Because you are small

         
         Let the little children come to me;
                  do not stop them;
          for it is to such as these
                  that the Realm of God belongs.

                  —Mark 10.14

Gentle One,
you come as a child among us:
small and weak, vulnerable, dependent.
You ask of us the love and patience to listen
with gentleness and generosity,
to receive you and your noise and your needs,
to make room and time for you.

Christ crucified,
you are the Little One among us,
you are the poor and unprivileged,
the neglected and abused.
You are the boy soldier,
you are the trafficked child,
you are the infant refugee,
you are the black youth who must live afraid.
For you I pray.

I pray not for how we treat you in the sanctuary
but how we treat you in the streets.
I pray for healing
for a world that wounds its children,
that sacrifices you because you are small.

I pray for your divine presence
in the children of the poor,
your genius and beauty in them,
your power and promise for us all,
if only we will welcome you
with honor, safety and care.

I pray for the welcome of little ones,
for a world that becomes a safe home for you,
a whole family.

God,
child,
I pray for you.

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

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Perfected in suffering

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist,
         in bringing many children to glory,
         should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
         For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified
         all have one Life-Giver.
         For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.

                  —Hebrews 2.10-11

No, suffering is not good for you.
It doesn’t perfect you,
like a blade ground on a stone.

Being perfected
is not about being flawless.
It’s about being loving.

Jesus’ loving was made perfect
in his willingness to suffer
with those who suffer,
to be one with them,
to let them be
his sisters and brothers.

                  •

         Pioneer of my salvation,
         take me with you.
         Perfect your love in me.
         Give me love so deep
         for my sisters and brothers
         I am not afraid to suffer
         for them, suffer with them.
         Pioneer of my wholeness,
         be my pioneer in pain;
         take my afflictions up into yours;
         that in our shared suffering
         we may lose our lives in God,
         who is perfect love,
         the Giver of Life.

                  •

A breath prayer:
My wounds… your wounds.

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

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If only we knew

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
Last night a lunar eclipse
reddened, deepened,
said its prayers above our heads,
shared its vision of darkness

and light, movement and embrace,
of roundness, withdrawal and return,
the grace of shadowed loveliness,
a hymn of mystery chanted soft.

We stood in awe on our porch,
necks craned, while I’m sure many
slept or partied or did dishes
or stared at TVs, unaware.

If only someone had told them,
some TV host, “Go outside,”
some crazy neighbor,
“You’re missing beauty.”

But no one told them.
They snacked, or tinkered.
They went to bed believing
in a world without such marvels.

Grace moves in shadows,
and wonders are given
that we would see
if only we knew to look.

This is why we study and pray:
to know of the work of God,
unseen. To know to look.
To be ready to see.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

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Running in a foreign land

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
      
         
                  
I am in a foreign country,
distance running, pushing myself,
hoping to better my time.

I am a stranger among people
whose tongue I do not know,
finding my way in a land I don’t know.

As I press on, pushing hard,
I think of the Apostle Paul
traveling the Mediterranean,

spreading his good news to people
whose tongue he doesn’t know,
finding a way to communicate.

I’m tired, my legs ache, but I run on. 
I think of my breathing, my pace,
my goal, my focus, my desire.

I fight the urge to back off,
stick with my resolve to improve,
and go on, always onward,

keeping in mind my purpose,
the course I will finish:
to be kind, to be kind.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

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The prayer of the righteous

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         Confess your sins to one another,
                  and pray for one another,
                  so that you may be healed.
         The prayer of the righteous
                  is powerful and effective.

                           —James 5.16

Nothing softens our hearts like honesty.
Nothing is stronger
than people who are bare-hearted with each other
in humility and gentleness.

Nothing heals our hearts like forgiveness.
Nothing is wiser than people who pray
in humility and gentleness for those who struggle,
counting themselves among them.

Nothing is as powerful as the harmony of God.
Nothing is as effective as the asking for grace
of those who trust grace
for those who need it.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

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Equinox

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

The first day of autumn here,
gardens giving away their gifts,
leaves beginning to turn the pages
of their death.

In the Southern world
it is not autumn but spring,
soil softening, seeds cracking,
branches opening their hands.

Either way
it is a season
of letting go.

