Salt

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

         Everyone will be salted
                  with fire.
         Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness,
                  how can you season it?
         Have salt in yourselves,
                  and be at peace with one another.”
—Mark 9.49-50

 

Lord, I pray for salt,
for sea-strength of faith,
the sinew of my trust,
and a spicy compassion.

Change me by your salt in me;
saturate my soul with grace.
Burn me up in mercy.

Grant me the courage of an old salt,
hardy resolve,
and the fire of devotion.

May I bring out the best in others,
defend what is tender,
and serve as a currency of peace.

Salt your world with me, O Lord,
according to your wisdom,
to your delight.

 

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight5(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Praying

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
—James 5.13-16

Prayer is powerful, but not like the supposed power of Uri Geller who claimed to bend spoons by pure mental influence. The power of prayer is not in us, or in our prayer. It is in God. So we don’t “pray hard.” We pray soft. We pray not as a tool, but a gift, not a demand, but an awareness. Prayer is not a crowbar for our will, even if our hopes are righteous and worthy, but immersion in God’s grace. We open ourselves to God, the loving indwelling Presence, who prays in us. We give our desires to the Creator, whose infinite power creates the world anew, including us and those for whom we pray. God’s loving, healing presence takes over us, and our lives become more fully and wholly for God’ sake alone. There is power in that which may or may not have the outcome I want, but it makes this world heaven.

Loving One,
I give you my heart
and all its longings:
heal my sister…
bring peace on earth…
protect the children…
give me wisdom….

I rest in you,
who create in me.
Your hope breathes in me;
your love becomes mine;
your desire possesses me—
for my sister’s life…
for the world’s healing…
for the eyes of my heart….

I give myself and all my energies
to your delight.
I give my mind to you…
I give my sister to you..
I give all peoples to you.
Creator of the universe, create in me.
Lover of all beings, fill me with your love,
and trust in your mercy and grace.
Great One, whose Oneness heals all things,
may I be a power for your delight,
for the healing of the world.

Beloved, be my love,
my hope,
my life.
Amen.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight5(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Sea

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

 

As I write this I am looking out on the Atlantic Ocean. I am supposed to be concentrating at a training workshop, but I am looking out the window. No matter where I am I hear the sea waving at me. No matter what I do, the joyous sea flows in. Even in this room I am walking on the beach. I am standing on wet rocks watching the sunrise. I am baptized in the great depths.

I set to the work at hand, but the playful ocean pours in. A great wideness enters and opens inside me. No matter what I write it sounds like the chant of waves, it smells like salt air. No matter how carefully I take notes they are full of the cries of birds and the glimmer of sunlight on a ruffled sea. I close my eyes and waves keep leaping at my feet. Water swirls around the chairs, the speaker’s podium.

This is as it should be. No matter what we do, Spirit, the great Originating Sea, surrounds us, enfolds us, pours in and fills our lives. The great baptismal tide washes over us; the salt wind rushes in and out.

Prayer is opening the window, so that everything we do expands onto a broad shoreline, welcoming waves that have traveled far; every choice, every act smells of salt air and glimmers with the light of God on a ruffled world; and every word we speak rings with the cry of sea birds, sings of a wide and generous wind.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight5(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections

News

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

 

Whatever word you hear today,
good or bad, relieving or disappointing,
God is in it.

 

Whatever news comes your way,
calming or frightening,
there is blessing tucked in its creases.
 
Whatever happens to you next,
welcome or unwelcome,
is bound up in God’s hope for you.
 

Whatever word you hear today
is only the net.
The fish is the one true word
spoken to you every day,
whispered in the quiet places,
hidden in the dark places,
the word the master of the universe
speaks beneath all other shouts:
repeats, despite your doubts:
I love you, child. You’re mine.”

 
Beneath the world’s frantic cries,
the word persists.
I love you. You are mine.”

 

         

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
 

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

 

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight5(at)hotmail.com

 

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Connecting

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Last week, after 38 years of side-splitting music and beautiful, heart-warming satire as the Montana Logging and Ballet Company, we finally lost our brave struggle with optimism, so we sang one final concert and euthanized the group. The cool thing is that we got to sing at our own funeral.

Reflecting on 38 years of performing, we have lots of memories—in fact we remember them more clearly than the lines of our latest songs. We had plenty of adventures, honors, triumphs and worthy accomplishments. We sang some pretty good stuff, and created some pretty funny comedy. But what I’m most grateful for is the connecting we did. The four of us connected in the music, and in our hearts. We’ve stayed best friends. And we connected with the audiences. People laughed and cried and applauded and threw fruit (we ate a lot of fruit in the early years). But the best part is not that they cheered, but what they were cheering for: we connected with something in their hearts. We put to music something that they were already dreaming. They gave us as much loving energy as we gave them. There was some kind of bonding going on. I don’t think we created that connection. We tapped into something that was already there.

It’s always there. You don’t have to perform for thousands to touch it. You can always choose to connect with people’s hearts. Everybody is hungry for love and hope. Whatever you do in your life, you can touch that. You will likely never get a standing ovation. But if you live with love, if you do whatever you do in humble generosity, you connect with the love that binds us all. The people around you may never know it, but their world is better because of you. As Mother Teresa said, what matters is not doing great things, but doing simple things with great love.

