Hurricane

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
Here comes Hurricane Sandy, which looks to be a wicked storm. We might feel a little like Job, nobly enduring the undeserved suffering of a natural disaster with courage, dignity and resourcefulness. But we ought also to feel a little humbled by facing the hidden consequences of our own choices. Certainly, we didn’t cause the hurricane, nor does God “send” weather as punishment. But maybe we contributed to making this storm as bad as it is. Recent increases in the intensity of storms, droughts and other weather patterns are due in part to global climate change, which is partly our own fault. Hurricane Sandy might not have been so bad if it hadn’t been for us and our greenhouse gasses. Like war and pollution and economic crisis, we’ve brought this on ourselves.

Now this observation might make you feel even more small and helpless than the storm itself does. But what I’m saying is that your choices have a greater impact than you can see. All these large patterns are the result of lots of small decisions. If your choices contribute to global carbon imbalance or economic collapse, they can contribute to global healing, too. It’s hard to imagine that your kindness can change the world, but it can and it does. If you can make a hurricane worse, you can also make a society better.

In the next days not many people will do anything heroic that will make a huge difference in the history of the world. But many people will do small things to help each other make it through the storm. And those small things can add up to a world of blessing. That is God’s promise, and our choice.

If you don’t hear from me tomorrow, it just means that our power is out. No big deal. Love your neighbor anyway.
         
         
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

Psalm 34. 1-8

Beloved, my heart pours into yours,
         and every word I say is your praise.
You are the song, and I am your singing.
         You are the hope of a heart stripped bare.
Our lives are a love song to you;
         our love is your glory let loose.

I opened myself to you
         and you received me.
         You came between me and my fear.
I wonder, with grateful awareness:
         how you radiate in me!
Mindful of you,
         I am free from shame.

My smallest voice cried out
         and you heard from within.
In my deepest trouble
         you held me.
The arms of your presence enfold me;
         they make my world.

O Beloved, all that I taste or see
         is your goodness.
Living in you
         is deep joy.

         
         

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

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

Lord, I want to see

With the eyes of my heart enlightened,
seeing with your love and wisdom,
         I want to see.

The eye a lamp for my body,
filling me with light,
         I want to see.

Attentive to your presence,
aware of your grace,
         I want to see.

Your glory in others,
your hope in the present moment,
         I want to see.

Your Word is a lamp for my feet.
Show me your path, O Lord;
         I want to see.

All that shines with the light
of what is unseen,
         I want to see.

Awaken me to what is.
Open the eyes of my love.
         Lord, I want to see.
         I want to walk in the light.

         
         

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

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

Encounter

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
         —Mark 10.46-52

Beside the way where others rush so madly, stop.
         •

Allow that you cannot see all that you need to see.
         •

Call out the Beloved’s name, boldly, and with reverence.
         •

Many voices will try to silence or discourage you. Practice ignoring them.
         •

Trust the Beloved to listen.
         •

Throw off your cloak and run to the Beloved, who awaits you.
         •

Listen: the humble servant looks into your eyes and asks,
“What do you want me to do for you?”
         •

Wait. Stay with the question, with the questioner.
         •

Let an answer come from deep within.
And a deeper one.
         •

Even in the waiting, your hope has made you well.
         •

Notice how you go a new way.
         •
         
         
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

“I do”

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
My son stood up and said “I do,”
his lovely friend, too, said “I do,”
and now I do as well.
His love and hers enlarge my own.
I now have someone new to love,
to claim, adore and stand beside,
to be there for no matter what.
With love he brought her in
as I alone could not have done,
and changed our family
making it more deep and spacious,
wide and rich and lovely.

Without our work or will, but as pure gift,
my wife and I now have more kids,
and so, more love, and so more world,
more hope, more life, more joy.

Maybe this is what the Teacher meant,
whom we call brother, bringing in
those others— sisters now, and brothers,
though we had never chosen them—
now all one family in this world,
devoted with no lesser loyalty
to strangers than to one’s only child.
The more of them we have to love
because we’re family,
the more this life resembles heaven.

Like God, we stand beside the world
in love and say “I do.”

         
         
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

It poured

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
Our son was married this weekend. It was an outdoor wedding on a farm, and the weather reports had been sketchy, so rain was a constant thought as we prepared. Sure enough, as we hung paper lanterns in the reception tent on Friday it poured. Little streams ran across the brick floor; it was too wet to set the lanterns down. And it kept on pouring, one thing and another. After the rain it poured wind. Then it poured sunshine. Then a bald eagle soared over the clearing, and a perfect storm of blessing began. We held the rehearsal in the meadow, where autumn colors poured from the trees.

The day of the wedding we were continually showered—but not with rain. Drenched in the warm autumn sun, flooded with color and life, we were showered with beauty. Dan and Jill dripped with loveliness and confident gratitude. Of course they were gorgeous. They were baptized by immersion in love and joy. They poured their hearts out to one another. Friends and family showered them with blessing. The prayers and good will of those who couldn’t be there washed over them. All Creation wrapped its arms around them with tears of joy. And they knew it. They trusted the great outpouring of love. They pledged their faithfulness to each other and entered the great river of faithful love that flows from God into all the world and changed everything. And all of us waded in and splashed each other with that joyous, life-giving water. The blessing was not just for them. It was poured out on all of us. For a moment you could just stand there in the meadow and notice how lovely we are, and how beloved. It poured, all right.

