The cross

         Unless you carry your cross and follow me          you can’t be my disciple.                   —Luke 14.27

What if I went through this day as if I were not wearing a cross but bearing one? What if I went through the day with my hands in the air?

What comfort do I cherish more than you, God? What security do I need to renounce? What privilege do I need to confront? What do you call me to surrender for the sake of love and justice? Not Jesus’ cross, but mine? what is it like?

I ready myself today to enter people’s suffering, to stand with the poor and outcast, to hurt with the hurting and risk with the vulnerable, to share in powerlessness and find power there. To trust you alone. You alone.

Set my hands on my cross, my shoulder under its weight. Let it lift me, the cross alone lift me.

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

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The turning

Dearly Beloved, Grace and Peace to you.                    Whoever comes to me          and does not hate father and mother,                   wife and children, brothers and sisters,                   yes, and even life itself,          cannot be my disciple                   —Luke 14.26

From the tug and tangle of family, the arms and laps, the hugs and slaps, the blessed hooks and havens, you must go. The comedies and tragedies of mistaken identity, the cages and pedestals you must quit. Your first love, your deepest loyalty, your honor’s fountain you must abandon. Leave them, your family since you were born, for another you’ve had even longer.

To serve God and horrify your mother, to obey your calling and not your father, to turn from your beloved to the Beloved, to claim the earth as your children, to cut that umbilical knot, this is how you are born. Until you can betray their will for God’s you have none of your own.

Beyond the temple, the cradle, the table, the monument on the battlefield that says who you are, you must go. Go to the top of the hill where the path splits, and choose a harsher grief, a deeper belonging, a wider freedom. Only turning on the hill, walking down the far side unseen can you come to yourself, come to God, come to those you love in 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

Apology, no apology

Dearly Beloved, Grace and Peace to you.          

For being hurtful or thoughtless, you should apologize. For having your opinions or feelings, you should not apologize.

When your fear or racism or selfishness fly unchecked, apologize. When you hurt someone— even unintentionally— apologize. When you do your best and you fail, when you are honest and others are uncomfortable, when you disagree and people are upset, do not apologize.

Apologize for being hurtful. Don’t apologize for being who you are.

Deep Blessings, Pastor Steve

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

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Above the ground

                                    Above the ground after a brief silence they resume their war before they are even out of the graveyard, climbing over each other trying to save their own lives, clawing at some unseen soil above them,

while beneath he rests in peace, where, after all, we each long to be, borne to our resting ground, cherished and at peace, soon and very soon.

Could I slip beneath the grass of my battlefields and travel there? Can I find a way to live without that combat, rest without that death, to grant to the wicked the eternal peace of the living?

God, bury me beneath the feet of my anxieties. Let them go on without me, arguing. Let me be a ghost of grace, untroubled, unbound, interred in love.

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

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Rose

          Holy One, Divine Lover, I am your image. Your glory, your love, your life, your grace is folded up in me a thousand times and this, my life, is your unfolding like a rose. Each day your beauty emerges, each moment your light unfolds in me. I honor this mystery. I trust it. I give thanks, that even in ugly places you unfold your beauty in me, each breath one of the infinite petals of God.

In the rose garden of God I marvel at the variety. I walk with gentle wonder. I give thanks that in each of us you give yourself to all of us.

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

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No deposit, no return

                   When you give a banquet, invite the poor,                   the disabled, the afflicted, and the blind.          You will be blessed,                   because they cannot repay you.                            —Luke 14.13-14

God, I give you myself, without expecting return. It is not about me. Let my gifts and generosity, my love and service disappear into the world. I let go of them without demand of how they are spent. I give my humility and forgiveness without expectation of how they are received. I give my faith, I give my love without regard to what it gets me. I love your Beloved, even the needy or troubling, for their sake, not mine. There is no exchange. I give my life and come home empty handed, home to you.

__________________ 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

Meet the given day

Dearly Beloved, Grace and Peace to you.                     I paddled a small boat through wind and waves in the open sea, the wind wanting to wipe me sideways, waves lurching me about, the constant pressing, the effort, the all aloneness of it, a little dot in an ocean wide of green, the struggle so welcome, so satisfying,

because I was there.

I have climbed mountains and hiked deserts, raised children and journeyed through a marriage simply to be there.

You have swung the hammer, sewed the seams, taken the bus, changed the diapers, recovered from the illness, done the time. You run races, you wash dishes, you row your body through its failings, you work the work of youth or of aging, you put your shoulder to it. Even in prayer’s stillness you go the distance.

This is the holy pilgrimage: to meet the given day. You give yourself to this moment as it is, hand to hand, all in, and beyond all accomplishment you are given the gift of this life. You come home with salt in your hair and a whole wide sea in your heart.       

                    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

Place of honor

Dearly Beloved, Grace and Peace to you.                    When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,          do not sit down at the place of honor,          in case someone more distinguished than you          has been invited by your host.                   —Luke 14.8

Don’t think poorly of yourself; that’s not it. Remember you are God’s Beloved, in whom God is delighted. And in humility remember the same of others. God has no hierarchy, no preferences, only love.

Be aware of the supremacy you internalize, assuming for yourself a higher place because you are white or male or not crazy, in all the ways we favor and judge. Resolve this day to meet everyone knowing they are as honored as you or anyone you honor. In your heart and mind give them the place of honor. For it is only in giving honor that we receive it.

Notice the thousand ways we sort and rank, the ways we assign goodness and privilege, the hierarchies we imagine into being. Defy them. At God’s table royalty and outcast sit side by side and are indistinguishable. Spend your life at that table and become indistinguishable from 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

Don’t come back soon

Dearly Beloved, Grace and Peace to you.           Back from a week in a cabin on the coast of Maine, I’m all slowed down. The thing now is to not jump back up into fifth gear and start hurrying and fretting and multitasking and plowing all night long. Don’t come back from vacation and fill up with stuff. Stay a little vacant. Keep the empty place. Stay slow. Keep paying attention, keep being deeply present.

The thing as I rise from prayer is to stay in prayer. The purpose of prayer, or vacation, or sabbath, or sleep, is not just to come up for air so you can go back into the fray but also to slow yourself down so what you go back into isn’t a fray. Even when things around you are chaotic, you can be at peace. Even when others are panicking and hurrying and demanding, or when they aren’t doing anything at all and it’s all falling to you, even when the house is afire and you have to move quickly, you can stay rooted. You can do one thing at a time. Even when you’re not at your prayers you can still be in prayer.

Go on vacation, or into prayer, or on sabbath, early and often. Go there now. And don’t come back soon.          

                    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

Pieces

When we die maybe we all come rushing together with joy with pieces of each other that we’ve had all along, exchanging treasures, so happy to see each other, to find ourselves again.

So, why do we wait?

__________________ 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