The abolition of deserving

            “Cut this tree down! Why should it be wasting the soil?”
           “Let it alone until I dig around it and put manure on it.”
                           —from Luke 13.7, 8

Why do bad things happen to good people?
Because things happen.
God is not an algorithm.
Did the eighteen people crushed by the wall
deserve their death? No.
Does the struggling tree deserve to be cut down? No.
Jesus dispenses with the idea—
the demonic lie—of deserving.
There is no such thing.
God is not bound to the past
and our performance in it;
God is in the present moment.
God is not a cashier,
dispensing what we’ve earned.
God is life, and the giving of life, and nothing else.
No compromise. No conditions.
There is no “deserving.”
It is the lie of Satan, luring you into the past,
into fear, into bondage. It does not give life.
God’s will is not what you deserve,
but what you need.
Regardless of the accidents that befall you,
regardless of evil you do or the evil you suffer,
God’s will is to offer what you need to live fruitfully,
which is always mercy.
A tree that is not fruitful needs nourishing.
A person who is not righteous needs healing.
A son who has distanced himself needs family.
People who crucify need forgiveness.
A Beloved who has died needs resurrecting.
Dare to abandon your calculations
and its illusion of control.
From Life there is only the giving of life.
Receive, and you will have fruits to give.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Thirsting, satisfied

           My God, my soul thirsts for you,
                      as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
           My soul is satisfied
                      as with a rich feast,
                                                                 —Psalm 63.1, 5

Yes, Beloved, both.
My soul is parched
and my emptiness gnaws at me.
I am filled, with more than I can take in.
My hunger for you drives me
to fruitful places and barren,
and I find you and fail to find you.
My thirst distorts my thinking,
clouds my eyes,
I am never without you.
My hunger never leaves me,
only hides in so many places,
at any moment I can stop
and be at peace,
for you are already here,
sumptuous feast set in the hall
of my desolate heart.
A river always being emptied,
always being filled.
I welcome my thirst.
I drink deeply of you.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

God of Yes

            “Cut this tree down! Why should it be wasting the soil?”
           “No, let it alone until I dig around it and put manure on it.”
                           —from Luke 13.7, 8

Be done with the god of demanding,
the god of Not Good Enough.
Be done with the God of No.

Turn to the God of Yes,
the God of Let Me Nourish,
the God of I Believe In You.

The God of mercy, God who gives,
God of what takes time,
God of hidden gifts unfolding.

Let the God of Yes dig around your roots.
Feel the patient fingers.
Feel the disturbance.

(Of course that one is also
the God of Manure
for which there is another word.)

Let the God of Manure
turn waste and refuse into food,
death into life.

Let the God of Yes bear fruit in you,
the fruit of Yes for others,
for nourishing, not judging.

This very day you may have the chance
to lay down your axe
and take up a trowel.

Be a gardener of Yes,
and your own roots
may be nourished.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Let your heart break

                When you hear of wars and rumors of wars,
                do not be alarmed….
               The gospel must first be preached to all nations.

                                                  —Mark 13.7,10

Let your heart break for this world.
Do not be afraid to stay there at the wound of the world,
weeping with those who weep.
There is infinite strength and blessing there.
But bear your sorrow gently;
it is held by the One who weeps for us.
Into hearts broken open the light of love shines
Look clearly on the world’s injustice,
but look with eyes of mercy.
Take courage. Do not despair at the oppressors,
who are captive to the spirit of pride and violence.
Bear your outrage lightly; do not cling to it.
Let it lead you toward compassion, not anger.
Let every breath be an offering.
We have been sent to make gentle this wounded world,
to dwell as healers among fearful souls,
to shine light in this darkness.
Don’t despair that you are unable.
It is not you who does this work: it is God in you.
When you touch the world’s pain God enters you.
Let your tears be healing rains that bring life.
You breathe gentleness into the air that all others breathe,
in the earth we all share you sow peace.

