Deserted place

           In the morning, while it was still very dark,
           he got up and went out to a deserted place,
           and there he prayed.
           And Simon and his companions hunted for him.

                         —Mark 1.35-36

Find yours.
A dark place, a place of not seeing or knowing.
A place of solitude
free of anyone else’s voice,
no judgments, no expectations.
A place of soul-itude, where you are just your soul,
not your history or your choices,
not your personality, your values,
or even your memories.
Just your Being,
which is in God.

All those other things, release to God.
Your feelings, ideas, beliefs,
even your prayers,
leave them with God.
Allow yourself to be nothing other
than that little part of The Infinite
which is You.
In that emptiness, that deserted place,
listen. Wait. Be.
Let this mystery be enough: that you are being.
The All, the Whole, is also being, with you.
God is holding you.
Like a babe in mother’s arms, just be there.

When you’re ready for the next step,
be there for God.

On your way out you can pick up your things.
But know this: having been in God’s hands,
they will have been changed.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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           Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever.
           He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up.
           Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

                         —Mark 1.30-32

You needn’t save the world.
It might just be a fever
someone has, of flesh or heart,
a little thing.

The world around you
cries out for healing.
Possibly someone near you.

Take their hand.
Lift them up.
Receive their gifts.

This torn world is mended
one stitch
at a time.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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There is no one right way.
Follow my footprints in the snow
on the path I made
through the woods to the pond.
Twice the prints wander off
where I took photographs.
Once a snow-bent branch blocked the way,
so I went around.
And here, yes, I forgot where I was going
and started off toward the west, then came back.
Walk where you will and find the pond.

You have come this far.
You have sometimes taken a long way around,
followed the wrong hints.
You’ve discovered detours and short cuts.
There were no dead ends:
here you are.
Don’t kick yourself for what you think of as mistakes.

The question is not, Were you right?
The question is: What did you see?
What did you learn?

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Postcard from God


Know what I saw today? Ice sleeves on black branches. A kid banging her bag against her knees at a school bus stop. A little desert lizard. A volcano murmuring in its sleep. A heap of bricks in Gaza, some color on them. Birds in a small garden. Women weeping. Stars above dark, dark earth. Don’t regret where you are, or the places you seek. I’m there, too.


Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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           And the unclean spirit,
           convulsing him and crying with a loud voice,
           came out of him.

                         —Mark 1.26

Demons don’t leave easily.
Power tightens its grip.
There are recriminations. Harsh words.
Withdrawal symptoms.

Letting go of old habits,
slipping torturous comforts,
shedding false assurances, inner bullies—
they drag their hooks on the way out.

Sometimes doubt and tension,
resistance, even a little ripping,
might be what it feels like
being torn up out of the grave.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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         There was a man with an unclean spirit,
         who cried out, “What have you to do with us,
         Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?”
              —Mark 1. 23-24

Well, yes, Jesus has come not just to heal one man,
but to sabotage the very structure of evil.
And in particular to do away with the lie
of uncleanness.

Some things I’ve done, some things others have done to me,
make me feel dirty. Somehow unpresentable to God.
Jesus will have none of it.
It’s something about my past, not who I am.

I want to think of myself
on some scale of acceptability to God,
a little unclean, part of me troublingly unpresentable,
but cleaner than many.

Jesus will have none of it.
God welcomes all of us, dirt and all.
The crud on us, that both we and others have put there,
is not who we are. It’s just mud on the jewel.

Jesus, I know who you are, the holy one of God.
Cast out the spirit of uncleanness.
Help me see the shining gem in me and everyone:
beneath the shame, the wonder.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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The brook slides through icy woods.
Snow crawls up to the edges
to peer over, doesn’t fall in.
Rocks hunch under little glass hoods.
Branches hang into the water
wearing hoops skirts of ice.
The water snakes between rocks,
under ice fans, over little falls.
It has come from somewhere,
goes somewhere,
but now
it is here, inviting me to be here,
just here.

What has happened, accepted.
What is, released.
What shall be, allowed.

One ice crystal,
steady above the water,
its little fingers
pointing at everything.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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           He taught them as one having authority.
                         —Mark 1.22

You’ve seen the magic tricks,
maybe a few special effects
in an extravagant worship service.
You’ve seen some preachers get rich,
some doctrines take the throne.

Your senses are titillated,
your appetites aroused,
but your heart is unconvinced.

Only real love speaks with authority,
heartfelt care for others
as companions in the cell of life.
Kindness trumps everything,
and your heart knows it.

Trust that.
Even in the face of menacing neighbors
and cruel magistrates,
in the balances of the cosmos,
nothing outweighs kindness.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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The call to stay

           “Follow me.”

Sometimes the call is to stay.
Not to head off on some new adventure
but to work through where you’re at,
to make peace, to mend a relationship,
to endure a struggle, to fulfill faithfulness,.
Sometimes Jesus needs you most crucially
right where you are, to be his vessel
in exactly what you’re doing, with new love,
to accompany him where you always go,
to do the same old thing with new light,
to bear grace, even at home.

May the Steady One be with you,
sustain you in your work,
companion you in your challenges,
and grant you strength, wisdom, perseverance,
love, beauty and courage.

If you are in Christ
then where you are is holy ground.
God bless you deeply,
and increase your delight.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Without a net

           Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”
           And immediately they left their nets
           and followed him.

                                               —Mark 1.17-18

Jesus, Quiet One,
your call is not just the seashore challenge
to change my vocation.
You call every moment,
every conversation, every choice.
You whisper gently,
“Here. Come with me. This way.”

Am I radically open to your nudging,
ready to go an unexpected way?
What entangling nets must I let go of,
what habits and comforts must I leave behind,
what familiar safety net must I forgo,
what that I thought I knew
will I have to cease to know?

What nets have me?
Here, now, Beloved, draw me out. Set me free.

Working without a net.
Just your presence, your quiet, your love.

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

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