Sometimes the clouds fool us. Sometimes the sun breaks through and we see clearly how blessed we are. That’s the promise of God’s marriage to us. No matter what’s out there, someone thinks you’re lovely, and is grateful that you’re here, and blesses you. It’s all about blessing. Deep, abundant, free-flowing blessing. Let it pour.

_________________
Weather Report

Loveliness,
descending from the highest levels
and condensing in each person,
increasing throughout this whole
Day of Creation,
with not at all isolated showers
of 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

A wedding

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
This weekend our son is getting married. As Pastors, Beth and I have performed hundreds of weddings, but as parents we’re rookies. This one will be outside, on a farm in New Jersey. Maybe it will rain. Showers are possible. But even if it’s a downpour, it will be lovely: even if his tux is soaked and she falls in the mud and the goats eat her flowers and the cake is soggy and the tent collapses and the band sneaks off to the barn and eats all the food and the cows get out, he will still say “I do,” she will say “I do,” and the pastors will say “Amen.” That’s what’s going to happen. The rest is pictures.

Of course we hope for nicer pictures than all that. But the point is that this is a celebration of Dan and Jill’s loving faithfulness, not the weather.

Loving faithfulness is always what it’s all about. Reality itself is an expression of God’s love. “All things came into being through the Word.” The good news is repeated over and over: “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Some people think God is objective about us, undecided, a bit distant, and could condemn us or ignore us. But our Heavenly Lover has made a Covenant with us, a promise of unconditional love, regardless of the weather around us or within us. God isn’t waiting till we die to decide whether to be with us forever. God’s goodness isn’t dependent on ours. God is in love with all Creation, and wholly devoted. Life is the Beloved’s marriage to us. The whole world is God’s wedding ring, given in steadfast love and fidelity. Every sunrise is wedding music. Every breath is God’s “I do.”

We hope for all sorts of smaller blessings—good weather, good food, good hair, good health, good feelings, good parking. But deep down you know how minor those things are. Our deepest hope is for God’s good love, God’s unfailing presence. And that’s a done deal. A promise. None of life’s uncertainties can change that—the delights and disasters, the marvels, the suffering—none of it changes The Absolute: that God loves us like crazy, will be faithful to us forever, will give us everything God owns and do anything to be with us, will die for us; and that even suffering and death will not part us, but bring us closer. We are God’s. God holds us close. And what God has brought together, no one can break apart. That’s the good news—this weekend, and to the end of time.

_________________
Weather Report

Unconditional love,
despite variable conditions:
faithful, steady love and grace,
with a chance of scattered showers
of fear, sorrow, hilarity, tragedy,
exuberance and hail.
One hundred percent chance
of divine presence.
This is not a prediction.
It’s a fact.

         •

         
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

No answer

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

        Job said, “I cry to you and you do not answer me;
                I stand, and you merely look at me.”

        Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:
        “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
                Tell me, if you have understanding.
        Who determined its measurements—
                surely you know!
        Or who stretched the line upon it?
                On what were its bases sunk?
        Who laid its cornerstone
                when the morning stars sang together
                and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?
        Or who shut in the sea with doors
                when it burst out from the womb?”

                          —Job. 30.20, 38.4-8

We want answers.

God gives us presence,
but not answers.
Loving attention, gazing at us from within,
faithful companionship,
walking with us through this amazing Creation,
all of it fashioned in a love and wisdom
that we can’t comprehend,
with wild art and crazy beauty
and boundless love–
this Creation that holds us and births us
and cherishes us even in our mortal unravelings,
offers us delights in its steady hands,
even in our tragedies–
reverence that ours can’t even imitate,
purpose that the human mind can’t read
any better than the poetry of the time before time,
forgiveness, mercy and delight–
but not answers.

Beyond all suffering and pleasure,
reason and meaning,
our desperate clutch at making sense,
the love God gives us
doesn’t need to become any less
than perfect mystery.

No answer,
just God.

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.

Not to be served but to serve

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         The Human one came not to be served
         but to serve.

                  —Mark 10.45

You who seek the Almighty
high above you
and are disappointed,

whom you must serve
and please, and makes you
nervous in your failure,

look beneath
for the Humble One,
your servant,

who makes no demands,
displays no power,
but makes your life possible,

endures the dirtiest jobs for you,
bears the most brutal burdens,
covers the darkest shame,

offers you the cup of life,
makes your soul shine,
loyal, submits to you,

waits for you
attentively
inside your breath.

         
         
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

The one thing

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

.       “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own,
.       and give the money to the poor,
.       and you will have treasure in heaven;
.       then come, follow me.”

.                —Mark 10.22

 

The one thing you lack is whatever you need to let go of.

Once you have unclenched your fists from your money
there is your health and your family,
your faith, your assurance, your feeling good.
The Beloved waits for you, while you are encumbered
with whatever you’d rather have than God.

The one thing is to go beyond your fear.
Whatever you are afraid to let go of
is what stands between you and coming to God
with open arms and empty hands,
trusting that what you’ve lost you will receive
a hundredfold in this age,
and in the age to come eternal life.

Take off that bulky coat of fear.
Allow yourself to come to a place
where what you treasure is paltry
compared to what you receive.

Thread the needle.
Let go of everything, now, in this moment.
In the perfect poverty of prayer
walk away from it all to God,
poor and naked, alone and without recourse.
Utterly needy and dependent, fall helplessly
into God’s waiting arms,
where you will receive,
Beloved,
you will receive.

 

 

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