Prodigal prayer

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.” … The older son said, “For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends.”
— from Luke 15

This is a story about two sons who are both selfish, and a father who is lavishly generous. As are all of Jesus’ parables, it’s a story about abundance. Notice that both of the sons treat the father the same: they do not care about him or his presence; they only want his stuff. Isn’t that how we pray most of the time? We ask God for stuff: “Heal this disease. Make this work out OK. Answer my petition.” But we don’t simply open ourselves to God’s presence. How seldom we pray, “God, no matter what happens, I just want to be with you.” It comes from our fear that there won’t be enough blessing. When we feel that God does not answer our prayers, it’s probably because we’re just asking for God’s stuff. But God’s answer to our prayer is always the same: “You are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.”

Even in praying for others we can pray our selfishness— “here’s what I want” —and forget to pray our generosity: “Here’s what I trust; here’s what I offer.” Christ invites us to be prodigal (recklessly extravagant) in prayer toward God and others, even those who have hurt us. This spirit of abundance is rooted in our most basic prayer: our openness to God’s presence and blessing, and our desire to be present for the One who is present for us. It is to pray, “God, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.”

Listen for God’s Presence, and entrust yourself to it.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

Come to yourself

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.” So he divided his property between them…. He came to himself. … “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.” … “Let us eat and celebrate, for this son of mine was dead and is alive again!’ … “I have been working like a slave for you.” … “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.”
—from Luke 15

There come times when we “come to ourselves” and know that we can not be the person we are trying to be. We have no choice but to let that person die. The younger son can’t be the independent, self-defined maverick. Nor can he be the repentant sinner. The father won’t treat him as either of those, but only as his Beloved. The older son can’t be the righteous one to whom something is owed. He, too, can only be the Beloved. Even the father can’t be the patriarch of a close, healthy family. He can only be Beloved.

You can’t be that person you are trying so hard to be: the one everyone likes… the one who is right… the middle aged person whose body works properly… the spiritually mature person who knows what you’re doing…. You try to be such a person, but you can’t. That’s all right. Let that person die.

When we let go of the person we think we ought to be, then we have no option but to receive the person God gives us to be. That one is neither sinful nor righteous, but Beloved. And, like the father in the story, one who has died and been raised is loving, generous, patient and forgiving. This is the mystery of dying and being raised.

Let the person you are trying so hard to be die and rest in peace. Let God, with infinite grace, grant you the person you truly are: Beloved.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

Psalm 32

Blessing! You have forgiven me
My sin you have washed away.
You find nothing wrong with me.
What lives in my soul is true.

When I was not honest about my sin
it ate at me.
My body bore its weight all day.
It sapped my strength like a hot, humid day.

When I was honest with myself,
and stopped trying to fit the old of a “good person,”

when I gave you my real self, just as I am
you forgave me! You forgave me!

So when we want our lives to be blessing
we attend to you.
In you there is no distress:
even rushing floodwaters can’t reach us.

You are my safe place:
you stand between me and trouble;
you put your arms around me
You show me the way of Life;
you guide me from within.

I can act like a hungry animal, a stubborn mule,
all muscle and instinct with no intent.
But living from one pang to another
only begets more pangs.

While trusting in you,
I am bathed in steadfast love.
We are glad in you God! We rejoice!

We who love you sing for joy!

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

Woods are all around

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

The woods are all around, all around.
Night sky wraps itself about me,
snow cherubs sitting in the trees,
ornaments made of stars
hanging in bare branches,
the snow rounding everything up
to the next nearest shape.
The snow, not cold enough to squeak,
shuffles as I walk, making sounds
like turning over in bed.
A skinny, pre-pubescent moon
follows me without wavering.
I walk out into the meadow, look up,
and the trees are gone but not the ornaments,
or the shy little moon.
I remember riding in a car, real young,
dark out, forehead against the window,
amazed that the moon rode with us,
shooting through the trees, slipping
behind buildings and reappearing,
so calm, right there, staring at me.
All these years later, she’s still here.
Standing on the belly of the earth
I can feel the earth breathing in her sleep
under this dream of snow.
What you said to me walks beside me;
I turn around and even in the dark
there is it, breathing little clouds.
I carry the bundle of my body out here,
with warmth I got earlier, from the sun
I guess, and from food from some far places.
My blood is a wild animal that stalks,
close, always hidden. My breath isn’t mine;
each breath is given to me and given again,
though I can’t see it in the dark. I believe
I am made of this stuff: snow and stars and
puffs of breath. Turning for home,
I think there is no such thing
as all alone.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © 2010
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

Isaiah 55.1-11

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

Listen. Are you thirsty?
Come.
What are the guts of your soul starving for?
Here. Eat. It’s good.
Why spend yourself for junk,
for wrapping without food?
Listen: here is a Word you can feast on,
something you can chew on forever.
The Word is: Listen.
Just keep listening and you’ll live.
The Holy One says, “I listen to you
like the moon listens to the earth.
I promise myself.
I’ve wed myself to you for generations.”
There is a royal part of your heart that knows,
that shines with regal splendor.
People won’t know why they are drawn to that light.
(Because: the Beloved is in you!)
Seek the Present One in this moment,
not in some wish or regret.
She is here. Call to her and listen.
Let go of your life-pinching ways,
your fearful thoughts.
Turn instead to the Delightful One,
who will only be gentle with you,
who will forgive, and bless, and delight you
way more than ought to be possible.
(Of course this sounds strange.
Can you put your hand around the moon?
No, nor your thoughts around God.)
Loving Mystery says:
“Your thoughts can’t get at me.
Your ways won’t lead to me.
This is a different way of thinking,
a different way of being.
Let my ways transform yours, my thoughts yours.
Rain and snow fall, and don’t turn around half way.
They water the earth and make it green,
bringing out seed for the sower and bread for the eater.
So is my love that rains from my heart.
It doesn’t turn around half way.
It fulfills its purpose.
In it, everything is completed.
Here.”

