         how despairing in my difficulties?

Holy One, you are my gladness;
         you are my confidence.
In my tightest spots I will trust you,
         and count on your unfailing grace.
When most alone I will rely on you,
         and your loving presence.
O God of Presence, you are my life.
         I thank you with all of my living.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Psalm 19

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
                  Psalm 19

Creation sings the glory of God;
         the galaxies utter their prayers daily.
Each day is a word of God’s story;
         each night discloses the truth.
Oh, they don’t talk with words,
         not with audible voices.
But their message saturates the world,
         and reaches to the edge of the universe.
God has set the sun at home in this world,
         and every day it comes to marry us,
         comes to dance with vigor and grace.
It comes to our world from another,
         and visits everywhere,
         and no one is overlooked.

God’s love is all that we need;
         it restarts our hearts.
God’s wisdom is as sure as gravity;
         it sustains even the unwise.
God’s ways are pure beauty,
         delighting the soul.
God’s desire allures us,
         enlightens our eyes.

Live in wonder and awe and you become holy;
         you slip into the eternal.
The voice of God is What Is;
         pay attention and you truly live.
Throw away money for this kind of wisdom,
         even what you actually need.
Abandon all your loves for this Love,
         your favorite things, your most precious.

God, your love portrays me better than I;
         when I listen I become myself.
But who can see themselves clearly?
         Save me from my hidden faults.
Cut me loose from my attachment to myself.
         Set me free from my fears.
Help me live as a servant to life,
         not hurting or destroying.

God, may all my thoughts and words and actions
         be in harmony with your delight—
my Lifeboat, my Lover,
         my Life.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Loss

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

So much is in a tiny boat
sailing away into the gray

you try so hard to keep
your balance on the space between

while you stand on this wide
virgin shore and behind you

stretches a whole continent
into the rest of the century

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

If you want

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

If you want
         you can find reasons to withhold.
In the autumn,
         some apples do not fall.
For every gift
         there is a regret, if you seek it.
The greater the leap
         the more possible it is to refrain.

An empty room
         has no shadows.
The more intense the silence
         the more deeply it is heard.
Without thinking,
         you often step into light.
You are never ready
         when the music overtakes you.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Keep praying

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

There was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. A widow kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.” For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.”

          — Luke 18. 2-5

We have to confess: sometimes we judge; sometimes we neither honor God nor respect people. And God comes to us again and again, pleading for justice. All too often we refuse. But give thanks that God is continually coming, wearing us down with her grace.

God does not speak to us in thundering tones, through authoritative powers with clarion voices. God speaks in the quiet murmurs in our hearts, in gentle nudgings and nagging questions. While our imperious, judging egoistic mind is busy with its business, God speaks in subtle, unflagging leanings of our hearts, the widowed voices within us. And God speaks in the voice of the poor and dispossessed, the vulnerable and powerless, in the silence of those who have no voice. She wears us down with the truth, with slight but persistent invitations to pay attention to what is within us and around us, calling us to love, to justice, to courage.

Prayer is not our attempt to get God to pay attention; it is the attention we give to God. We are by nature hard of hearing toward God’s entreaties. So it takes time. We have to keep praying, keep listening. God’s Word calls us to love radically. It is often outside the range of our expectations or even our initial acceptance, so it takes courage to listen. We have to not lose heart. (“Will the Human One come and find faith on earth?”)

Be still and listen for the patient widow’s knock on your door. Listen for her voice. What might God be inviting you toward? How might God be seeking your attention? How is God coming to you now? Listen and wait; pray always and do not lose heart.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Practice gratitude

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

Ten lepers approached him…. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice…. Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?…” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

         — From Luke 17. 11-19

What constituted that man’s faith was gratitude. He didn’t believe anything other than what the others did. What distinguished him was his gratitude for what he had received. It was his gratitude that made him whole.

Gratitude is the heart of faith. Whatever we call “faith” that is not rooted in gratitude is really just an attempt to manipulate God.

Gratitude is not something you always feel. It is something you practice. Today, practice gratitude.

If all you do is live a life that says, “Thank you,” it will be a life well lived.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

If we have died with him

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

If we have died with him
         we will also live with him.

