Seventy years an earthling

Seventy times around the sun,
seventy times to see anew.

I am nearer now to the future
than I’ve ever been.

My past is more present than it used to be.
But more than ever, I am in the present.

Though I have let go of more than ever,
now there is more of me than ever.

Memories move inward. I care less and less
whether my house burns down.

Daily I acquire clarity of the precipice
I’ve been standing on all my life.

How much of the earth has become me,
and of me has become earth?

Bad knees are a small price to pay
for this journey.

Of all I have brought with me I treasure most
my gratitude.

All of it—the grave, the world, this life,
this day—is an opening, opening.

Every day can be
a birth day.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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           Proclaim the good news,
           “The kingdom of heaven has come near.”
           Cure the sick, raise the dead,
           cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.

                           —Matthew 10.7-8

You are given power and authority and sent,
not to proselytize, not to enact “Christian” legislation,
but to heal.
In your workplace, in your community,
in your family.
How can you possibly do this?
Because you are given power and authority.
You are given love, which casts out fear—
slowly, to be sure, but it does cast out fear.
You won’t cast out all the demons of greed or racism,
or cure the whole epidemic of loneliness or despair.
But you will love, even one person at a time,
and maybe your witness will move crowds.
But remember you are an empty vessel;
it is not your power but God’s.
And though your vessel is small,
that power is infinite.
Go, then, and peace be with you.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Dawn enters
not shy,
just discreet,
then swelling,
light rising,
even on a cloudy morning
bearing an alreadiness
I covet.

She bends to me,


this rising is in you.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Go and learn

           “Go and learn what this means,
           ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’”

                           —Matthew 9.13 (quoting Hosea 6.6)

There are two religions in the world:
the religion of being right
and the religion of being loving.

They are incompatible.
Get it right and you may hurt someone.
Love, and you may break a rule.

We are always practicing one
or the other every moment,
always choosing.

This is Jesus’ faith in a nutshell:
not religious orthodoxy but loving behavior.
Not being right but being loving.

I know this, and believe it deeply.
Yet Jesus’ words stick:
“Go and learn.”

I’m not there yet.
I’m still right, and proud of it.
Still learning, still learning.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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           He saw a man named Matthew
           sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him,
           “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

                           —Matthew 9.9

Yes, you,
unsuspecting, unprepared, unqualified,
you are called.
The call is not about your powers or skills.
The call is to be the one you are created to be,
with all the gifts of the Spirit  you’ll need to do that.
The call is to follow Jesus
in whatever unexpected way he turns up in your life,
to bring your weakness and your not knowing into his friendship,
to hand over your gifts without knowing how he may use them.
The call is to walk with him,
to hold the space while he does his miracles.
He needs you.  Just keep him company.
Stay close enough to his light that you yourself are radiant. 

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Your part

In the woods, listen
beneath highway sounds
and planes overhead
to the gentle murmuring of the brook.
Sometimes it takes a while,
like letting your eyes get used to the dark,
to hear what else is there,
to the song of the brook
and the silence beneath the song.

Out of the woods it’s harder,
the noise more complicated, insistent, wordy.
But the song that created the world, and you,
still hums, threading through every moment.

It’s where your life makes harmony
with the universe. It’s your part.

Your greatest quest is not to go and find,
but to stop and listen.

Beneath everything
there is music
you were born to sing.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Growing old

Growing old tutors us in what Jesus taught.
To let go, to let go.
To surrender things, control,
the power to make things as you wish.
To rely, and be grateful.
To know the blessing hidden in being
poor in spirit, with diminished powers,
trusting a greater power, unseen;
to be meek, unlikely to outgun the strong,
and know what you have;
to know mourning, and the comfort that outlives grief;
to hunger for a world
yet to come into its righteousness—
hunger that is strength.
And the blessing that endures. It endures.

To let pain be a teacher and weakness a coach
and failure a school that never lets out.
To leave your works for your heart.
To forgive yourself and others as one.
To renounce what anybody thinks of you.
To be able to see the long story of love,
how it has shadowed you.
To have found a center reliant on nothing
but the everlasting.
To know that your legacy shall be unknown;
that loveliness is not in your face but behind it;
that beyond the Mystery
all is gathered in capable arms;
that all is grace.
To know that when you have lost everything,
when there is nothing left of you

you are still you,
strong and beautiful, worthy and beloved.
And how to see that when others don’t.
To let go, and to let go.

And to trust that if you have loved
you have lived.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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You probably won’t hear a healer by the lakeshore,
with the backup choir of seagulls singing,
gentle waves patting the boats you’re about to leave.
You probably won’t hear.
You’ll suspect.

More like falling in love,
only scarier and more freeing, an inward leaning out
toward something that feels more like coming home.
Despite the nets you leave behind,
a feeling it’s something you’re being given,
even as you yourself are given.
Like the tropical island the bird migrates to,
and the way to the island, only it’s not a place.
A way of being, a direction your life will flow.
A freedom you’re being led toward, step by step,
accompanied all the way, because
it’s not a call to a thing but a person, a friendship.
You go with someone who’s made the journey.
There will be missteps, falterings, wrong turns. All blessed.

There’s no voice, but a certain fullness in the silence.
You hear, and you go. Moment by moment, you go.
Something in you trusts:
the river knows the way.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Holy Trinity – Part III

See how they love each other.
How they include each other.
How they empty themselves into each other.

How they move together, dancing
(perichoresis, they call it, dancing around),
how they make space for each other.

They are not just a being, but being,
not merely existing but flowing,
like electricity—only love, all love.

See their delight in each other,
how none is whole without the others,
each surrendering to each other.

They are infinite, yet intimately present,
eternal, yet coming into being in this moment,
coming into being in you, as you let them.

Yes you, my lovely, are not merely a being
but a being-in-holy-being.
They want you.

They include you.
They are not complete without you.
You are the fourth member of the Holy Trinity.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Holy Trinity – Part II

How easy it is to worship our image of God
instead of God.

The Trinity is not a doctrine, it’s a koan.
It’s a way of slippery=izing our images of God:
God is This, the Opposite of this, and None of the above.
God is More Than One Thing. And The One Thing.
God is beyond our knowing or pinning down;
yet known, revealed, embodied.

The Intimate Beyond, the Infinite Companion,
and the Immediate Arising.

God is mostly mystery, and all love.
Your understanding is fog.
Your certainty is noise.
Your belief is irrelevant.
All there is is love.

Let the Loving Mystery confuse you,
the Unknowable know you,
the Unspeakable do the speaking.

the Lover, the Beloved and the Love Flowing,
holds you.
Let it be so.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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