A lament for mental illness

God of mercy,
someone that I love is slowly disappearing,
a dear one taken away inside themselves,
in the thicket of a tangled mind, a broken heart.

I know the person I loved is still in there,
beautiful, noble and dear.
I look in those eyes for a way in,
to see a way out… there is none.

How strange my grief, to lose them so gradually,
torn away, but still in their body,
their life hollowed out,
an empty, cluttered house that haunts me.

My love is rebuffed, my wisdom is useless..
How can there not be a way?

I search your mind. It is as opaque as theirs.
What can I do, then, patient God?
I place them in your care, and myself as well,
for to you no one is lost, no one far.
You love what we cannot see.
You are present where we do not know
and cannot go.

So you must feel, O God, for all your children,
lost and so slow to come home.

Loving One, bless us and keep us.
Today may we be with you in paradise.

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com

A doer of the Word

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
          Be doers of the word,
          and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.

                  —James 1.27

Heavenly Lover,
your Word is neither command nor prediction,
but love, given and received,

Give me ears to hear
beneath the clutter of this world
and the chatter of my mind
your steady love,
your quiet delight.

Give me faith to embody your Word,
to join your love,
to do what increases your delight,
for that alone
increases mine.
Amen.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

Loveliness

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile,
         but the things that come out are what defile.

                  —Mark 7.15

A beautiful diamond wedding ring
caked with mud
is still beautiful and valuable and precious
to her who wears it.

Your worth and loveliness
God created in you,
and you are adored
because you belong to God,
and nothing can take that away—
no abuse or misfortune,
no imagined “deserving,” no pain.

Only your own choices defile you.
And who can say how much of one’s pain,
and how one has learned to bear it,
is a choice, and how much is simply
what happens to you?

God wants most of all to heal you
of your shame.
Leave off judging,
starting with yourself.
Make choices that do not defile
your loveliness and that of all others.

You yourself are God’s diamond ring,
lovely and beloved,
even in the dark
gleaming on God’s hand.

   
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

Everything a gift

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift,
is from above, coming down from the Giver of lights,
with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

— James 1.17

Beloved, every little thing
is a signed card from you.
Every blade of grass and breath of air,
each moment has your blessing in it.
Each bit and trinket is a gift.
In every thought or feeling, sight or sound,
there is what that thing says,
and what you whisper besides,
and there is you.
Even in the hurts and disasters
there is your voice, your calm hand,
the unfolding of grace.
At the end of the day
my heart is strewn with wrapping paper.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Wedding feast

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and peace to you.

At a niece’s wedding,
surrounded by extended family,
I marvel at this great web of love.
I talked with a total stranger;
his brother in law is married to my niece,
and now we’re suddenly related.
This is not by our own doing;
Siri and Steve have done this.
The next day, out at the farm,
I watch fields and hills of living things
live together.

God’s loving faithfulness
connects us all,
makes us all one family.
To everyone you meet you are related
by love.
All of life is a work of faithfulness.
Every moment is a feast of joy.

However alone you may feel,
however responsible only for yourself,
you are part of a great faithfulness
and a beautiful celebration.
Vows have been made.
You belong.

Deep blessings,
Pastor Steve

In darkness

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord. Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that God would dwell in thick darkness.”
                  —1 Kings 8.6, 10-12

I am in the dark places.

Don’t panic: dark is not bad, not sad or evil,
just mystery. Unseen.
The blend of within and beyond.

Darkness is where seeds grow, dreams happen,
love is made, life begins.
It is the only place you can see the stars.

The dark places in your life,
that is where I dwell,
and from there I venture out
into brightness.

Close your eyes. I am the eye.
Dwell in silence. It is my voice.
Practice not knowing. It is my wisdom.
In darkness is my glory.
Trust the dark. I am here.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

Hear them, too

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
O Lord my God, heed the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you today; that your eyes may be open night and day towards this house. Hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray towards this place; O hear in heaven your dwelling-place; heed and forgive…. Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a distant land… and prays towards this house, then hear in heaven your dwelling-place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you….
                  —1 Kings 8.28-30, 41-43

God, hear the prayers of those I do not hear.

The temple of this world is yours, not mine;
You, not I, are the master of the house of my life.
May all who are foreign to me be welcome here,
and heard and blessed.
Hear the prayers of those who are against me,
the pleas of those who are not of my likeness,
outside my awareness, beyond my tribe.
Let my life be a house of prayer for all people.
Occupy the temple of my heart and pray there:
when I pray for all for whom I pray,
may your Spirit pray for those for whom I do not pray;
even in my secret heart,
hear them too, and forgive and bless them.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

Blessed are they who are longing

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?”
         Simon Peter answered him, ”Lord, to whom can we go?
         You have the words of eternal life.”

                  —John 6.67-68

Jesus has said too much. He does, sometimes. But it’s because he cares. Now they’re taken aback, bewildered, unsure. Again. But this isn’t a moment for the confident master to teach his befuddled neophytes. Jesus is the vulnerable one, needy and alone. He actually loves these people, and wants the whole of life for them. And he needs them. He needs their friendship, and their help. For a moment the awful possibility occurs to him that he might be all alone. He doesn’t want assent. He wants friendship. He may even be, as he rarely is, a little afraid. In his need and uncertainty and longing he is most human, and most like how God comes among us. He asks them, not as a clever teaching device, but in an earnest query, because he does not know. “Are you going to leave me?” Jesus is the unsure one.

And Peter is not. He blurts out as he usually does, “Where else can we go?” Peter, too, is hungry for life, searching for love and wisdom, waiting for the Lord. And he is certain in this, clear and confident in his quest and faithful to it above all others. Peter knows. “Where would we go? Who else makes things in us that are dead come alive?” The Peter who fearfully but willingly climbs out of the boat to walk on waves with his Lord, climbs out again. His tender longing is his great strength. It is what Jesus needs. In his yearning humanity, Peter also is most like how God comes among us.

The rest of us standing around realize how much our hunger for life and love and God and each other is worth to us, and to God. How much we need each other; how graced we are to be given one another. Blessed are they who are longing, they fulfill God’s longing.
         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight
(at) gmail.com

Armor of God

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         Put on the whole armor of God.
                  —Ephesians 6.11

God, give me grace
to allow you to be my only defense.
I ay aside my capacity, my wisdom, my faith.
I surrender my distractions and obsessions,
my being comfortable, my being right.
Strip me of any defensiveness, anger,
dishonesty or superiority I cling to.
Give me courage to let down whatever shields me
from being one soul with another.
Let me be unprotected against the truth,
against the pain of the world,
the griefs hidden in my soul,
the terror of the dark places,
the heart of the heart before me.
Let me be naked in the light
of being human and imperfect, of having a body.
Give me the power of powerlessness—
vulnerable, willing, sensitive and open.
Be my only shield, my only security.
Let love and truth keep me whole and alive,
your presence alone preserve me,
your delight alone be my weapon and my strength,
my fortress, my life.
God of Love, your light is my armor.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

Your only work

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

A lone bird slips through the air.

You do not have to explain yourself.

The beating of your heart
is one with the vast, wordless song of the stars,
the great hum of the world.

Rivers murmur praise,
deserts and oceans chant their meditations,
cities recite their industrious psalms;
and in your cell, unheard, unknown,
the mystery of heaven unfurls
in your silence.

No one knows your place,
no one.
No one knows your precious belonging.
We can only believe,
or err.

The marigold by the roadside
never knows.
But it is true.

Your only work is to come to trust.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com