A prayer for Labor Day

We pray for those who labor,
especially those who labor so we may take a Labor Day vacation.
Grant your grace to those whose labor costs them,
whose labors degrade or wound or endanger them,
body and soul.
Bless those who pick our fruit and pack our meat,
who clean our rooms, tend our gardens,
gather our waste and care for our aged,
underpaid and unprotected.
Be with those who risk
to advocate and organize and unionize
those who labor for our sake.
Sustain those who labor unhappily,
and those whose labors
would be better spent with their children.
We pray especially for those who labor
under threat or force,
who are not paid, and are not free.
May all who labor be granted Sabbath,
and know their worth apart from labor.
In gratitude for your labors, O God,
we give thanks for those who join you
in creating the world,
that all our labors may create and not destroy,
bless and not abuse, and yield beauty and joy,
for the sake of the wholeness of all Creation.

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

August 30, 2019

On a gray afternoon

On a grey afternoon
(it was not suppose to rain)
after errands to the hardware store
and messing with a database
(is this how I mend the world?)
tired and mindless, at the pace of ennui,
I walk out of the basement office
into the dreary parking lot
and there flits onto a dead branch
a goldfinch—a stray bit of sun,
yellow alarm, tiny shout of glory—
and, having made its point, flies off.

All the way home I breathe,
         How can I not be grateful?
         How can I not be awake?

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

August 29, 2019

Simple

The sin was simple,
but its path was complicated,
like a long involved story,
maybe even a hilarious tale
by the campfire,
a story involving voices and characters,
lots of terrific playacting
that got me up and prancing around—

till I accidentally stepped in the fire.

But without complication or lead-up
your forgiveness is even more simple

and healing.

_________________
Weather Report

Fair,
the sun of grace shining
even through dark clouds,
light giving growth
even during storms.

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

August 28, 2019

Hospitable

         When you give a banquet,
         invite those who cannot repay you…

                  —Luke 14.13

Make of your life a welcome home.
Make your heart a buffet of goodness.

Make yourself a front porch, wide,
two chairs, only one step up.

Think of yourself as a free sample,
a rocking chair, a bench by a lake.

People need a place to belong, to matter,
to receive without question.

Round up all your furniture of love and respect,
all your heirlooms of special treatment,

and put them out on the curb.
Go ahead and make a sign that says FREE.

It’s not about airing your laundry, “being yourself.”
It’s about letting them do that.

After all, you live in God’s house,
who has given you the run of the place.

         
         Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
         for by doing that some have entertained angels
         without knowing it.

                  —Hebrews 13.2

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

August 27, 2019

Singing

Of course the laughing brook is singing.
So are the stones, even the big ones, singing.

The ice in Antarctica, the ice slipping off Greenland,
the river entering the ocean is singing.

Mountains are singing, and not the great deep
sonorous dirges you expect, but little ditties.

Air has a song. Excuse the obvious, but it’s a lovely little air.
The rock beneath the soil has a tune it can’t get out of its head.

The bottom of the sea and the stars
are joined in intricate six-part harmony.

The man in the moon—look and you’ll see—
is a happy man singing a sad song.

Cities sing. Houses sing. Airplanes don’t sing but
the people in them sing, long songs streaking across the sky.

Everything is singing, singing. Liturgies and chants,
oldie goldies, sea chanteys, incantations,

wedding songs and elegies, rope-skipping tunes, hymns,
fight songs, and loves songs… oh, the love songs.

Your guts are singing all the time, singing.
Your bones are a song. Your skin. Your eyes.

I don’t know what this means, but God
is singing a little song in you right now. Always.

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

August 26, 2019

Bind yourself to this

After the gash the reaching, the weaving,
tendrils of flesh finding each other.

After the flash, the flames, grey ash—
the greening, small prelude to the immense.

Children, wounded, homing, stand
at thresholds and step through.

Root hairs stitch with patience, grasses
fur volcanoes’ ribs, mosses home bare rock,

arctic birds find place in ice, species drift
and shift and shape. There will be life.

The very word that there be light
ripens the dark. Being seeks its fullness.

Battered souls still mend and seek to mend,
and even caved do it to save and to defend.

Whatever is broken, bent or incomplete,
an inner knowing whispers make it whole.

Even in the year your mouth
is full of ashes, bones of smoke,

something new will rise, already is.
Bind yourself to this, through flood and flame,

in you and every soul, this mending will, the heart
of what it is to be, moving, given, graced.

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

August 23, 2019

Eyes unbent

Today you will see someone bent.
You will be tempted to wonder
how they brought it on themselves.

You will hear an offer
of healing, a brave and generous hope
denied, belittled, deferred.

You will see a hand outgiven,
a meeting yielding to frailty,
touching what can’t be touched.

You will witness a tightening,
old fears and excuses,
a caging, an act of depressing,

and yet a remolding
to unbow you, stand you straight,
a loosening, a raising, if you dare.

Today you will notice someone bent
and see with awe, not pity
a daughter of Abraham,

and with eyes unbent
be set free and given power to heal
if you choose so to see.

         “And ought not this woman,
         a daughter of Abraham
         whom Satan bound for eighteen long years,
         be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”
                  — Luke 13.16

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

August 22, 2019

Tourists

Tourists we are, most of us,
even the locals,
who walk out to the sea
and maybe dip in up to our ankles,
let the mystery finger our little bones,
or maybe we dive deep
and let the unseen breathe us in,
or sail far, under the sound only
of wind and unknowing.
Still, what do we know
of this vastness that birthed us?
How can we begin to say a word
of the great undersea mountains
and rivers, the creatures there
larger and darker than our dreams,
how can we pretend, but only
bring home a shell, a little sand dollar,
hollow and curious,
barely whispering of the real life
whose actual skeleton it was,
little grey thing on the dresser?
Every prayer, every conversation
is a postcard from the real place,
a memory of the time
we dipped our feet
in the immense, murmuring water,
            the silence wave after wave
                         reaching out for us.

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

August 21, 2019

Bent over woman

She comes, as always, eyes on the ground,
feet her frame, dust her distance.
The cause, surely, within her,
out of sight as sky.

He sees what is bent, what is caged,
sees what is tall and straight and strong in her.
Sees what is free in her,
what is noble and beautiful.
Abraham and Sarah.
Lays his hand on the lock,
sets it open.

Now: to see faces.
Heaven is eye to eye.
Horizon given. Distance possible.
To bear a load, to watch a bird,
to see more than one thing at a time.
What she stands for.
Once bent, now sent, she sings.

This is not a faith that wishes,
but that frees.

         And ought not this woman,
         a daughter of Abraham
         whom Satan bound for eighteen long years,
         be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”
                  — Luke 13.16

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

August 20, 2019

Notknowing

A flock of birds, my questions rise,
a twisted path in a tangled jungle,
whispering may and might and not answers,
every tree a priest of my unknowing.

In the temple, fog.

Easy to resent this religion of obscurity,
the keen temptation of wisdom,
deification of the dumb.

But however vast the mountain view
it is partial, small in the universe.

This I know:
what I know is nothing, imagined.
When I know
I presume, and forget you.

Rather this cloud of honest mystery
shrouding me
standing
on this very real
mountain,

rather the longing,
given,
yours as much as mine,

this hand I hold
in the dark.

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

August 19, 2019