Gardener God

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard;
         and he came looking for fruit on it and found none.
         So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years
         I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree,
         and still I find none. Cut it down!
         Why should it be wasting the soil?”
         The gardener replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year,
         until I dig around it and put manure on it.
         If it bears fruit next year, well and good;
         but if not, you can cut it down.”

                  —Luke 13.6-9

Gardener God,
they said you were the one with the ax,
the demanding one, the avenging punisher—
but you are not him. You are the giver of life,
the one with nothing but loving care,
not one who commands, for whom I must produce,
but one who tends me, so that I bear fruit.
Yes, you are the one who protects me from the other!
I look for you looming above me and you are not there.
You are beneath, digging at my roots.

Will you forgive me if I flinch when I see the ax?
Will I let you dig around me,
loosen the soil I count on to hold me fast?
Will I welcome the manure, and all that it means,
for my nourishment?
Will I let your grace into my deepest roots?
Will I hear your voice not of threat but of nurture?
Will I recognize that greater power?
Will I let your manure of utter self-giving and death
bear fruit in me?

Gardener God,
tend to me
and I will bear the fruit of your love.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections

The soul’s hunger

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         A dialogue on the soul’s hunger:
         Isaiah 5 and Psalm 63

Abundant one, you bless me with your promise:

         “Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
                  and you that have no money, come, buy and eat!
         Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”

but in dry, barren places within,
still I long for you, I don’t find you;
I’m on my hands and knees.

                           O God, you are my God,
                                    I seek you, my soul thirsts for you;
                           my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land
                                    where there is no water.

And then—I confess: in my hunger I seek
consolation in many other things, many places…
but they are not you. They don’t give me life.

         “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
                  and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

But you do not starve me. You lead me to life.

         “Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
                  and delight yourselves in rich food.
         Incline your ear, and come to me;
                  listen, so that you may live.”

So I return to you.
I am mindful of your presence.
I listen for your Word, and I receive life.
In you I am deeply nourished. My soul is feasted!

                           So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
                                    beholding your power and glory.
                           Because your steadfast love is better than life,
                                    my lips will praise you.
                           My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
                                    and my mouth praises you with joyful lips.

Help me, Generous One,
to me mindful of you always.

                           I will think of you on my bed,
                                    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
                           for you have been my help,
                                    and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
                           My soul clings to you;
                                    your right hand upholds me
.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections

In February woods

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         
In February woods,
snow-stilled and deep,
harsh cold and dark and wind,
earth mostly still asleep,
I hear a single bird
whose thin, high song
we lately haven’t heard.
Its happy, hopeful word
would be a bright cliché
most days, but not this cold
and early, not today.
The old, enduring vow
sung in a rough or lonesome
place is news enough—
sufficiency of grace.

_______________________
Weather Report

Life,
remaining constant despite
changing conditions of improbability,
producing wonder and a sense of
something given, and awareness of
inclusion in something even greater
than the subtropical westerlies.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections

The geese on the brook

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

The geese on the brook
are as calm as the snow.
Who leads them to this place?
Other than the water
their muscular bodies,
their long necks are the only things
that are not mere underlining for snow.
They rest on the bank,
they float on the obsidian water,
their reflections blacker than the pond.
Today they are saying very little.
This is a fine place for them,
where they can be still,
but not a place of beauty or a shrine;
their temple is much greater,
their peace much wider.
There is food here, there must be,
beneath the black mirror,
the white hands of the snow,
and rest. They sit without concern.
After some time they will unfold
the maps of their wings
and be on their way.
I marvel at this grace,
as I cross the brook toward home.
They will find their way.
They will find their way.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections

You tell that fox

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         

         They told him “Herod wants to kill you.”
         He said, “Go and tell that fox for me,
         I do my work, and on the third day I finish.
         …
         Jerusalem, Jerusalem… How often have I desired
         to gather your children together
         as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…”

                  —from Luke 13. 31-35

Jesus, my man, my hope, my strength,
why did you have to go and say that?
My Lord, my Resurrection,
you know I want to love you,
the tender one who always rises
victor, to the top.
You know I want to trust in you
to give my life for something large,
to follow you forever,
like the sun rises forever,
like the river flows forever.
You know I want you, Lord.
Why don’t you be a lion,
roaring over her cubs,
why not a mother bear
nobody wants to mess with?
Why not be mighty? Why not last?
Oh, Jesus, Jesus, don’t make me weep
for you weeping over us like that.
Not like that.
Why tell that fox, that fox,
his bullying eyes, his greedy teeth,
why tell that fox you want to be
a mother hen?

All right then, Jesus, be my mother hen.
Old Herod’s tail is twitching.
You hold your little wing around me, Lord,
your tender little mama wing.
You’ve got me, Jesus. You tell that fox
you’ve got us all.

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Today and tomorrow

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         

         Some Pharisees came and said to him,
         “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”
         He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me,
         “Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures
         today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work.

                  —Luke 13.31-32

Jesus looks at the forces of death,
geared up for the raid,
the jaded dealers of oppression and fear
with their swords and their guns,
the powers, who own the jails
and write their laws
on the backs of the poor,
he looks the powers in the eye
and says to them, “Today,
in this present moment,
and the next day, that follows without fail,
I am doing my healing. And on the third day,
it is already too late for you.
You will already have failed to stop me.”