The light shines in the darkness
and the darkness cannot overcome it.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

We will go on

We are surrounded by death,
and we are well, and we will be well.
We breathe in and breathe out.
We know we are dying,
and we dance on our graves.
We know how to love, how to forgive.
We know how to live for the well-being
of all life and nothing less—
and nothing less can sway us.
We have the courage that cannot fail:
in the face of evil, to choose kindness.
We are borne on untiring wings
older, and newer, than us.
We are carried by a current deeper
than gravity, stronger than time.
Our hope is not in the future
but a river already flowing.
We have already died and gone to heaven,
angels who can’t be prevented from blessing.
We are seeds of the One
who has already died and risen.
We will sing of justice and mercy
until the end days, for even at the end,
life throbs and thrills and burgeons with grace.
We will go on. We will be well.
We will die singing.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Gather me

         Jerusalem, Jerusalem! How often have I desired
         to gather your children together
         as a hen gathers her brood under her wings,
         and you were not willing!
                           —Luke 13.34

Gather me, Mother Christ.
Gather me in from my fears and doubts.
Hold me under your tireless wing,
shield me from hungers that wander,
guard me from flighty desires.
Save me from the evil I would suffer
and the evil I would do.
Gather me with all your children,
those I love and those I do not,
for we shelter together but alone, wander.
Mother Christ, keep me by your covering side,
tender me at your nursing breast,
close by you wherever you go,
so that even up Golgotha’s hill,
bearing the cross with you
I am under your wing,
under your wing.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Stand firm

           “Herod wants to kill you.”
           “Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures.”
                                 —Luke 13.31

           Stand firm in the Beloved.
                                 —Philippians 4.1

           The Holy One is my light and my salvation;
                 whom shall I fear?
           Though an army encamp against me,
                 my heart shall not fear.
                                 —Psalm 27. 1, 3

You belong to the Beloved.
You are a member of the Body of Love.
Your Source is infinite; your power is divine.
Your treasure is in an earthen jar —dust,
that will return to dust.
But in this moment, in this jar, you bear light,
light that cannot be hurt or diminished.
You are not the jar. You are the light in the jar.
Bear your light; bless the shadows with it.
Stand firm. Don’t let your light be dimmed
by other people’s fears.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness cannot overcome it.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Child, the best way you can repent today
is to stop avoiding God’s love.
Stop ignoring the Beloved calling your name.
Stop declining the deep blessings meant for you,
the mysterious love that flows beneath gravity itself
the kindness the Spirit has for you
even when the world is mean.
Stop pretending it’s not for you,
that you yourself are not a cell in the Body of Love.
Let the earth hold you, as it will forever.
Let the sun and rain fall on you
like a lover falling on their beloved.
Repent of ignoring yourself, belittling yourself,
acting as if you’re not worth it.
Forgive yourself. Soften your heart, and forgive.
Indulge yourself in sacred time
simply to marvel at the gift, the miracle that is you.
Repent of how hard you are on yourself,
your judgment, your despair. Have mercy. Have faith.
Your sin is denying your belovedness.
You are Beloved. Your penance is to live like it,
as God would have you do.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Mother hen

           Some Pharisees said to him, “Herod wants to kill you.”
           He said to them, “Go and tell that fox,
           ‘Today and tomorrow I am performing cures.’
           Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often have I desired
           to gather your children together
           as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…”
                           —from Luke 13.31-34

Holy One, my Beloved, my Savior, my Chief,
you choose to be a hen in the realm of the fox.
You choose kindness in the face of evil.

Give me faith to do the same,
to heal instead of hurting,
to choose kindness even when threatened.

Give me courage to be a mother hen
in a world of foxes,
for always I am under your wings.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


            The devil said, “To you I will give the glory
           of all the empires of the world
           and all this authority if you will worship me.”
           —Luke 4.6-7

Evil men (yes, it seems it is men)
seek empire and its power and authority.
Twisted souls seek glory.

Such empire only ends in flame and ashes,
in hearts or buildings crushed, or both,
in weeping in the streets.

Beloved, do not seek power or authority or glory.
You already have them.
The realm is within you,

the realm of unearned kindness and mercy,
the empire of grace and healing,
the commonwealth of cherished belonging.

Even in the shadow of tyrants,
awaken to the realm where you abide,
the realm of shared bread and open hands,

of steadfast friends, and mothers who tend their children,
of voices raised in songs in a thousand tongues.
For love outshines every ruler and undoes every empire.

Don’t leave, in lust for a dream,
the world where you already belong,
and shine, and reign as royalty.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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