Greening

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         
The swollen brook nearly disappears
beneath the burgeoning green,
the woods thicken lustily, sweating,
songs in a hundred languages throng the air,
wildflowers reach into their green pockets,
pulling out purple,
a strong-armed flock finishes
its four thousand miles,
and in the water they take their bows,
a confetti of bugs celebrates noisily,
blue and black and brown and happy,
a heron lifts off the pond
on its cloud of wings,
things swarm and swell
and reach and hatch,
becoming new and truly amazing.

From far away you can’t tell
all this is happening,
like you can’t always see
from the outside
the mighty billowing inside you,
the immense spring,
the roots that crack the stone,
the greening that will eventually
take the city.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

Born from above

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

         
         
         No one can see the Realm of God
         without being born from above.

                  —John 3.3

With every breath
you come from God.

Your life is a gift,
everything is a gift,
and so you see.

You are not born long ago,
but right now,
seeing everything
with the wondering eyes
of the newborn.

Look up into those eyes.
Fall, as if dead, into those arms.
Let her birth you into this
other world, eyes open.

Take that first breath, bewildered,
as one about to be born.

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

Send me

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the Sovereign, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”
         —Isaiah 6.5-8

God,
my small mind,
my little sparrow of fear
believes I am not good enough
to bear your love into this world,
to be the one to shine with your flame,
to carry your flowers,
to speak your Word.

Burn up that little mind
in the blaze of your love.
Let your whole heaven of beauty
sweep me away.
Kiss me with your fierce glory
and I melt,
smitten, molten,
my lips still burning,
my guts still aflutter.

Newly made, I know myself anew—
not by my falterings,
but by your flame in me.
I find myself not in my fear
but in your love.
Here am I.
I want to be there
as you kiss the world.
Send me.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

Near

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         
Sunrise. I walk away
from the noise of my street
out to the woods.
Low sunlight runs its fingers
through the trees.
A great blue heron
presides over the marsh.
All is still. Everything is in prayer.

Don’t be fooled.
I am no nearer to God here
than yesterday sitting in traffic,
no nearer than the heron
wherever he was then,
never farther than the heron
from his own
black, keen eyes, watching,
watching.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

A meditation on Psalm 104.27-31

         
All living beings eat from your hand;
    you give and they gather.
You open your hand
    and we are filled with goodness.

         
         You hand me my life, each moment a gift.
         I trust…. I receive… I am grateful.

When you hide your face
    we are dismayed.

         All my anxiety is because I can’t see
         your invisible face that’s always there.
         I trust… I close my eyes… I am here.

When you hold your breath
    we die and return to dust.

         Each breath, I die.
         Then you breathe your breath into me
         and you bring me to life.
         I breathe… I live… I Am.

Each moment you breathe forth your Spirit
and we are re-created;
    all the universe is created anew.

         You are always creating the world;
         each moment you are creating me.
         I breathe in… in your image… I am being formed

May the glory of the Lord endure forever,
God’s delight in all Creation.

         You delight in me.
         I delight in you.
         This is eternal life.

         
         

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

Sighs too deep for words

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         We do not know how to pray as we ought,
         but the Spirit intercedes
         with sighs too deep for words.

                  —Romans 8.26

I do not know how to speak.
I let go of my words.

I do not know how to listen.
I unclasp the silence.

I do not know how.
I do not know.

I rest in you,
and you pray in me.

Even what I hear is not your words
but your sighs too deep for words.

Amen,
and amen.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

Loving the other

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in other languages,
as the Spirit gave them ability.

—from Acts 2.3-11

Other languages. Real languages. The disciples, who spoke Aramaic (and with an accent) suddenly were able to speak in other people’s languages. The true miracle and gift of Pentecost is not ecstatic prayer, but conveying love by bridging differences, by reaching out to the Other. Whatever separates us is the place where the miracle of Pentecost happens.

We tend to see other people as reflections of our own self-image. The more shallow our self-understanding, the harder is is for us to see ourselves in the other, and the less easily we identify with people who are different— in culture, age, religion, sexual identity, politics, life style, mental health, legal status and so on. So we segregate ourselves from people who differ from us. We don’t treat them as beloved people, we treat them as projections of our likes and dislikes of ourselves. They become to us little more than shadows of our fears about our own vulnerability, imperfection, mortality and acceptability. Sexism, racism, and all our prejudices are rooted in this fear.