He looks at his rejection and suffering,
his dying, his death, his being dead,
he looks it in the eye and says,
“Today and tomorrow I am giving life.
On the third day, it is too late for you.
I will have accomplished it.
You have already failed.”

Lord, grant us the courage to confront evil
in whatever forms it presents itself,
the faith to trust the miracle of compassion,
the ability of powerlessness,
and the arresting power of your grace.
Grant us the love to follow the little man
with love and a death sentence.

For even now he goes about
raising people up,
and what he has done is done,
and it can never be undone.
Amen.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Psalm 27

God, you are my daylight; you are my survival.
         Who could make me afraid?
I am inside you, like a fortress.
         There’s no reason for fear in here.
When those intending evil come at me,
         they will trip on their own weapons.
Though evil rise up to carry me off,
         my soul won’t go there.
Though I’m surrounded by enemies
         that will not concern me.
One thing I care about. One thing I live for:
         to live in your presence every moment,
to notice your beauty,
         to live in wonder.

When there’s trouble you take me into your own home;
         you hold me in your blanket and sing.
         You set me in a strong and safe place.
My heart is not concerned with what others think;
         I ‘m too joyful for that, singing your praise,
         grateful, my whole life a love song to you.

God, you hear my speechless prayers.
         I know that you listen with grace.
My soul is tugging in your direction,
         to see you, to behold you,
         to take in your presence here before me.
You are not hiding; you’re not angry;
         you have no need to push me away.
Your only will is to bless,
         never to cast us out, never to forsake us.
You have saved my life
         from meaning nothing.
If even my parents disowned me
         I would still be yours.

Show me the life you give me, O Lord.
         Lead me on your peaceful path.
Don’t let my weaknesses get the better of me.
         Don’t let me get caught up in people’s soap opera,
         or return violence for violence.
Your goodness will prevail in this world,
         and I know I will see it:
         your presence at the heart of all life.
I will be still for you. This mystery I trust.
         I will wait for you.

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections

The beckoning will be your home

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

         “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans,
         to give you this land to possess.”

                  —Genesis 15.7

         Our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there
         that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
         He will transform the body of our humiliation
         that it may be conformed to the body of his glory.

                  —Philippians 3.20-21

         The Lord is my light and my salvation;
                  whom shall I fear?
         The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
                  of whom shall I be afraid?

                           —Psalm 27.1

The promise seldom comes as a voice—
more like a nudge, a beckoning from nowhere
that tips you off balance
and something in you keeps walking,
something in the part of you
that is beyond you.

The beckoning itself will be your home,
a belonging from elsewhere
that will lead you through strange places,
dry places where you are the only one,
where others refuse to understand,
and the dark, confusing alleys of the unknown,
but belonging still,

a home from which you can’t be removed,
that moves with you
like the moon through the trees,
a presence that does not send you
but accompanies you,
walking the most frightening streets with you,
holding you close under the sheets of your despair,
knowing what you are too weary to see,
the body of your humiliation
radiant with glory,
by nothing but love.

Walk on, and do not be afraid.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Path in the wilderness

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness,
         where for forty days he was tempted.

                  —Luke 4.1

I took a long hike in the desert, following a faint trail. Sometimes the path was not marked, not clear, little more than a six inch wide smudge of a different texture of sand between the rocks. I could not look across the landscape and see where it would take me. It was one step at a time. I had to trust the walking on it of those who had gone before. I really had to pay attention.

The other night I walked in the dark woods, the snow dark gray, the black trees only slightly darker. I couldn’t see the path; only the faint blur of footprints in the snow directly before me. I was not alone.

Sometimes the closest we come to the Word of God is not a voice, but faint footprints before us. Sometimes the closest we come to faith is not knowing or believing, but walking in those footsteps, hearing nothing, following.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Temptation

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan
         and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness,
         where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.

                  —Luke 4.1-2

Dear Gentle God, I am not tempted to turn flint into rye, to be able to fly—or even drift nicely—or to bow down to some guy in a red suit and a tail so the kingdoms of the world worship me. Jesus knew he couldn’t do magic, defy gravity or make people like him. But I do want to have power and to be in control of my life, to avoid suffering or struggle, and to manage what other people think of me. I am tempted to make of things something that they aren’t. I’m tempted to take the comfortable route. I’m tempted to expect that you should protect me from difficulty. And I really want to make people like me.

In this sere land of desire, God, rip these idols from my hands. They do not help me live true life. They take me away from myself. Deprive me of these lies. Strip me naked of my costume and cast me into this wilderness. Let me wander, far from my comfortable mirages and delusional caves. Let me fast from falsehood and distraction. Let me suffer this thirst for you, this deep hunger for my true self, until I surrender everything false and fall into you, who are my heartbeat and my breath. You are the wilderness. You are the Way.

I live not by bread alone, but by the word that comes from your mouth. Give me this life, God, and nothing else. In the silence, in the fasting, in the long struggle, in giving all away, may I find you alone. And may I find myself: blessed without control, and whole without security, and beloved without others’ assent. Life-giving God, walk with me into the desert, and bring me home. Amen.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections