Fat Tuesday

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and peace to you.

The butter and eggs, they are good.
The glad songs of praise,
with both “Alleluias” and a bit of honey on our lips,
these are good.
There will come a time for fasting—but, wait.
First, let us praise butter,
how it enriches and enlightens our food,
how it causes us joy and gratitude.
Let us give thanks for the riches of life
and indulge in them honestly
before we turn from them
so that we might remember
that the fault is not theirs,
but only in our craving.
I shall eat pancakes today with deep mindfulness
so that I may say goodbye to them properly,
so that in the next forty days
I might learn attentiveness without them
and afterward return to such riches of life
not with selfish craving
but with reverence.
Let delight be the beginning and end
of my devotion.

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

Coming

Lovers
embrace at a train station.

All Creation exults
at your coming,

even in winter
blossoms are not ashamed to open.

Every day I rise up laughing,
every moment it’s always like this,

every step an unwrapping,
every breath an arrival.

Even before the train has stopped
you have leaped,

you run toward us,
arms open.

 

 

Ordinary light

Coming down from the holy mountain
we know we have not escaped the world’s darkness,
we’ve found how light is hidden here.

It was no different from the rest of our lives;
we just took the time to remove our sunglasses
and see for a change.

Even ordinary light is miraculous and holy.
Christ lives and shines with infinite love and divine glory
in our passing days of laundry
and crabby co-workers and scrubbing the kitchen table.

Give thanks for momentary glimpses
of the fullness of God’s glory,
but don’t stare at the sun.
Know it’s here,
and look for the light where you are.

A little girl waits for the bus,
singing a nonsense song to herself,
and stops, silent, staring at trees.
I swear, she casts shadows.

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Transfiguration meditation

Jesus said, “if you want to become my followers
deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.
         Give us grace, God, to follow in the way of the cross

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John
and led them up a high mountain, by themselves.
         We come to you not by our own design, O Christ,
         but by your loving invitation.

And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun,
and his clothes became dazzling white.
         You are our dawn and our light, O Christ.
         Fill us with the light of your love.

Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.
         Fulfill your Word in us, not by mere obedience or prophecy,
         not in mere knowledge or lawfulness, but in love.

Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here;
if you wish, I will make three dwellings here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
         Save us, O God, from our temptation
         to capture and control our lives, your gifts, and even you.
         Give us grace to be alive in the present moment.

While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them.
         O Loving Mystery, overcome our knowledge with wonder,
         that in a cloud of unknowing we may love you.

And from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved;
with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”
         When you call us to follow in the way of the cross, help us listen.
         In every moment of our lives, help us listen.

When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground
and were overcome by fear.
         We confess our fear of the unknown, fear of the light in us,
         fear of your grace and your presence that overwhelms us.

But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Get up and do not be afraid.”
         Help us always to know your touch, to hear your voice:
         “You are my Beloved. Do not be afraid.
         You are my Beloved. Do not be afraid.”

When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.
         Our visions are not of another world, but this one.
         Open our eyes to see you in our daily lives.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them,
“Tell no one about the vision
until after the Human One has been raised from the dead.”
         Help us proclaim our faith, not in triumphal self-confidence
         but in humbly following in the way of the cross,
         trusting in resurrection. Alleluia.

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This is the way

         Jesus began to show his disciples
         that he must undergo great suffering and be killed.
         Peter said, “God forbid it, Lord!”
         But Jesus said, “If you want to become my followers,
         deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me.”
         Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter          

         and James and his brother John
         and led them up a high mountain, by themselves.
         And he was transfigured before them,
         and his face shone like the sun.
         And a voice said, “This is my Son; listen to him!”
         Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision
         until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

                           —from Matthew 16.21-17.9

The transfiguration is not just about Jesus shining with glory. It’s God’s affirmation of the way of the cross: the way of forgiveness and love even of our enemies, the way of solidarity with those who suffer, the way of deep self-giving, the way of vulnerability for the sake of justice. On the mountain Jesus shines with the light of resurrection. The way of the cross, that dark path, is full of light.

If Jesus is only shining with glory we won’t have gotten the story right. Not until we have seen the suffering and the resurrection can we speak truthfully about it.

Above the way of suffering there is a brightly lit sign saying “Entrance.” God help us to see, and to follow.

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Evergreen

In the snowy woods
the branches are all bare, resting.
But here is this little shrub,
green leaves peering out from the snow,
taking in every bit of sunlight it can.

God, I want a little evergreen in my heart,
always open to you,
always taking in your light,
even when I am not thinking of it,
always taking you into me.

Your light pours in
and I become light.
Bless my little evergreen.

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Under snow

Under the snow there is a path.
I know where it is.
The rest I don’t know.
The trees are bundled
in their many-sleeved white fur coats,
meditating.
Mice do their shopping in tunnels unseen.
Here some tracks appear—
a squirrel—and there disappear.
The sound of a woodpecker echoes,
but I can’t find it.
The brook moves under its disguise of sleep.
The earth is turning,
the season, dressed in white,
making her slow walk down the aisle.
Sitting in prayer, most of what goes on
is not what I can see.
But it is a beautiful thing
to stand in the woods
and let the sun move
and listen to the wind.

 

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Purify my heart

            You have heard that it was said,
                  “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
          But I say to you, if anyone strikes you on the right cheek,
                  turn the other also.
         You have heard that it was said,
                  “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”
         But I say to you, love your enemies
                  and pray for those who persecute you.
         Be perfectly loving
,                   as your heavenly Abba is perfectly loving.

                           —from Matthew 5.38-48

God, fill me with light,
that I may resist evil not with anger but with light.
Keep me mindful that I am your salt,
not needing to prove my saltiness,
but only to be myself, even in the face of evil.
Give me light even to love my enemy,
salt to turn the other cheek.
Help me resist evil and injustice
as one who is poor in spirit, gentle,
mourning, and hungering for justice.
Help me show mercy as you show mercy.
Purify my heart of all but love,
that I may be purely loving as you.
Give me strength and perseverance
to be a peacemaker despite persecution.
When an evildoer strikes me give me grace
with meekness and purity of heart
to turn the other cheek,
and so with love to stand in their way.
For nothing but the cross will undo evil.
Help me to bear it, for the sake of the world.
Amen. 

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Beggar child

          Look at the birds of the air;
         they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns,
         and yet your heavenly Abba feeds them.

                  —Matthew 6.26

You have driven all  the way to the Grand Canyon.
Why won’t you get out of the car and look?

Why do you come to the royal banquet
with that little tin cup of yours?

Don’t be like those who put on beggar’s rags
to cry for a handout and then go home to riches.

Every moment is a tour of the royal palace.
It’s a giveaway. You can have what you want.

The dishes, the paintings, take them all.
Because it’s already yours. This is your home.

The forgiveness, the grace—it’s yours, all of it.
The stars and sunsets belong to to you.

Little child, why would your Mother not let you live here?
Why would your Heavenly Lover withhold anything?

Forget possessing. Ignore getting and keeping.
It’s already all yours.

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Full moon, shoveling snow

Late night, no lights, full moon, shoveling snow.
The white snow poured out over everything
as if poured out of the silver moon,
making everything into one,
a single white mass.
How can the darkness be so bright?
Knee deep in light,
I can’t tell where the snow ends
and the light begins.
Only blue shadows tell me
where the driveway ends
and the yard begins.
I dig down through the light
to the black pavement,
heave moonlight off the driveway.
It sparkles in dark air,
blending with the sparkling stars,
their hot flame bundled in the black sky
like me in my black coat,
warm in the cold night.
Some of the stars stay in the sky;
some fall in the yard,
beauty falling like snow.
Light piles up around me in the dark.
I am the thrower of light,
enlightening the world.

Now let me live this way,
everything made one in light,
wonder piled up around me.
Let me live sowing light,
so you can’t tell
where I end and the light begins,
until that day when I end
and the light begins.

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