One splendid autumn day

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

One splendid autumn day
light leaps from leaves,
an ecstasy of yellow, red and orange,
your eyes enflamed with glory,
caught up in the moment’s crimson rapture.
But then, when flame gives way to smoke,
and embers cool to ochre, dull and sere,
when fire gives way to ash
and winter’s long stone wall,
will those moments be any less given,
any less precious and passing?
The light, even the light that languishes
beneath an asphalt sky,
beneath a soggy tarp of cloud,
still leaps within the light.
In the eye behind the eyes,
where grace is more than splendor,
every stain or shadow is a form of beauty,
the angle of a door a prayer,
and glory is the hidden name,
and praise a coiled spring within.

__________________

Weather Report

A glorious day,
as thick clouds,
unpleasant winds and incessant rain
reveal the divine presence
and the wonder of created Being
beyond the visible front
that is continually moving through our area.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Children of the resurrection

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.


“In the resurrection from the dead … They cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection…. God is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to God all of them are alive.”

                  — From Luke 20. 27-38

Jesus is talking about the afterlife. But also, he isn’t. God is the God of the living, not the dead. Our faith is about how to live, not what happens to us when we die. If we believe in Resurrection, that we are somehow raised after we go to the grave, then we live right now as if we trust it. We live as children of the resurrection. If we know that we are raised after we die, then we have no reason to fear death. It has no power over us. Even before death, we already cannot die anymore.

Since God gives us life that even death can’t overcome, that is the life we seek, and the grace we trust. We are not bound by the need to protect ourselves or preserve ourselves. We have no reason not to give ourselves away. We have no fear of taking risks for the sake of compassion. We can give of ourselves in attentiveness to others, unburdened by defensiveness, competition or greed. As children of the resurrection, in this life we are free. By the grace of God we are truly, deeply, joyfully alive.

Today, live with courage as a child of the resurrection.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

Voting and praying

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
Yesterday your vote went into a pile, became a number, and got added up and compared to another pile. And then it disappeared. It’s over. But when you pray your prayer goes into God, and is treasured forever.

When you vote, you are trying to influence an outcome. When you pray you let go of outcomes and become open to God’s inflowing grace.

When you vote, you try to get someone or something else to change. When you pray you yourself change—which changes the world.

When you vote and lose, nothing comes of it. You lost. When you pray for something that has not come yet, as when you pray for peace, or justice for the poor, your prayer vibrates in harmony with the delight of God, which is the energy of the world, and transforms the world.

Your vote may or may not have an effect but your prayer always has an effect. You are a nerve cell of God. When you pray you deepen the world’s awareness.

It was good that you voted yesterday. Now pray, and exercise some real power.
         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Voting

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
One might think that it’s Halloween when the witches, ogres, monsters and all those scary figures finally take their costumes and go away. But it’s really not ’till Election Day. Political ads have become increasingly negative to the point where it seems like an election is a Halloween contest for the scariest costume (we all know it’s pretend) and the winner is whoever comes in last.

It’s a symptom of our fear—not just fear of somebody doing something we don’t like, but fear of what’s inside us, fear of our own inner monsters. We want to be distracted from our vulnerability and our powerlessness and our shame. We want some cheesy issue to distract us from what really gnaws at us. We get inflamed about what other people ought to do so that we can ignore how we ought to change. We’re glad to be made afraid of terrorists or immigrants or welfare cheats so we don’t have to be afraid of our own selfishness and violence. We obsess with political issues so we can ignore God’s issues, like poverty and war and our abuse of God’s Creation.

The Bible says that love of money, that is, the desire to protect one’s riches, is the root of all kinds of evil. Yet candidates will brag about how much of your riches they will protect (while actually putting in the hands of rich, powerful, unregulated corporations). The Bible says to love your neighbor, but candidates promise to separate you from your neighbors and disengage you from their struggles. Lusting for power, candidates pretend to be “ordinary people.” Candidates will claim to be “outsiders” with fresh perspectives, but ignore the needs of the real outsiders, those who are dispossessed and despised, foreign or voiceless.

It’s as if we are invited, begged, to vote with fear and rancor, with cynicism and disregard for reality. But you—you, my friends, reading this on your computer screen this Tuesday morning— you will vote differently. You will vote prayerfully. You will vote gently and compassionately, with courage and generosity, without fear or self-serving, without bitterness or hate. You will vote as you live, in love and grace, and in truth. As Jesus bids you, you will vote for the sake of the poor, for those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted. You will vote with love. And if voting does not seem to accomplish this for you, if you leave the voting booth no more loving and courageous than you entered, then you’ve got the rest of the day to work on that. Shed the costumes, face your deepest fears, and learn to trust more deeply in the grace of God. The “results” won’t show up in tomorrow’s papers, but they’ll change the world.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

All Saints Day

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

You are God’s holy saint,
chosen and blessed,
given sacred gifts,
invested with divine powers.
You were born to radiate the glory of God,
to fulfill God’s deepest desires,
to complete God’s delight.
You are given an extraordinary heart
for love, if only you discover it.
All that you do
has hidden in it this holy purpose,
this infinite potential.

You are not unusual among saints,
neither more nor less sanctified than any of them.
They are all people who have lives,
who wake up and make choices,
who do chores and forget things
and do not understand their place
in the splendor of the heavens.
This is not an excuse.