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

Psalm 63. 1-8

Holy
One,
you are my Being.
I seek you.

My soul thirsts for you,
my flesh is weak without you;
I am a dry and thirsty land
without water

I have seen you in the heart of things,
your power and glory right here.
Your steadfast love is better than life.
My being is your praise.

So I will live as your blessing,
and my mindfulness will be your name.
I who was thirsty have feasted.
I speak of you with my mouth full.

I soak in attentiveness to you as I go to sleep
you are my first awareness as I wake.
You are my Life, my Heaven, my Friend.
In the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.

My soul comes from you.
You hold me close, strong and gentle.
Holy One, you are my Being.
I seek you.

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

Repent

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

Those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.
—Luke 13.4-5

At some level we believe that there is such a thing as “deserving,” that somehow God or the universe keeps score of our past choices and then later rewards or punishes us for them. This is not true. Neither good fortune nor bad is a sign of anything but luck. (Workers are exploited… cheaters win… saints get cancer… good things happen to bad people and vice versa.) But our poor little egos, running on our logical right brains, can’t get this, since they see everything in terms of predictability, formulas, cause and effect. So they just pretend that it’s true anyway. And we live our lives chasing and being chased by guilt and worthiness. We live false lives, and the person we really are perishes.

Jesus invites us to jump off that not-so-merry-go-round that goes nowhere. “Repent,” he says. To repent doesn’t mean to jump back on the reward-and-punishment merry-go-round only on a more righteous horse. It means to go a new way. It means to “turn,” to head in a different direction, and as we do, we “turn,” we change.

To repent means to turn away from the illusion of rewards and punishment, and return to the present moment, to return to God, who is only in the present moment. God is not in the past, or attached to the past. God is here, now. To repent is to join God in the present moment.

Certainly, we turn from evil and selfish ways. But not in order to get a better grade. We do it because God is pure compassion, and as we turn to God we are turned into God’s reflection.

Return. Receive your life, your living, your breath, from God. Let this moment be a divine gift. Be present to the Holy in this moment. Then regardless of your luck, you will be with God.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

Judgment of light

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and we loved darkness rather than light because our deeds were evil. For when we do evil we hate the light and do not come to the light, so that our lives may not be exposed. But when we live what is true we come to the light, so that we may clearly see our lives in God.
— John 3. 19-21

Beloved, because you live perfectly within me,
I am not afraid to look there.

Because you inhabit my darkness
I am not afraid to hold it up to the light.
You shine yourself through my brokenness;
you pour your own darkness into my night,
filling the cavity of me,
as a candle fills the shape of a cavern.
From within my darkness, light rises.

In you my dense midnight becomes transparent;
my shadow becomes dear
and without fear I look through it.

Light of all Creation, light of love,
you forgive my sin
like light forgives darkness.

Light of my own true soul,
I am not afraid to walk into you.
I am not afraid for you to dawn within me.
I am not afraid to become you.

_______________________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

Getting the driveway done

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

Perfect snow piles up on the branches,
perches on every post and wire,
puts big hats on everything.
The morning sun stands like a wizard
behind the big tree at the end of the driveway,
making little sparkles of light fall from it.
Gold and silver, amber, with a touch of blue.

I need to shovel the driveway before the snow
gets heavy, before we need to drive out.
I grab the shovel, and as I pass Buddha,
sitting on his little bench in the garden
by the corner of the garage, smiling,
he says, “I’ll help you, if you help me first.”

I look at the driveway, five inches deep and
a hundred and fifty feet long. Buddha is
a nice guy, but he’s made of cement
and is not likely to handle a shovel real well.
I look at him, his serene smile, his hands
resting on his knees like he’s got all the time
in the world. I say, “OK.”

So I stand there with him and stare at the tree,
the light falling from it into the driveway,
the magic sparkles leaping off of everything,
white and silver and gold, transfiguring the air,
for a long time, until he is good and satisfied,
a long, quiet time beneath the passing sky.

Then we get to the driveway: even and patient,
stooping and throwing in a sublime rhythm,
scraaape and shuffle, scraaape and shuffle,
a rhythm from the old monastery, the temple drums,
the rhythm of presence, attentive rhythm,
content with our labor, heaving light into the air.
Short and stubby as he is, he’s amazing with a shovel.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © 2010
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

The gathering one

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

Some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! 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. 31-34

Lamb of God,
you take away the sins of the world.
Have mercy on us.

You are not the Demanding One;
you are the Gathering One.

The death squads are lacing their boots
and preparing their weapons
and still you heal and set free.

We bristle with death
and still you embrace us.

You gather our pain,
our violence, our fear.
You gather our sorrow
and hold it
until we come
to be gathered ourselves.

Lamb of God,
you take away the sins of the world.
Have mercy on us.

Their boots echo in the alleyways,
their little jokes between them,
and still you extend your gentle touch;
your embrace awaits us.

Already you are living resurrection,
inviting us to be gathered in.

Whisper this to the sky:
this work will be completed.

Lamb of God,
you take away the sins of the world.
Grant us your peace.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections