On vacation

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted
         by many things;
         there is need of only one thing.”

                  —Luke 10.41-42
               
Martha wanted help doing the work. It was a reasonable request. It’s a consistent pressure in our lives, to be helpful. To have work. To do our part. To earn our keep. But we become attached to it. It sickens in us; it becomes fear of not being useful, not being worthy. Fear of being ourselves.

Sometimes “our part” is simply to be. Sabbath is time that is holy because in it we are not Creators, creating our world and our worth, but creatures. Our worth is not derived from our contribution, but from our having been created by God. Period. Like an infant in its grandparent’s arms, we are loved simply because we exist. In sabbath time we focus on the one thing needed— to be in relationship with our Creator.

So we sit. At the feet of the Human One, we sit and practice being a child of God. We practice being. We practice trusting that God loves us unconditionally, independent of anything we do, even whether we believe or love or pray. And we practice trusting that the world will get on fine without us.

Every day we take some time to simply be without doing. Every week we take a day. And every once in a while we take a vacation.

So I will. I’m taking a month off. I’ll let go of my work, and I’ll let go of Unfolding Light. I’ll not do anything useful, but just sit (in a car, for a lot of it) with Jesus. And Beth. And our boys. And family. I’ll mostly just be. Though I do promise I will do the dishes.

I’ll see you in late August.

         
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

At the beach

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
                  
The lad runs up the sand
with his little pail,
and the whole sea in it, sloshing
on his feet and knees,
and pours it out in the hole in the sand
where it disappears, and he laughs
and runs to the sea again.

                  •

I am your little pail, the whole
of you in me, sloshing out
into the world.

                  •

I am the sea in your little pail,
poured out into the world
until I am no more.

                  •

I run back down to the sea,
laughing.

         
         
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

One thing needed

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

         
My dear, my dear,

you are distracted by many things.
         One thing is needed.

Every moment, you are sitting
         at your Teacher’s feet.
Everything that happens
         is an entrance.
Each moment can be a falling,
         a falling in love.

The mouth that speaks this into being
         is right here.
Listen for the voice of the Beloved
         in every breath. Every breath.

Everything else can rot
         or be stolen;
this
         can’t be taken from you.

Nothing else matters.

         Listen.

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

Christ in you

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         This mystery that has been hidden
         throughout the ages and generations
         but now is revealed to God’s saints…
         is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

                  —Colossians 1.27-28

Never mind the lonely trek across the desert
to find your elusive teacher,
nor does your Savior have to come to you.
The Beloved lives inside you,
breathing here, moving in you, moving you,
the silence shimmering in your lungs,
the heat rising, pulsing, pushing,
straining to get out
and love this crazy world.

The life in you is of God.
The Chosen One is in your blood,
your flesh, even your wounds,
bleeding sometimes, and when you bleed
you bleed glory, and when you are weary
the splendor of God rests, and when you suffer
the Gentle One silently accepts your lashes,
and quietly rises again and again.

The Beloved lives inside you, working miracles,
or speaking to you in that silent language,
or sometimes sitting still,
eyes closed, with a little smile,
or maybe just relaxing, looking around,
being at home.
         
         
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

Neighborhood watch

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
I have no objection to the “not guilty” verdict for Trayvon Martin’s killer. He likely did not break Florida’s “stand your ground” laws that enshrine violence. Justice would not have been achieved by feeding him into the Florida prison system. He is not a bad person; he is a symptom of our culture’s violence, fear and racism.           
        
The story is a reverse image of Jesus’ story of the merciful Samaritan: a man with a gun who goes traveling toward a particular destination: looking for “suspicious” persons, seeking and finding one of “them,” and visiting violence on him. How did he think that story was going to end?

When we blame others, when we seek scapegoats, when we project our fear or anger onto others, when we get into an argument, it is good to stop and ask, “What is the destination of my journey? How do I think this story will end?”

Our community does not need to be protected. It needs to be healed. The only path to justice is not a verdict at all, but the practice of learning to see people as people rather than as threats or as one of “them.” We go about in a different kind of Neighborhood Watch program: we see people as neighbors, and keep an eye on our own neighbor-hood, our behavior as a neighbor. We look for opportunities to bless people and to heal communities, looking for ways to breach the boundaries we have placed between “us” and “them.” We look for places where the “neighborhood” is threatened by exclusion, prejudice and dehumanization. When we see “one of them,” we ask, “How can I help restore this person to community?”

The path to justice is befriending the stranger, loving the enemy, living nonviolently. There is no other 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

What dark Samaritan

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

         
         
         
Robbed and wounded on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho,
you lie in life’s rough ditch, unable.
Your strength and your treasure pass you by.

Your shadow sees you and is moved with compassion.
Your pain comes to you.
Your failure bends over you.