You were born to be holy.
This is not a burden,
not a duty, a command or an obligation,
not a threat or a trap.
It is a gift.
Let it be a wonder,
a mystery to ponder,
so that in your hands
it becomes a gift,
and you join the great choir
singing the magnificence of this life
and the One who gives it.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Zacchaeus on Halloween

I’m invited to a dinner, OK? Weird thing is, it’s at my place. Get this: I’m invited to be the host… invited to invite… Yeah, weird. What’s even weirder: it’s a costume party—you know, Halloween— and I’m coming disguised as myself. It’s a crazy disguise, actually. Starts in a tree. Well, that’s me disguised as a tall person. And disguised as somebody who doesn’t really care. You know, at a bit of a distance, above it all, just curious, but not serious? Yeah, right. I would have died to be close to that guy, but I’m not about to let anybody see. So…. so the disguise.

But—the disguise doesn’t fool him for a minute. He sees right thought it. “Hey, Zacchaeus!” (How the heck did he know it was me?) “I’m coming to your place. Lunch.” Whoa. Me? Who does he think I am? So we go. Now I’ve still got on a great disguise, a disguise that’s fooled everybody forever: I go as a monster. An ogre. You know, like a tax collector, a greedy, slimy guy wallowing in stolen riches, living off other people’s suffering. A scary dude. And again— it doesn’t work! Dang if he doesn’t see right through it. He knows it’s a disguise, knows that it’s really me under there. Only, OK, here’s the really weird part: I don’t know it. I don’t realize that this is not the real me.

Until we sit down to eat. What is it about eating with thus guy? And he looks right through me, right through this thing that everybody else sees but isn’t true, and he sees the real me beneath the costume, the me I’ve never even seen. And he respects that Zacchaeus that he sees, loves me, even. And, you know what? I love that Zacchaeus, too. And I think I’d love being that Zacchaeus. I think I will! I don’t need to wear that costume, don’t need to carry around this image of someone I’m not, somebody other than my real self, my real soul. No disguise.

So I take it off. I get rid of the whole thing. All the trappings. The greed, the money, the callousness. I give it away until there’s nothing left but the person Jesus sees, this grateful, generous guy. I give it all away like party favors. And it is a party. It’s like my birth day party! I’m a new person. I’m free! I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven.

Which, I guess, I have. Maybe that’s what he means when he says, “Salvation has come to this house. I came to seek and to save the lost.” Well, I don’t know exactly what he was seeking, but I know what I’ve found. No fooling.

         

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Live by faith

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

O Lord, how long shall I cry to you “Violence!”
         and you will not save?
Why do you make me see wrongdoing
         and look at trouble?
Destruction and violence are before me;
         strife and contention arise.
So the law becomes slack
         and justice never prevails.

Then the Lord answered me and said:
         there is still a vision for the appointed time.
It knows how this all will end;
         it does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
         it will surely come, it will not delay.
Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them,
         but the righteous live by their faith.

                  —from Habakkuk 1.2-4; 2. 2-4

You who continually pray for peace, who long for wisdom from our leaders and healing and reconciliation among all peoples, who labor for justice for the dispossessed and who wait for the day of joy for all who are sorrowful, who dream of the angel of forgiveness laying her wings over the world and the spirit of gentleness walking among all people—you who wait for the Day of God—take heart. In times of violence and greed, times of fear and bitterness, we may lose courage, lose our hope in the vision. But God is at work in this world. Grace hides in all things. Uncounted souls are giving of themselves to the mending of the world in ways we cannot see or know. But listen: the mighty Day of Joy will not come because we labor to produce it; it will be given as a gift from beyond time, and therefore we labor to prepare for it.

Our faith is not optimism that the “good guys” will win. It is trust that Being itself is good, and enfolds even evil. God includes all things, even our struggles. Even death itself is swallowed up in resurrection. Faith is trust in the hidden blessing in all things, even things fraught with evil and suffering. When we live by fear, our spirit is not right in us. But we who love, live by our faith in God.

Trust in the vision. Wait for it. It will surely come.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Treed

         (Luke 19.1-10, Zacchaeus)

You’ve got me treed,
held in the cross-hairs
of your sharpshooter grace
up here with all my complications,
trapped among these anxious limbs
(we hold each other nervously).
I just wanted to peek,
to keep my distance,
observe and play it safe—
but now you’ve named me,
nailed me
(I could just die)—
and there is no way to save myself
from this tree of my undoing
(I could just fall)
but through you,
through your grave command,
your invitation
to become the host
in breaking bread
(still clinging, white-knuckled)
where I will recognize myself at last,
at last let go,
and rise from the table
into a spacious place,
a future I can’t imagine
until it cuts me loose.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

The heart sits

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

The eye wanders around the room
picking up things, dropping them,
not feeling them, just pointing,

the ear pokes around another room,
not really getting the full taste,
just the drift of things,

fingers fidget as they are wont,
and the tongue is way too busy
to notice any of them—

while the heart sits
in darkness and silence within,
and opens

to the One Who Embraces,
the One Who Fills,
the One Who Adores.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

The other wing

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

We don’t recognize the bright shapes
passing overhead
nor clearly ourselves
as we stump along the bitter ground,
enfolding burdens at our side,
trailing our one wing in the dirt
or flapping it desperately.

We are not all birds with one wing.
We are moths with one wing,
beautiful dragonflies
with one transparent wing,
majestic eagles who strike fear
into little ones with our talons, our beaks,
our one wing.

Isn’t there another wing?
Something in us knows.
We search, we steal, we build them,
glorious and strong and false,
we bind another to us whole,
or sever wings and strap them on,
or lop the first for symmetry.

But all of us should have two wings.
Where is the other one?
The beauty, the balance, the natural
lift and soar and fearless grace?

It is here.
         Let me touch you.
It is here.
         Let me look at you.
It is here.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net