But God’s love reaches out to the other; it enables me to love one who is not-me. God’s Spirit in us helps us to bridge the divide, to put to death our self-centeredness, to let go of our desire to have the other person make us feel secure, powerful and esteemed, and instead to notice and care about the other person. This is what it really means to love our neighbor. It’s to bridge differences and love the other, to speak someone else’s language. We may not need to do it linguistically, but we need to do it in our hearts. What makes the church one is not that we are all the same, but that we are all different, and we love each other. After all, part of God’s mystery is that God comes to us as the stranger, the outsider, the Other.

May the Spirit give you the language of love.

__________________

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Absence

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away,
         for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you;
         but if I go, I will send him to you.”

                  —John 16.7

God has a weird sense of intimacy.

Jesus embodies God’s love for us, but he’s a human being. The love he wishes for us is not just his own limited, human love, but God’s infinite, divine love. For us to really allow God to embrace us fully, for us to let God fill us fully from the inside, Jesus knows he has to get out of the way. We have to let go of him. We have to let go of our memories and expectations of God in order to be open and ready for the next, even deeper encounter. We have to let go of our experience of God to meet God.

We are so deeply attached to our sensations of God, our images of God, our feelings, our understanding and even our sense of God’s presence, that sometimes God withdraws that sense—and even withdraws that form of God’s presence—so we can be free of those sensations we’re attached to, to get beyond our ideas and feelings about God and actually be with God.

Sometimes the way this feels is that God is absent. Like when the risen Jesus, who is not subject to death, and therefore ought to be able to hang around forever, leaves anyway. But God is not absent. God is just changing our awareness. Sometimes our sense of the absence of God is a sign that God is giving us a new way of knowing God. It may never be as easy and feel-good as it was to just hang with Jesus. But it will be deep and true. God will be there.

Be ready to let go of whatever you’re used to hanging onto. There’s always more.
         
         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

Dumping

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         
I see things the way I want to.
Everybody is a figment of my expectations.
If I don’t understand it, it’s not real.
Or worse.
I believe if I try hard enough,
I can make things the way I want them to be.
I control my life.
I am responsible for how other people feel.
How they feel determines who I am.
If I don’t like something, I will keep thinking
about the way I wish it were.
I need to understand.
God, or life, owes me. Something.
Or has it in for me. For some reason.
I will prove myself to be who I truly am.
What I think, is real; everything else is almost.
I know what I like. And it matters.
I live by what I understand.

This is the garbage that I take to the dump,
to God, my sweet meadowy landfill.
Over and over, I have to take out the trash.
I drop my burden
to be with the One,
in this moment, as it is,
as I am,

as God is.

__________________ 
Weather Report

Shedding,
with considerable release at higher altitudes,
as throughout the day
reality shows a high disregard
for what you think.
There will be significant clearing,
as the sun burns off the upper layer
of judgment.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

Threads

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

         
I’m in Montana again. It’s dark at the moment but I know the Elkhorn Mountains hold me in their arms. The mountain winds stream down the ridge, across the meadow, into my lungs and on their way eastward. Maybe in a few days I’ll breathe them again. My sister and I sit for a quiet breakfast. The dogs pace and sniff and curl at our feet, winding invisible threads of love around our feet and the chairs and the table.

Last night we sang, four of us who’ve sung together for 37 years, four lives braided together, pulling each other onto the stage. Sometimes I could feel the harmonies threading among our bodies. Thousands of little unseen threads flung out into the darkness and back, some to people I knew were there, most to strangers. Sometimes I could feel them tugging.

Afterward I visited with some old friends, some I hadn’t seen in decades. As talked and hugged, and gathered in ropes of years and love and stories and coiled them over our shoulders. Now another strong cord pulls at me. As I fly off toward home, I will get on an airplane with thousands of little threads tugging all the people this way and that. I’ll fly over roads and rivers threading their way across the land. I’ll land in Boston where you can almost see the threads of tenderness being cast out across the terminal as people greet each other.

All day long we’ll go about pretending we can’t feel them, failing to notice the little unseen threads, taut, between us and heaven. But we’re hopelessly entangled.

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