Our strange quartet was lucky to receive the love we received, but the best gift was not the applause; it was connecting with people’s hearts, sharing our common longing for love and hope. Go do that, even silently, even in the privacy of your own prayers, and I know that a great auditorium of angels will burst into uproarious and sustained cheering, calling for an encore.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight5(at)hotmail.com.

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Passing

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
As you read this I am flying across the country to perform in the last concert of the Montana Logging and Ballet Company. After performing music and comedy together as a quartet for 38 years, we’re retiring. (I guess it’s the opposite of a debut: an exbut? A World Postmiere? A swan song? A dodo song?) Anyway. We’ve sung all over the nation, played for Congress and vice presidents, worked with Bishop Tutu, been featured monthly on NPR… and Wednesday night it will all be over. So it goes.

Everything is passing. Seasons turn. Stories end. Vegetables rot. Businesses close. People retire. Loved ones die. Coupons expire. Students graduate. Seeds grow. We can drive ourselves nuts trying to cling to things, even as they slip away. Or we can stay lightly in the moment, attentive to what is, unattached, ready for the next moment as well, free to fully be in each moment as it passes. When we try to “make the moment last forever” we don’t actually experience the moment; we just experience our fear of its passing. Pay attention and be fully, lovingly present to what is, without trying to keep it or control it, and the passing things of this world will be more fully yours than if you froze them in time.

As I fly over the country, it passes smoothly beneath me. Nothing will turn it back; nor will anything turn back the losses of all those passing things in our lives. The point is not to stop the plane in mid-air. The point is to remember to look out the window.

________________

Weather report

Unrepeatable,
though the day will be of average temperature
and unremarkable light,
as the present moment
continually becomes itself.
________________

I’ll be off the rest of the week. I’ll see you again next Monday. Meanwhile, pay attention.
         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight5(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Now I love you

 
As first I loved you longingly, from far, desiring.

You pulled me from my sea of want.

In gratitude I clung to you, possessing.

You disappeared within my arms,
vanishing into my heart.

I loved you in remembrance,
seizing certainty.

Hidden deep beneath my breath, you filled me.
Still, you do.

I loved you easily, without a care.

Then glancing toward the inward garden once,
I saw you resting in your favorite place

and I forgot myself. My heart at last
went out to you, adoring, and delighting.

Now I simply love you.
Just for you.

 

__________________

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

 

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

 

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Be my silence

 
 

God, be my silence that never fills,
my empty space that stays open,
my mystery that never resolves.

 

Be my quiet that is never wounded,
the calm that rises up
and puts its hand on my trembling hand.

 

Be the stillness I don’t need to break,
the question that haunts me forever,
the opening that no one may close.

 

God, be the presence that is enough,
the Word that remains,
the moment I am in.

 

 

 

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight5(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Take up your cross

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
 

 
If you want to become my follower,
deny yourself
and take up your cross and follow me.
For those who want to save their life will lose it,
and those who lose their life for my sake,
and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.
—Mark 8.34-35

 

 

The cross that Jesus invites us to take up is not an abstract thought, nor does it denote religious faith, no matter how devout. The cross in Jesus’ day was not a logo or a metaphor. It was not a kneeling bench on which believers felt holy. The cross was an instrument of pain, shame, absolute loss and death. It was a real weapon; the only way to “take it up” was to become its victim. What can it mean to “take up our cross” but to suffer it? It means to be in solidarity with those who are oppressed, to be one with those who are condemned, to carry in your heart the sorrow of those who suffer, and to pray and to act on their behalf. It is to live for the sake of the least of your sisters and brothers. To take up your cross is to let go of your ego, your willfulness and your desires, and be led wholly by God’s self-giving passion for the world, especially for the poor and the powerless. It is to be willing to suffer for the sake of the world, to work and even endure loss for the sake of the community’s gain. You do this not out of duty, or belief that you ought to be miserable so others can be happy, but you do it out of joy, pure joy in the gift of life, and pure love. To take up your cross is to give your life for the life of the world because that is your delight, trusting that as you empty yourself of your one small, lone life for the sake of compassion, the One who gives life gives it to you abundantly—infinitely and eternally, and still full of joy, overflowing with joy, radiant with divine, immortal joy.

 

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight5(at)hotmail.com

 

Published
Categorized as Reflections

A prayer for 9/11

 
 

 

Holy One, Loving Presence,
you who are Life and Peace,
we are fragile, and often afraid.
We fall so easily.
Hold us.

We are at the mercy
of strangers who are angry
and strangers who are merciful.
May we be merciful strangers.

For those who have watched over us
we give you humble thanks;
and for those who have meant us harm
we grant deep forgiveness.

We confess that we too are the angry ones;
we too are destroyers.
Forgive us, and make gentle our hearts.
We confess that we excuse our violence,
saying that it keeps us free;
but you alone are our freedom.

Keep us free from fear, free from bitterness,
free from hardened hearts.
Be our safety, our security.
You alone, God, be our strength and our hope.
Be our future, and our freedom.

You who hold us in your gentle arms
hold us with all people.
May we be one in your love,
one in our flesh, one in our living,
one in our dying.

You whose heart holds all sadness,
keep your arms open.
We all are so easily broken.
Hold us.
Holy Peace, may we be at peace in you.

 

 

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight5(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections