In your silence

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
                  
Too long confined in words,
I walk into the ocean
of your silence, release myself
into its spaciousness,
beside myself, become that vast,
become the sea.

It holds me, bears me
safely over rocks
of notions and of knowing,
safely, tenderly carries me
above those shoals
of meaning, even, and believing:

what even you can’t say,
this love too great to fit,
too great to even feel.

I can’t behold the ocean,
the whole sphere of it—
only water on my skin,
wind on my face, the body
of this silence that enfolds me.

Just float.
Just give myself,
and float.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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Police log

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
Excerpts from the Police Log in the Acton, MA Beacon, Thurs. Sept. 26, 2013.

        Sunday 9:09 a.m. Police responded to a report of five or six cows wandering in a yard on Schoolhouse Lane. Animal control contacted.
        Monday 2.14 p.m. Police responded to a harassment complaint on Arlington Street.
        3:15 p.m. Police responded to Hosmer Street regarding a vehicle shipped from Oklahoma that never arrived.
        3:50 p.m. Police spoke to a resident of Cherokee Road regarding questions about stolen identity.
        10.27 p.m. Police responded to Elm Street for a report of suspicious activity at the Douglas School. It was the custodian.
        Tuesday 12:27 a.m. Police and fire responded to a medical emergency on Swanson Road. Patient was transported to Emerson Hospital.
        1:35 p.m. A caller on Spencer Road reported the tenant above her is dropping barbells on the floor to harass her. No noise heard while police were on scene. Advised caller of her rights.
        8:50 p.m. A caller on Great Road reported a male party knocking on his door. Gone when arrived.
        9:31 p.m. A caller on River Street thought someone was in his house on his return, but then determined it was one of his kids. Police confirmed it was accidental.

This is the stuff of God.
God is off somewhere important doing miracles,
managing the cosmos, parting the Red Sea,
bearing the saints across the river of death,
presiding over judgments.
But God is also here: in our little disputes,
our mishaps and mysteries, our various
unremarkable hopes and fears and needs.
God is in the dirty plate, the empty mailbox,
the awkward conversation.
All of it is blessed, all of it.
All of it is accompanied, all of it is holy.

        Wednesday 8:48 p.m. Police responded to an operator driving erratically on Minot Avenue. Police reported no impairment. Driver not familiar with roads.

         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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Psalm 91

You live inside the Holy One. You are her shadow of light.
Go ahead and tell her you love her:
“My home, my shelter, my skin.”

The Beloved will guide you safely around life’s traps,
shield you from what rots you,
cover you with her wings,
wrap you in muscled, gentle arms,
where you are safe and loved.

Those things you worry about at night:
let them go.
Those days you feel shot like an arrow,
stop. You are enough.
God defends you from what sickens you,
keeps you safe from what destroys.

People around you may get anxious—
the whole world may get frantic—
but don’t buy into their fear.
Look and see: evil eats people
from the inside out.

God’s love is your house.
Your safe shelter is Mercy.
It will save you from all evil:
no disaster can get in where you live.

God’s mercy, hidden in this world,
will guard you and guide you.
Unseen hands will bear you along,
catch you when you fall.

You will face powers and dominions unafraid.
You will confront corporations and armies
and be victorious.

“In our love,” God says,
“you are already safely home.
Because we know each other
I will never lose you.

“Call to me, and I answer.
In your troubles I am with you.
Your heart will survive
and I will honor you.
I give you the gift of life as deep as mine,
and love that keeps you whole forever.”

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

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The chasm

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         He called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, “…Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.”
                  —From Luke 16. 19-31

Oh, poor rich man, separated by that gulf. What is it? And who put it there, who fixed that chasm? You ate well, while Lazarus starved outside your gate. You were covered in fine clothes, and he in sores. That gate kept you from seeing, didn’t it? Kept you from Lazarus. Made him seem so different, so unlike you. When you are brought into the unseen world the chasm is even more clear. Lazarus has a name, an identity, but yours is only the name you’ve made for yourself: your riches; you have no other name. You who have only thought of yourself die alone and are buried, but Lazarus who has been ever mindful of you is carried by angels to be with Abraham. When you enter the torment of your self-centeredness, your thirst, your selfishness, your urge to press Lazarus into your service, still they burn in you. And still you separate yourself from him. You call out to “Father” Abraham but he is not your father, is he? He has no family, does he, no sons and daughters? You have no brothers or sisters but those few in your little house, behind that great, blinding, world-closing gate. You don’t understand that Lazarus is your brother. He is still outside your gate, beyond the chasm you have made.

That great chasm is in your heart, the gate between you and the world, and it will remain until you cross it, until you become the brother of the poor. Prophets have told you, and one has even been raised from the dead to call to you, one who ate with sinners and healed the sick, and acted as a brother to the outcast beyond the gate. He is calling now. The torment of Hades is not in the afterlife, but in the secret life beneath this one. It is not punishment or just desserts; it is simply the reality in your heart. Your torment is not eternal; it is in this moment.

The flames are burning in you, flames heavy with the aroma of a sumptuous feast. You lie at the gate of the world, with sores on the inside from having severed yourself from your kin, your blood. It is not too late to change your heart, to cross the gulf and enter the world, and become a brother, a sister to the poor, and find yourself finally in the bosom of Abraham. Will you?
         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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The courage of trees

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

Let us not belittle
the courage of trees
who, passing the wind from
hand to hand,
are wounded by it,
yet bear it gracefully,
the radiant leave-taking,
until they have let go of everything,
surrender in the bending wind,
release themselves
to the tearing and the losing,
and then the cracking stillness,
not knowing, not knowing.
Let us not excuse ourselves
as if they see more than we.
Give them this, that they accept
what is taken from them,
even winters they may not survive,
and that, whatever is granted,
they may be surprised.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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Return

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         
Walking in the woods this morning
I was distracted; my mind wandered
out of the woods, far away from them
and from me. I kept having to return
to the woods, return to this morning,
return to myself. Then I would leave again.

The trees called out to me,
the leaves gently turning fall colors,
the sun reaching its long arms through them
to me, to me walking there,
but I didn’t notice.

But they were still there, weren’t they,
calling to me, reaching out, surrounding me.

Most of the time I don’t notice God
in this world, in the people around me,
in all that is. But God is still there,
calling, reaching out, surrounding.

If we can’t live in holiness all the time
we can remember now and then.
We can return. God is still there,
waiting for us. Each moment
is a return.

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 unfoldinglight8 (at) hotmail.com

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The lean

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         
I went to a Red Sox game last night. There’s something oddly noble about a sport in which the players wear long pants, and hats.

One of my favorite moments in baseball is something you never see on TV, only at the game. The moment the pitcher throws, of course, the batter moves as well, preparing his swing. The magic is that everybody on the field also moves in synch with the pitcher: they bend forward a little, take a step maybe, set their feet apart, ready for something to happen at the crack of the bat. It’s a little dance of shared expectation. It’s not tension, but it is full of possibility. It’s not a big movement, just a little lean toward the batter, but seven people do it all at once, all over the field, like stalks of grass on the prairie all bending in the same wind.

I wonder if this happens in the unseen world. Each moment God prepares to deliver some grace to us, and all the angels, the forces and energies and presences in the world within the world, lean in toward us, ready for something new to happen. Each moment is an opportunity— the arrival of grace. Even difficult times are not problems but opportunities. And the universe awaits our response, moving in harmony with God’s grace. And if in that moment nothing happens, another moment comes, and God winds up to pitch us some grace again. Maybe the Spirit doesn’t just hang around. Maybe it leans in, watching and ready.
         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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I am here

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

         
         

The Holy One says, Beloved, I am here
in the morning light drawing you in light,
in the darkness reaching out from within.

I am in the glass of water, the door
that surrenders to your will,
the creak of a welcoming chair.

Look for me in the faithfulness of shadows,
the branches of trees that open to infinity,
the angles of light in the city.

Listen for me in the roar of the city’s prayers,
the moment in a conversation you pass by a clearing
into something vast, and then move on.

I will wait for you in each bite of your food,
hide behind the slippery stone of scripture,
speak to you in silence, my name, my tongue.

In the ticking clock I am knocking.
I will come to you in every breath,
in every neighbor who stands before you.

Every stranger brings my grace to you
as an angel from the other world,
like a wave from China, or fruit from Ecuador.

Beloved, I am here. Awaken.
You will not see or hear, or even know.
But I am here. Let me be with you.

         
         

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

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Surrender

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
Mid-September. The sunrise is getting late, creeping around the side of the house a little farther each day. Garden leaves are curling. A new set of kids are waiting for the bus now. This morning they are finally willing to wear coats. A sheet is draped over the morning glories on the mailbox against the night cold. In the meadow the rising sun lays its yellow fan among the trees, the grass the color of the rising sun. Trees begin to emerge from the solid green of summer into different shades of yellow and ochre, some reds. Here and there a tree goes ahead, a single branch flames out. Overhead a squiggle of geese pass by, schoolgirls chattering on their way south, only at the moment they’re headed east. The Panellis have built a ramp up to their front porch. The flowers in the pot that I broke are doing OK in the new pot I stuck them in, though it’s too small. The old pieces are still lying there, behind the corner of the porch. I need to call my sister. In the early morning the ornamental grasses wear little crowns of light.

Surrender looks different for each of us.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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For the hurt of my people

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt,
                  I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.
         Is there no balm in Gilead?
                  Is there no healer there?
         Why then has the health of my poor people
                  not been restored?

                           —Jeremiah 8.21-22

Lay aside the armor of your little troubles.
Quit your sordid affair with happiness.
Enter the black-draped house and stay there.
Your sister and brother are in the mourning parlor,
and they need you to sit with them.
Christ is not consorting with angels above,
but still among the slaves and prisoners,
mothers helpless beside their children,
the scum, the used, the lonely and despairing.

Let your heart be ruined with them.
It is for them, yes, and for you—since hearts,
like seeds, give life when broken open.
But first it is for love of God
(imagine the tears of God that no one dries),
that God should not weep for her children alone.
Even if it changes nothing— will you do this?
Come sit with God in our overflowing grief,
for the heart of God is hidden in the wound of the world.
What privilege is higher than to be shoulder to shoulder
with Christ, his hand on yours, carrying the cross?

Don’t expect it to get better, to stop hurting. It won’t.
Don’t be afraid to mourn for the world,
to bear the wound too deep in you to be patched,
to stay sad a long time, without demanding relief.
For here in the deep root of our pain is our oneness,
and here is the Heart at the heart of the world.
The wailing of a God who is not easily consoled
is the sound of a love that is never overcome.
Our sorrowful longing is the Spirit of God,
who creates worlds. Our hurt is our hope.

         
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 unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com

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