It is not the world you behold
until it calls out to you
with your own silent name.

It is not God you contemplate
unless that mystery includes you,
though it is nothing like you.

It is not God to whom you pray
unless that One is more
than the one to whom you pray.

It is not God you believe in
unless you know
you don’t know what you mean,

that “person” or even “spirit”
is an inept metaphor, too clear,
too manageable, too imaginable.

The Infinite Mysterious
will accept your unknowing lean
as worship.

The Gracious One
will cherish your wonder,
and speak in unintelligible tongue

your silent name.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Love is wasted

           Some seeds fell on the path…
                           —Matthew 13.4

All love is wasted.

It is not a wise investment.
It is not a powerful tool.

It is given away,
without thought of profit or outcome.

Often it is swallowed up by ingratitude,
or falls into gaping wounds,

or is sown among evil and hatred
where no amount of love can succeed.

Love is wasted gladly on the unknowing,
the ungrateful, the undeserving.

Even your love of someone dear is a waste,
for their love can only be a gift, not a return.

We tread on the seeds
of divine love.

Daily we go out to sow wastefully,
scattering as much love as possible.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Prayer for humility

Gentle God,
give me your spirit,
that I may be a vessel for your grace,
empty of self-serving
and the will to get my way.
Give me your patience to listen,
your humility to set aside
what I or others think of me,
and your love, to be present for others
no matter what.
“Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand.”
If I must believe even when hope is dim,
if I must forgive when I am not forgiven,
or love when I am not loved,
I take up your yoke.
If I am overlooked or even scorned,
I bear your burden.
God of grace, I root my humility in yours,
you who serve me silently.
I pray in the spirit of Christ, who thought me worthy
to give his life for me.
I lay down my life,
and find my rest in you.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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No condemnation

           There is no condemnation
           for those who are in Christ Jesus.
           For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
           has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

                           —Romans 8.1-2

My knees are going bad, but I don’t blame them.
If a part of my body has a hard time
I don’t condemn it; I care especially for it.
I don’t judge it for being susceptible
to age or hardship or injury or disease.
Since we are all members of Christ’s Body—
parts of the living organism of God’s embodied love—
God does not condemn us,
no matter how badly we fail.
God only blesses us.
We may imagine rules and requirements,
formulas and expectations governing
how we may avoid sin and impress God,
but they are “laws” which only alienate us from God.
They isolate us as if we are not part of God.
But God’s love sets us free from that illusion.
God’s law is that since you are part of God
you are blessed, and never condemned,
and the purpose of your life is to live out that blessing.
And if you fail,
you are blessed.
There is no escaping that law.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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A sower went out to sow

           A sower went out to sow….
                           —Matthew 13.3

A person set out to live her life
and she tried to get things right
but some things she got wrong.
Some were good ideas but they went badly.
Sometimes she had good intentions
but they got choked out
by her doubts and fears and bad habits.
Sometimes she did good things
but they didn’t make any difference,
or they went unnoticed.
Sometimes she was misunderstood and ignored
and she wondered if her life mattered at all.
But she kept trying.
And the seeds of her trying bore fruit,
some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Flesh and Spirit

           To set the mind on the flesh is death,
           but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
           You are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit.

                           —Romans 8.6, 9

No, there’s nothing wrong with having a body,
or physical pleasure,
nothing bad about sex or chocolate.
Flesh and spirit are not enemies, or even opposites.
They need each other.

Appearances delude us into thinking
we are our flesh and no more than that:
separate beings defined by our bodies
like lonely asteroids isolated in empty space.
I think I am this thing, this body bag of flesh,
and you are a different thing altogether.
But no, in fact we’re all part of One Thing,
all separate fingers of the same hand,
distinct (in the flesh) but connected (in the Spirit)—
all members of one living organism
Paul calls the Body of Christ.
To be limited to my flesh alone is death,
as it would be for any of my organs.
But to “set the mind on the Spirit” is to stay connected,
to be aware that by the grace of God’s one Spirit
I’m part of The One, the Body of Christ,
the embodied love of God.
Each of the organs of the body (our life in the flesh)
is precious, essential and beautiful,
but only as it is connected with the others
(our life in the Spirit):
interdependent in mutual love and service,
in gratitude and delight.
To float in the loneliness of an imagined outer space
is selfishness and struggle and anxiety and death.
To be in harmony with love, one with The One,
is life and peace.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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My yoke

           “Come to me, all you that are weary
           and are carrying heavy burdens,
           and I will give you rest.
           Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;
           for I am gentle and humble in heart,
           and you will find rest for your souls.
           for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

                           —Matthew 11.28-30

Jesus, this is my cry of faith in you,
not that you are the Son of God,
but that you invite me into your love.

Not that you are great and mighty,
but that you are there,
there for me, in love.

That in my weariness you are present,
not to ask me to believe,
but to help carry the load.

That I may be yoked with you,
side by side, breathing together,
your and my life and burdens shared.

That I may learn from you,
from your humble gentleness,
that that might be my burden, too.

That I may lay down every burden
but to love, and, yoked with you,
to know that labor as delight.

That I am called not to strive heroically,
but to come alongside,
and to find rest for my soul.

Beloved, with you even the greatest suffering
for the sake of love is an easy yoke,
and my burden is light, pure light.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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I’m a mess

           I do not understand my own actions.
           For I do not do what I want,
           but I do the very thing I hate.

                           —Romans 7.15

Sin isn’t easy to pin down,
hard to catch in the act.
Usually too late.

Unknown fears, regrets wounds and hungers
lurch around on the bicycle of my heart.
I’ll lose control. I’ll crash.

I believe delusions. I flee imaginary monsters.
I don’t know what gets into me.
I don’t know how I mess up.

My heart walks with a limp.
Its compass is off, its eyesight is crooked.
I try to do the right thing, the wrong way.

In the battle between good and evil
I’m on the right side
but I keep scoring for the other team

I’m a mess. Is there hope?
Should I blame myself, shame myself,
should I just give up?

No, says the Beloved, come with me.
There is no battle, no score.
There is only my goodness. It swallows you.

I forgive all your faults,
and know why you have them,
and offer not judgment, but healing

I believe in the heart within your heart
which doesn’t perform, but simply is,
and in that pure being we are at peace.

Come to me, you who are burdened by your sin,
and take upon you my yoke of grace,
and find rest for your soul.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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I just returned from a nephew’s wedding
to a woman from Nepal. Amazing.
I now have dozens of new relatives
all over the world. A miracle.
How did I acquire this new family?
By two people’s love for each other.

Your love has power beyond your knowing.
Your faithfulness creates a real thing,
a living organism greater than you can see.
The flowing of your love
enables the flowing of much more love.

You are given; you are received.
You belong. You are related.

Imagine a world
in which we regarded one another, even strangers,
with the love of kin.
As our nine year old grandson said,
“I kind of think we’re all related—
you know, from Adam and Eve…”

Let your love and faithfulness
weave a miracle,
making strangers into family,
extending to the ends of the earth.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Deep in caves

Imagine the light of Creation
had been taken and broken into little bits,
wrapped in some kind of skin
and hidden deep in caves
in far polar regions, deep underground.
For centuries people sought the light,
suspected it, told stories,
even unseen it was their hope.

The sea moved sometimes as if
the light were at the bottom of it,
but it wasn’t there.

This is not a myth; it is all literally true,
only the caves are closer,
much closer.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
Listen to the audio recording:

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