You have come to run and dance

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

You have come to this planet
to run and dance
and to cheer,
and you have done so.
And, Beloved, you
with the wind in you
and the fire in you,
with the Beloved in you,
when the bombs
of someone else’s
anger and despair
exploded you
and for a moment
you lay in the street,
unable,
and others carried you —
(shattered open,
you finally know
it is forever, now,
for we have done
so much more than cheer,
holding our blood
in each other’s hands) — 
that was not an end
but an awakening:
the anger and despair
are not yours.
You have come
to run and dance.
The wind blows
through your broken ruins
and they get up, borne,
and they will get up,
and they will dance,
and you will go on running,
running
on your mangled legs,
dancing
on your stumps and devices,
running to the infinite finish,
wildly dancing,
elegantly, sorrowfully,
beautifully dancing,
celebrating
every perfect one who runs by
on their wounded feet,
all of us carrying each other
across our many ribboned
finish lines,
and all of us,
even the despairing,
will finish.
         
         

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

Small and green

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

         
         

In these early spring days
before their fullness
the trees have a light in their eyes,
the packed, swelling buds,
these delicate feathers and fingers,
(and the blossoms,
the crazy blossoms!)
and then the tiniest leaves,
little baby exclamation points,
raised eyebrows
freckling the changed woods.

To attain individuality
and courage and creativity
you don’t have to do some
outlandish thing.
Just let the beauty
of the Beloved
deep within
come out.

The birds
just can’t stop talking about it.
         
         

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

God will wipe away every tear

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
See, the home of God is among mortals. God will dwell with them; they will be God’s peoples. The Holy One will personally be with them, and will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.
        — Revelation 21.3-4

This is a mystery. For how can we love if we cannot suffer? Yet this seems clear: the sorrows of this world, the deep sadness that shapes so much of how we live, all our pain and regret is passing. God’s tender, comforting presence and God’s gentle healing are eternal. The sorrows we feel arise from loss, but in the Realm of the Beloved there is no loss; all things are one. Even death is not as powerful as love. What we love cannot be taken from us because we are one with them. Our deep presence in one another is eternal; everything else is passing away. The illusion of our separateness is strong, and it is this illusion that causes us grief. But in God’s love we realize our oneness, and each moment is a gift, without regret for what it might otherwise have been. There is always joy in the present moment.

We also weep for one anther. We mourn for those who suffer; we weep with them and suffer with them. And, weeping, we work for the day when their suffering is lifted, when the power of evil, injustice and oppression is finally overcome. So it is good to hold this vision before us, this promise of the day when God wipes every tear from our eyes. We ourselves will not do it. Ultimately it is the grace of God, the Love at the heart of all things, the blessedness of our oneness, that will. Meanwhile we accept the power God gives us to work for that day. We live in hope of that day— hope that is not mere wishful thinking, but confidence that that reality is already part of us, that this world’s suffering is passing away, but the tender mercy of God is present, and powerful, and infinite.

May this give you peace and strength and comfort, guide you on your way, and give you courage to live with mercy and love.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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Clean and unclean

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

         
         What God has made clean, you must not call profane.

                  —Acts 11.9

Since Cain and Abel we have struggled
to free ourselves from the serpent’s lie
that we would know good and evil,
making half of God’s Creation into
something not good, unclean, unacceptable,
and crusading though the world with this
sword, this bomb, piously wiping out
whoever we judged to be deserving of ill
and beyond our compassion. Terrorists of
God we are, carrying out our jihad against
God in the name of a purity that we only
imagine, a division that does not exist.
The real striving is against our own lie.
The real discernment we are charged with
is to see what God has made clean beneath
the delusion of our judgment and to honor
that divine gift. It is to see what gives life
and what diminishes, to see what is love
and what is less, and to purify ourselves
in love. For judgment itself is profanity.
Anything other than love is profane.
When we are able to see the holy
in every place and person, when we see
with eyes of compassion, this alone is
what breaks their chains. Destroying
the illusion of their profanity, we set them free.
We give life. We join together with God
in the mending of the world, making
all things clean, renewing Creation.

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

A breath prayer

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment,
         that you love one another.
         Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
         By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
         if you have love for one another.”

                  —John 13.34-35

         A Breath Prayer

Be still. Be aware that God is with you,
loving you, embracing you,
love welling up in you like a spring,
the Beloved perfecting love in you.
Simply let this loving presence be with you.
Give your deepest intention to receiving God’s love,
breathing it in, letting it change you and give you life,
and breathing it out, letting it flow into the world
in all that you do.

Mindful of this, pray repeatedly,
breathing in, then breathing out:

         As you have loved me …
         so I love.

Let it become like a tune you can’t get out of your head.
Carry the prayer with you through the day.

