Late afternoon alone in the house

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
Late afternoon,
darkness walks into the neighborhood,
moves from room to room,
wraps me sitting here,
some kind of quiet that seeks time and space.
Its partner stands up in me.

I could deny it, get up and hit the lights.
Turn on the TV and invite a crowd,
some noise.
But I sit, letting the dark soak in,
letting it pile up in drifts,
letting the emptiness open up in me,
the silence slowly dilate.

What is this descent?
Am I depressed? Work-weary? Let down
as the day’s adrenaline drains out?
Should I call a friend?
Why does it seem so perishable?
I sit and wait for it to speak.

No, this is not a loss, but a return,
the opening of a space,
the ripening of a friendship,
not abandonment, but an embrace.
It is the One for whom even
beneath the sigh of distant traffic
or the hum of the refrigerator
my simple breathing,
in and out,
being here,
is enough.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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Thanksgiving

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         

It does not take—although
it could—our breath away,
this warm November day
that should be dense and dark;
instead it gives.

The park is washed: a tide of light
leaves the day’s bright spine
exposed, the clear sun beached
upon the evening’s shore,
reposed where children each
reflect it, young and pure.
How is this day not old
and grey, but yet a bride,
lap full of wedding gifts,

all tied with gold, with light?
It lifts our hearts, too cold,
and too soon winterized,
to watch our children run
in ribbons through the gold,
the bright gift

wrapping strewn, untidy sheets of light,
across the afternoon,
not innocently laughing
jewels into our laps
until our arms collapse,
and we are warm. How can
this laying on of hands
of light, so late, be right?
What are we to remember
of this gilded not-november
miracle of days?
The oracle of praise
this day of Magi lays
abiding at our feet,
the reason given

for tidings of light,
light piled against the trees and benches
against our legs and feet,
against our thoughts of sleet:
God has no oughts, but gifts.

This is our tithe: let light
be more than interlude,
life little more than this—
delight and gratitude.

          [1990]

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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I thank you

         

         
Oh Infinite Love, I thank you.
For the sun, generous and faithful,
for the moon resplendent, I thank you.
For bones and stones and stars and trees,
for light and gravity and photosynthesis,
for metabolism and the miracle of nerves
and the mystery of eyes I thank you.
For the colorful parade of evolution,
for all species and our amazing diversity,
and each person, each in our own way
trying to find love, I thank you.
For the earth and its abundant provision,
its patience and acceptance, I thank you.
For every bite I eat, its genesis in your love
and in the earth, and every species and person
in its long road to my mouth, I thank you.
I thank you for those who have blessed me,
known or unknown, for those I love,
for those whom I shall one day bless, I thank you.
For the gift of my faith and doubts,
my pains and exultations, for all my tears
and the divine gift of laughter, I thank you.
For your love, coming to me through so many,
and through the air, flowing in and through me,
for the grace to love, I thank you.
I thank you for the gift of gratitude
and pray that it may always bless me,
sway me, and lead me toward you.
Oh Infinite Love, let this be my life,
that I thank you and thank you and thank you.

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

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Thanksgiving weather report

Extreme gratitude.
Outward conditions will vary throughout the day
as an intense high pressure zone moves through,
bringing with it a dense, cold air
of deadlines, household preparations,
long lines and frozen traffic;
news of unpleasantness will cloud the horizon.
However—
an inner receptiveness will meet every moment
with awareness of an unseen Presence
and awe and gratitude for the gift of life
mixed with marvel at all existence, including its pain,
producing a flood of wonder, patience,
forgiveness and generosity
unaffected by external conditions.
So in the end it will be a glorious day.