__________________
Weather Report

Release;
expect gradual seasonal winds
with occasional sudden squalls,
as life moves through your life.
Throughout the day
much that you possess evaporates,
and much that you fear,
eventually leaving little but you
and the One Who Loves You.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

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Salt me

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         Everyone will be salted with fire.
         Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness,
                  how can you season it?
         Have salt in yourselves,
                  and be at peace with one another.

                           —Mark 9.49-50

My bland will, afraid to commit,
my ill-preserved will, self-seasoned,
O God, salt with the fire of your mercy.
For only deep self-giving
is true peace.

Bring out my true divine flavor,
my savory holiness,
with the salt of your grace.
For only love is real food.

My lukewarm will,
my hope and courage
still unkindled, still unspent,
salt with the flame of you.

Preserve my fruit; save my soul;
protect me from rot:
salt my life away for your pleasure.

Prepare me for your use:
cook me through with mercy,
saturate my flesh with the salt
that changes all that is not love;
your flame consume all that is not you.

For only in you
do I burn with light.
Only in you
do I taste of heaven.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

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Cut it off

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off;
         it is better for you to enter life maimed
         than to have two hands and to go to hell,
         to the unquenchable fire.

                  —Mark 9.43

What is this hand in me, hanging on,
grabbing for what I do not need?

The clinging hand, white knuckled, fretting,
leads me and gets stuck in narrow places.

Grasping, be done. That yearning,
die in me. That whole hand, cut it off. Let it go.

The hand to possess, the foot to be elsewhere,
the eye to colonize, let them go. I am already myself.

Away with longing forever to be otherwise.
Better to enter life—yes, come in, come all the way in—

than stay in the grave the hand holds tight,
the unquenchable fire of not being enough.

Bend my wanting of trinkets, God. Give me thirst
for what is poured into me.

Unable to add to my infinite life,
I will only be this, alive.

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

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Afraid to ask

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         He was teaching his disciples, saying to them,
         “The Human One is to be betrayed into human hands,
         and killed, and three days after being killed,
         be raised again.”
         But they did not understand what he was saying
         and were afraid to ask him.

                  —Mark 9.31-32

God says, “I will die for you”
and we think, ”How sweet.”
God says, “You will murder me.”
We check our phones.

Jesus opens up the great hole in us—
our fear of loss, our doubt of our worth,
our unbelief in our sin
or in God’s outlandish self-giving—
and pours himself in.
He shows us the grave, gaping, open, empty,
but it’s a little beyond us. We’re afraid to ask.

He shows us where to find the Beloved,
among the betrayed, here in the knot of our blame,
but we don’t want to know. Every time.

Come close, look in his hands: he holds
the knotted tangle, the clotted heart and its miracle,
the throbbing wound with light in it.
The key that uncages. Our secret wings.
Come with him to the abyss, the luminous lip,
where we pull back.
A white bird flies over our heads,
out over the edge, and far beyond.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

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Why it’s hard to love

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
It’s hard to love someone really,
especially the annoying, the arrogant, the cruel,
because I want to be separate from them.
I don’t want to be one with them,
soiled by their sin, associated with their dirt.
I want to push their boat off in a good direction
but not be in their boat.
But to love someone
is to cease judging the cruel as more cruel than I.
To love someone is to go to heaven or hell with them,
to put my arm around them and go together.
To lay aside my private little self
and be part of our divine oneness.

God leaves the perfect halls of heaven
to be one of us, to be us,
mucked in our grime, weak as the weakest of us,
blamed with our worst, frail, faulty and failed.
It’s not the gracious, condescending gesture
to the needy that makes it love;
it’s the absence of distance, the common wound,
it’s the arm around one, walking the way with one,
the resurrecting grace of giving your whole self away,
changing someone’s life by giving them yours.
It’s hard to love really because you have to die.
You disappear. You stop being separate,
stop being a little “one” so far from the “other,”
and be One. Less than that is zero.

But it’s easy to love, really,
when finally in our failure we give up
and throw away our pretensions of virtue,
and dump out the cardboard box
of our our whole useless heart and all its little pieces,
and, becoming so emptied… wait,
and God fills us with God’s only love
that flows through us without our having to bother
with the work of getting in its way.

It’s hard to love really,
until we empty out
and shine.

         
         
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

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