         As you have loved me …
         so I 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

Good Shepherd

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
The Good Shepherd holds his little lambs,
his tender little beloved ones in his arms,
holds the whole neighborhood:
the frightened ones huddling in their houses,
the brave ones surrounding the suspect,
the crowd down the street clamoring
for the capture of the criminal,
with plenty of names for him,
and reasons for him to suffer.
The Good Shepherd holds them all,
good and bad, and, holding them,
holds them all together, even
the frightened one lying in his blood,
bewildered by his own cruelty,
the evil for which he can never atone,
the past and all the futures he’s erased,
his reasons for others to suffer—
with everyone against him now,
alone in the world, his brutal solitude,
in the desperate boat hiding under the tarp,
the Good Shepherd, weeping,
holds his little stray lamb, and all of us,
because, my friend, all of us
are in the same tender arms.
Every one of us
is in the same
boat.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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Earth psalm

         
         
Earth of me, womb of me, whole of my life,
vast swirling winds of my lungs,
wide heaving seas of my blood,
mountains of my heart,
and my imagination’ deserts, steppes and jungles,
greening branches of my fingers,
all you interwoven species of me,
living beings unseen in my ocean depths —
praise! Praise the hand that makes you,
gives you life and sends you forth each day.

For your deep generosity, life overflowing,
beauty astounding and close-woven love
I thank you! I praise you! I sing you! I live!

I am your spring, your sprout, your blossom,
I am your breathing, your dreaming, your hope;
of your billowing, your billions, your teeming,
I am one. We are one. We are one.

Earth of us, river and grasses and stone,
teach us your patience, your giving, your faith,
teach us to flourish, to nourish, to flow,
with your courage to send out the tendrils of love,
the rivers and currents and jet streams of blessing,
to blossom, audacious, to soak up your sun,
to give and receive life, to be one, to be one.

Earth of us, home of us, whole of us and more,
may we live with reverence, act with care,
evolve with grace, be wounded and heal,
and in all our living praise you, serve you,
and show with abundant and manifold glory
the grace of the One who makes us,
who makes us for each other, and so well,
with such tender and intricate wonder and love.
Praise!

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

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Listen

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

         
         My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.
                  — John 10.27

Listen.
In the temple, at the appointed time—
that’s just practice.
Open the ear of your heart
and listen for the Beloved’s voice
in silence, in the street, under the noise,
in all the voices, in what they never say.
Each moment,
the Beloved wants to speak with you.

                  •

No stranger holds the keys to your life,
no official reads a list.
The Beloved knows you,
fits in your skin,
feels what it’s like,
knows the why and how.
Loves that, not who you could have been.
Listen to the One who knows you.

                  •

Learn to let the Beloved lead you dancing.
Trust the gentle touch, the guiding embrace,
the leading nudge.
Don’t be afraid to leave anything behind
to stay with One who holds your life—
anything.
You will always be waking up in heaven,
always coming home
to yourself,
crazy with 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

Post Traumatic Tenderness Syndrome

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
Since the Boston Marathon bombing, people around here have been more gentle, respectful and attentive than usual. Even Boston traffic is oddly kindhearted. We see this after large traumas like 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, Newtown: following a serious tragedy we’re not only a bit shaken, and not just determined to keep calm and carry on. We’ve also been opened up. We’re more human, more true to ourselves. We’ve entered into the world’s pain. We’ve been made aware that we’re fragile beings, that everyone we meet is likely to have suffered— and also that our choices make a difference, and that we can make this world better in small acts of kindness. For a moment, sometimes wrapped in the mantle of heroism — “We won’t let them win, we’ll be strong”— we are moved to reveal who we most deeply are: good, kind, hopeful people.

Of course it will wear off. We’ll become tough and self-centered again soon enough. Our resolve to “never forget” will degrade into mere bitterness or politics. But those of us who live in the radiant shadow of the cross, who follow the Lamb who Was Slaughtered, cannot forget — not in resentment, but in repentance. This is what it means to be “washed in the blood of the lamb.” Tending to the victims of violence, we have been changed. Our eyes have been opened to people’s pain. A great power within us, the divine urge to heal, has taken over us. We have seen God in the suffering, we have faced our own instinct to hurt others, and we have witnessed the consequences of our judgment and selfishness; and we have also experienced the power of compassion, and we have seen God’s amazing forgiveness and healing even before the smoke cleared. We know that the Spirit of this life is love, our true being is goodness, and every person in this world is God’s tender Beloved, worthy of our most heroic care. From now on, if there is blood on our hands it will be because we have rushed in to heal, not to exert our will.

Every once in a while we are given the chance to see: this is who we really are after all, who we are created to be. This is the purpose of our life. We are called to be compassionate, trusting the power of love over fear, with a heightened awareness of others and sensitivity to their suffering and their nobility. So we pray not to “carry on as usual,” but to be changed, to let our old lives of self-serving anxiety die, and to be raised to lives of pure love and hope. We become, each in our own way, part of the healing of the world. It is happening, even now.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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First responders

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

When the bomb goes off
and people flee in terror
seeking safety and shelter
there are those who run
against the crowd, toward
the trauma, the screams,
with healing in their hands,
with peace and presence,
like Jesus, heading for
the lepers, the tortured,
the cross, mindful not of
self but the whole of us,
and like his followers,
attentive to this world
and those about us,
going always unafraid
toward the pain,
calmly entering
the gaping hole.

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