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

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Half moon

      
         
                  
We can only gaze at you,
your light and your darkness,
your visible and your hidden,

and trust what we never see,
how solid, how old, how there,
passing through veils,

not arguing about your absence,
waxing above our ignorance,
tugging at us, our blood and its flows,

what in us wonders and what is resolute,
the long story and your longing,
face made lovely with scars,

and try to imagine what you have seen,
what miracles and terrors, what night
secrets, what things in daylight

when we thought you weren’t looking,
like God, how when we’re not enraptured
we ignore you,

looking down at us with all our sorrow,
all our sleepless nightmares,
looking always with such tender beauty.

         
         

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

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I soften my heart

         
         
God of Love,
in a world great with darkness
I drink your light.

In a world of violence
I soften my heart.

In a world of fear
I deepen my breath.

In a word of grief
I enlarge my embrace.

In a world of shouting
I open my roots.

In a world of fragments
I let myself belong.

In a world of walls
I go out into the streets:

I bear you to those
who are mad with hunger for you.

In a world of fissures
I return to you,
always to you.

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

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The Second Coming

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
Renounce the hope
that in the Second Coming
Christ will act more like Caesar
than Jesus of Nazareth.
God meant it the first time,
and it will be no different.
The cross is not God’s B game.
God comes among us
not conquering but asking for love.

Christ lures us away from supremacy.
Christ is an outcast,
whomever we reject or despise
(“so marred was his appearance”)
to heal us of our resistance to love.
Christ is homeless, a refugee, a migrant.
Christ is black, queer, alien.

The only barrier between us and heaven
is the limit of our love.
God comes as the Other
and asks us to love
and the Kingdom comes no sooner
than we see her and love her.
The Second Coming
has come a million times
and we keep missing it.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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So you are a king?

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?”
         Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king.
         For this I was born, and for this I came into the world,
         to testify to the truth.
         Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

                  —John 18.37

No, you are not a king.
You claim no authority, or power.
You will not come now or in end times
to conquer, to coerce, even to insist.
You neither receive nor offer
the smugness of supremacy.
You are not a king in a beggar’s disguise,
but a beggar,
not clinging to heaven, but utterly empty,
choosing the life of a slave
in suffering, weakness and rejection
sure to confuse our earthly delusion.

No, you are not a king—
but what word do we have
for love that can’t be defeated,
love that triumphs even in tattered lives,
that turns back even our worst sin?
What word do I have for the One
who stands over all that I fear,
whose love orders my life
like the laws of physics,
whose gravity holds me so?
What word do I have
for one who so owns me
and sets me free,
for a love that gives me
my life, true and radiant,
rising from my own ruins,
and— I am powerless over it—
makes me want to follow,
to obey with all of my being?

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

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Feeling sad for the world

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
Every now and then
we leave off our pious yearnings,
and even our righteous ire,
and sit down to the hard work 
of being sad for the world.

It takes guts, God knows—
not anger but sorrow;
it tires prophets and psalmists alike.
The wolf that cries in the long valley,
the sea that chants its lament
over and over with sighs and tears,
the hermit on sore knees,
the angels at their posts
taking turns offering up their
aching hearts,
even Christ weeping,
they can’t do it alone.

In the end it is
the broken hearted
in whom we find
the deepest companionship.
We come away wet with grief
yet oddly strengthened
with the fibers of hope.
In grief for the world we touch its worth.
In sorrow we find each other,
and there, the substance of joy.

Weird, isn’t it, how that alone
is the healing balm we ask?

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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Keep singing

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Deep in the dark, tangled bone
is an original wound unhealed,
terror at a missing god,
despair bent to rage and loathing.
For eons we’ve borne the shadow,
generation to generation.
No one invents or refines it,
but merely passes it on,
stick in hand.

But even deeper is a root of light,
and within that, open space,
and within that a song,
and someone singing.
No wound can erase the space,
no darkness still the song,
no rage frighten the one singing.

There is no difference that matters
but loyalty to the wound or to the song.
There is no religion but the healing.
It is never impossible to choose
as the Gentle One did
the afternoon the light failed.
Be balm. Let the wound go,
breathe deeply
and sing that undying song.

.
.
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

Published
Categorized as Reflections