Your need for forgiveness bathes your wounds.
Your weakness wraps you in clean bands.
Your unworthiness gathers you in knowing arms.

Your brokenness carries you to safe shelter.
Your poverty says, “Treat this one as my Beloved.
I will return, and pay the cost.”

There is no other grace.
There is no less dangerous life.
There is no other salvation.

Who can tell what stranger will be chosen
without knowledge
as your innkeeper, your care giver?

Who can know what dark Samaritan,
pushed away, will come
back to you in your need?

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

Empire of grace

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

         
         God has rescued us from the power of darkness
         and transferred us into the Realm of the Beloved One,
         in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of s
ins.
                  —Colossians 1.13-14

You wake flinching at the fading dream.
But you no longer breathe that darkness.

The doctors and their disease, their dread,
they have left. You don’t need them now.

You don’t live with him any more.
You are free. You are safe.

The place they threatened to send you
is the place you’ve been rescued from.

You remember the secret annex in the shattered city,
but you are not there any more. Now you can breathe.

All night the dread, the dense darkness. The clock,
the drip. Threatening streets. The doomed quiet.

Then before dawn, footsteps, voices, a shuffle.
Something falling. The door opens. It is the Beloved.

“I forgive you. Forever.”
You are spirited away.

The trap is undone, the prison destroyed behind you.
The soldiers have died and gone to heaven.

A new rule has begun.
You live here now, an empire of grace.

Peasant, astonished at the city’s glory,
this is your place. See there, your name.

This is the world now, this light, this meadow,
this presence. The impossible life, handed to you.
         
         

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

Samaritan

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         But a Samaritan while traveling came near him;
         and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.

                  —Luke 10.33

You are on your way from Jerusalem to Jericho,
going out from the heart of your religion into your daily life.
Along the way you are assaulted.
Whatever your religion has given you is taken.
You are stripped of a good way to present yourself.
You are robbed of your worthiness, whatever is to your credit.

The priest who would receive your sacrifice is not interested.
The Levite who would assure your righteousness does not.
You have no power, no treasure, nothing to offer,
nothing with which to prove or defend yourself.
You are utterly dependent, and deeply alone.
There is no reason to love you.
And your enemy draws near and bends over you.
Your fear, what you reject and despise, looms.

And heals you.
The one you distance makes you a neighbor.
The one you judge shows you mercy.
The one you refuse to love loves you.

We are loved without reason.
We are saved, not successful.
Only the one dependent on mercy can show us mercy.
Only the vulnerable can teach us trust.
We need the poor, to learn to receive.
We need the guilty, to learn to be forgiven.
We need the alien, to see ourselves, and all souls.

Without them, how destitute we are
on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho,
poor and naked, lost in the land of grace,
love draining out of us, ravenously sucking on our egos,
shivering in the rags of our self-sufficiency.

I don’t know about trusting the Lord
what the mother in the projects knows.
I don’t understand forgiveness like the prisoner.
I need to learn humility from the prostitute.
I will truly get mercy only side by side
with those who have no other hope.

The Samaritan I fear and despise
is my teacher, my master,
                                    my savior,
                                                      my Christ.

         
         
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

Sabbath moment

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Morning.
I walk among careless trees

without demands or opinions.
They do not want.

Everything already is.
Nothing is required.

Soon enough I will be good,
I will be worthy,

but first the root, the sanctuary,
where nothing is required of me.

This alone is where I come from,
where I return.

Later, at the table, I pause,
released.

I am with you,
nothing lacking.

Soon enough I will launch
out into my day again,

pull taut the lines
on my little boat,

calculate the breeze,
strain at the waves— but first

I rest in this little harbor of time.
Here, in your silence,

where everything is given,
nothing is required,

I wait upon you
and fulfill all righteousness.

Evening, I lie down.
Nothing is required.

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

Happy New Year!

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you, and a Happy New Year!

Well, why not?
Why not today be the beginning of something new?
What are you waiting for?
Why wait for some flip of the calendar,
some shift of the earth?
The story is not over, nor is it set in stone.
God is still creating, right now.
God is setting free the slaves this very day.
Today is as good as any to make a new beginning,
to turn a corner, to start over.
to do that task you’ve neglected;
to forgive what needs to be forgiven;
to let go of resentment, bitterness and regret;
to restore a broken relationship;
to celebrate what you have been given
and look forward in hope to what will come;
to begin a new way of being;
to be born again.
Today is the day God lets go of your past
and creates you anew.
Today you awaken to the sea parted before you.
This is the day you lay down your shame and fear,
shoulder your hope and start out. Do not wait.
Today is the beginning of a new journey, a new creation.
May you have a blessed new year,
full of grace, full of light, full of life.

This is the day which the Lord is making.
Let us rejoice and be glad in 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