Ten below

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
Morning walk
Ten below

Though minus 23
Celsius sounds better

Even brief exposure hurts
My nose, thumbs and knees notice

The frozen brook clicks
Bubbles move under the ice

Vapor rises from the sun-touched ice
warmer than the air

Silence is sharpened
The sun points its narrow finger at me

Beneath my layers is warmth
from that narrow finger

Beneath my layers
I am earth I am sun

Sparrows chatter in a bare tree
Even the bareness is beauty

Even my nose praises
Even the shadows praise

+
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

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Temptations

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         Jesus was led by the Spirit in the wilderness,
         where for forty days he was tempted.

                  —Luke 4.1-2

A place of harshness
and subtraction.
Shadows splinter and deceive.

How sweet, then,
in this unyielding place,
to possess, control,
never to hunger or hurt or fail,
perfect undepence.

He had to admire them first,
not some devil’s trick
but secret loves,
had to see them stark
against the heat’s pavement,
cherish them, so fetching
among stones, places of skulls,
hold them in his hands, so lovely,
pinned by the nails of the sun,

had to feel the clutching,
had to know how alluring the gems,
singular, untouched, untrue,
and want them badly,
to leave them to the dust
for something even better.

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

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Command this stone

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         “If you belong to God,
         command this stone to become a loaf of bread.”

                  —Luke 4.3

And then this boring meeting to become a circus,
this flabby body to become a work of art,
this life to become something else.

You can spend your life (oh, how we do)
inside a bubble of judgments and desires,
and never know even a simple stone.

No, stay here.
Let the stone be a stone,
the traffic be traffic.

Even this broken life,
this troubled soul,
this difficult time.

Otherwise how can a joy be joy,
a wonder a wonder?
Life is this, not something else.

This is the mystery of the fast,
the hungry day that is a hungry day,
free from the dictates of desire.

Nothing needs to be what it isn’t.
There is glory enough in the stone.
And in you, already a child of God.

You can’t command the transformation,
but only present yourself to God,
who can.

Just smile at Satan and say,
“No thanks.
I’m good.”

+
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

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Ashes

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
I have a small vial of clay
that used to hold my father’s ashes.
They’re on a hillside in Montana now;
the vial is clean and empty,
ready for me.

I should keep it in my pocket,
hold it deep in the folds of my coat,
until I am folded into my little vial of clay.

It asks me, what is the difference
between you and clay?
The answer is water.
That, and love.

The little vial of clay says daily:
drink water while you can,
and love.

+
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

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Shriven Tuesday

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
Preparing to descend into Lent,
its sorrows and surrenders,
the death that opens to new life,
we stand at the threshold
on this day named for shriving,
which means hearing confession,
and also imposing penance,
and also granting absolution.
All in one.

Even before Lent begins
we are shriven,
having confessed
and been offered a new way
and been forgiven,
before we even begin.

Eat those pancakes, then,
and parade with joy,
and tomorrow wear those ashes
as lovely adornment.
Walk gladly into the desert.
Embrace your cross with gratitude.
You are already risen.

+
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

Heavy snow

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
Heavy snow fell, changing everything,
every limb and twig.
The woods were wondrous and wounded,
trees bent double, branches down.
Even fence posts were transfigured,
beautiful and stylish in their hats.

Sticky, wet snow is perfect for snowmen
but a pain to shovel,
dense and heavy. The piles
by the driveway are not pretty.
But you keep stopping
to look up and be astonished.

Afterward you look out,
a little damp from the grace and pain,
and wonder:

what will you do
with the beauty you’ve been given?

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

His exodus

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         

         Two men, Moses and Elijah, were talking to him.
         They appeared in glory and were speaking of his exodus,
         which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

                  —Luke 9.30-31

Most translations say “departure” but the Greek word is “exodus.” His death in Jerusalem is not a mere exit, but an exodus, a mass movement in which Jesus will lead us. It is a journey, not a static moment. From the mount of transfiguration stretches the Way of Jesus, a journey of liberation from what oppresses us, a journey from what we know into something unknown, across the sea of chaos into a new Creation, a journey of death and new life.

As he has just told them, it is the way of the cross. This is no metaphor, but his own actual suffering. Jesus prays, contemplating his death, already in Gethsemane, alone in the world. Already he is in arduous prayer while his disciples drift off to sleep. And into that agonized place of prayer comes a support team, two father figures, guardian angels, to encourage him. Moses and Elijah know about journeys, and about self-giving, and people’s resistance; and they come to talk with him about the path he faces. For a moment Jesus is not leading his disciples: he’s just gathering strength, wrapped in the warm, splendid embrace of God, which shines like light.

Of course the disciples don’t get it. What for Peer is a mountaintop experience is a moment of somber poignancy for Jesus. But Peter is clueless. This is not the last time he will find himself sleeping through Jesus’ prayer, or lost in a fog, disoriented at the very moment Jesus reveals his glory, unable to say the right thing or affirm Jesus. But that is just what Jesus is preparing for: to love us even when we are in denial.

Before him?and before us as well?stretches the path to the cross. But for the moment there is simply the comfort of God, a reassuring dawn, a loving voice. Even when he is most alone he is not alone.

And then the moment passes, and the journey begins, down the mountain.

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

Glory

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         

         We are all being transformed
         into the image of God
         from one degree of glory
         to another.

                  —2 Corinthians 3.18

You are changed
into your own glory
which is God’s,

unfolding in radiant splendor,
quiet as a waxing moon
growing day by day.

As a mother sees in her infant
even when no one else sees,
the glory shines in you.

All of us, the child on the bus,
the stranger on the street
growing into the image of God,

the rape victim, the rapist,
from one degree of glory
to another.

What is our evil
but the desperate search,
digging with tooth and claw

for the magnificence
we do not see in ourselves
even though we are glowing?

What is our calling but to shine?
What is love
but seeing?

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

A light, a tent, a cloud, a voice

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         Jesus went up on the mountain to pray.
         And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed….

                  —Luke 9.28-29

A light shone, a revelation,
so glad we were, sleep-lulled, to see it, clear,
yanking us out of our vague dreams…

Moses and Elijah spoke but then began to fade,
like God’s glory already fading beneath Moses’ veil
when he came back down, like dreams fade…

How could I not ask for certainty, for structure
to pen the revelation, suit it to our dullness,
draw the notion from the mystery…

Then the bright erasure, luminously dark,
the palimpsest, the blurring fog of God
preventing definition, shunning outline, only asking…

But from the cloud a voice, a Word, a revelation!—
yet no final word, no tablets, only this:
“Behold my love. Keep listening”….

And then no more. No light, no voice, no visitations,
just him, and what we dare to see, to hear,
revelation and mystery swirled as one, unlimned,

knowing and yearning to, and doing without,
not the carved stone but the word unfolding,
the daily mess and muddle and our listening ear….

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

Leap

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         

         
The poet gives you a little stone to stand on,
a ledge, a moment of the world or your own mind
to notice, to ground yourself in,
and from there to leap

maybe to another stone, a similar noticing,
maybe to another star, the light you are made of,
or a beauty pouring itself into you,
or maybe just leap all the way to God.

When you are praying
the smallest thing
can be what you stand on,
can be your prayer.

Any time, from even a single twig
you can leap
and wherever you land will be God.
The leaping is God.

         

         
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