                  — 2 Timothy 2.11

Give it all away:
your stuff, your blessings,
your good will, your love,
goodness yes, your love.
Give away yourself.
Give away your best things,
your favorite things.
Don’t hold back.
Pour it on, dump it out,
throw it all into people’s laps.
Let everything good
flow like a spring from you, a river,
all of it—though it multiplies
as you surrender it.
Spend it, lose it, neglect it, waste it—
waste it on the least deserving,
the least understanding, the least aware.
Don’t calculate, as if you have to budget.
Ridiculously extravagant, fearlessly,
recklessly, giddily generous,
mindlessly raid your own savings of grace
and abandon it to your neighbors—
all your stuff, and God’s as well,
until you have given away
the crumbs of your love,
your pictures, your house, your floor,
the ground beneath you,
everything,
even your life

until there is nothing left
but God,

and you will be really alive.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Weary prayer

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

Gentle One,

I am battered.
I am tired.
Something in me deep is weary.
         Hold me.

I’m tired of swinging this oar
against the ceaseless waves
against these strong arms
that pound me drown me
pushing against what pushes against
keeping up defending
getting everything done.—
         Don’t make me have to survive.
         Relieve me.

Take this uniform, this costume,
this suit of adequacy. Take it away.
Take this life, another’s invention,
this skin I hardly fit into.
Strip me of all that,
till there is only myself,
naked and helpless and beloved
         lying in your hand.

Let me be you, asleep in the boat;
         let the storm go on on its own.

In the back of the boat,
hold me, rocking, rocking,
maybe even sing a little.
         Let me lie here and listen.

         Myself, I’ll lie here and listen.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Laboring prayer

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

We loaded 47,650 pounds of pumpkins off the truck yesterday. Our church will sell them through October to raise funds for missions. I ended the day tired, sore and happy. My knees in particular went to bed with a keen memory of the work.

Work it was, picking up and passing (or tossing) 2,656 pumpkins down the line, out of the truck and into the church yard. Some weighed as much as 40 pounds. Deep in the bowels of the semi trailer, it was dark, dusty and sweaty. Pumpkins were tumbling down from the pile, flying through the air, swinging down the line. And in that labor there was joy. There was laughter. Had we not been grunting so much there could have been more singing. (There was a brief chorus of “47,000 pounds of pumpkins on the truck.”) There was a sense that we were passing more than fruit from hand to hand. (Yes, pumpkins are fruit.) And in the end there was the satisfaction of a job well done.

For a few hours we joined in the song of laborers, the dance of mind and muscle. We joined all those whose labor is their lives and their prayer: stevedores unloading ships; ranch hands bucking hay; trash collectors heaving out our garbage; bellhops carrying luggage; stonemasons hauling bricks; fruit pickers, fishermen, roofers and miners. And for a moment we also joined those for whom labor is not a joy but an oppressive burden, those who harvest our chocolate or sew our shirts or dig for our diamonds, whose labor is dangerous, and done under duress. I give thanks for all their labors, and lift them up as offerings to God.

Sometimes our prayers are wordy things; sometimes they are silent thoughts. But sometimes our prayer is labor, our shoulders put to the weight of the world, our hands laid upon the rough and the smooth, our backs familiar with the heft of life.

Give thanks for all that you can do. Give thanks for the strength of your flesh. Give thanks for the simple jobs in which you can praise God, serve your neighbors, and make the world a little more beautiful. And when you’re done, don’t forget to say “Amen.”

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Autumn colors

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

Autumn colors have an edge.
Shards of red and orange crackle
through the cracks and splintered ends
of summer’s gentle arc.
Behind the green and murmuring veil of bliss
death speckles every leaf and bark,
and colors spark and hiss.
Leaves turn the shade of blood,
the shade of bread, then die;
they bleed and wash the trees
with broken colors,
shadows radiant and bright,
‘till all is gathered and dispersed,
‘till all is white.
Death’s season; passion’s colors:
these hues are loose,
and not at our command,
but still not unforgiving:
undomesticated shades
only at the edges of our living.
Faith is such a luminous surrender:
the red transfiguration of the tree,
celebrant with unexpected brightness
pouring life, unshackled, to the wind.
Listen at the garden’s edge, dear child
of life and death, to this rustling oracle:
that what we call a miracle
is often simply wild.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net