Fire

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

I walk in falling flames of leaves
leaping to the heavens at my feet.
I am like a figure walking
in the fiery furnace.
How is it I am not consumed?
How is it I do not catch fire?

Ah, but I do. And I am.
How is it I do not wake up?

_____________________________
Weather Report

Incendiary,
If you get close enough.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
______________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Sooner or later

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
You can believe that you know
all the good stuff
pass by the altar with a knowing smile
nod at the prayer book the candle the mat
remembering that you’ve mastered it
carry the wise precepts in your wallet
as you go on
and on.

But sooner or later
in life or in death
you become still
lay down your burden
notice the weight absent from your shoulders
notice the sensation of not running in your feet
in your head
forget all you can do
everything you know
do this difficult thing
of being withheld
from the desperate chaos
being addressed
being loved
being not the One
who is doing the doing.

Sooner or later
and as often as you wish
you stop thinking
you are saved
and let it happen.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

The Pharisee and the tax collector

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         1.

Two men went up to pray,
one good enough and one not.
Neither you nor God, adoring,
can tell which is which.

Unless you’re so damn sure
you know,
in which case we can tell
which one you’re not.

         2.

The fruit of the tree
of Good and Evil
wasn’t knowing the difference
but thinking it was best.

Stop trying to guess
how good you are
and fall in love with God,
whose mercy is all there is.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

Listening

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

God, how are you speaking to me today?
With what tiny voice,
what weary but persistent voice,
like an resilient widow,
coming to me quietly again and again?
With the silence voice of the heavens,
of the created order—your Word made flesh?

What murmurings stir in my heart,
what subtle leanings, what recurring awareness?

Is there some gratitude, some blessing
that wants me to give it voice?
Is there some compassion that rises in me,
some yearning on behalf of my sisters and brothers?
Is there someone crying out
whom my hearts wants to hear?
Who is on my heart this day?

Might your truth be written already on my heart?
What truth, or insight, or question,
what unspoken wonder emerges from my silence?
What presence grants itself to me?
What invites my presence?

God, this is my faith, and my prayer:
I am listening.
Give me grace to hear.
Amen.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

God got tired

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

         
         

God got tired of office work,
the endless lists,
the promotions and demotions,
the staff, so sure of themselves,
yet sucking up all the time.
God got tired of the theorems,
the measurements, the grading.
(The one rubber stamp that said SAVED
was weary from overuse, the S and D
worn away so that it just said AVE;
the others languished in a drawer.)
God got tired of the office politics,
the micromanagement, the power.
God got tired of being right,
being the only one who had any brains,
being in charge of every damn little thing.
So God left the paperwork undone,
rose, stretched, and walked off,
passing under the official portrait
(in oils, not photography, so quaint!)
with its distant, imperious gaze
(and those eyebrows!)—
headed for the enormous door,
and then thought better of it, turned around
and slipped out the service entrance,
into the breeze, the light,
the greening spring,
into children looking up at parents,
into moments of doubt and wonder,
into the smallest acts of love,
into ordinary things around the house,
into the chalice of this day.

         
         

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

Psalm from a Chilean mine

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

God of grace, I praise you!
         Let me never take you for granted!
My very being is your doing,
         and my life is a testimony to you.
For I was buried deep
         and you brought me up.
I was in darkness
         and you gave me light.
I was in a narrow place
         and you have brought me out
to a spacious and open-armed land,
         to people who love me.

Cut off, I thought I was alone,
         but you were with me:
you accompanied me in my helplessness;
         you sat with me in my solitude.
In the dark, I could not see
         anyone to rescue me.
But there were those who prayed for me,
         who labored for my well-being.

How soon will I forget
         that you are my life?
How quiet will I be
         about your grace?
How afraid will I be of the dark,
         how despairing in my difficulties?

Holy One, you are my gladness;
         you are my confidence.
In my tightest spots I will trust you,
         and count on your unfailing grace.
When most alone I will rely on you,
         and your loving presence.
O God of Presence, you are my life.
         I thank you with all of my living.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

Psalm 19

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
                  Psalm 19

Creation sings the glory of God;
         the galaxies utter their prayers daily.
Each day is a word of God’s story;
         each night discloses the truth.
Oh, they don’t talk with words,
         not with audible voices.
But their message saturates the world,
         and reaches to the edge of the universe.
God has set the sun at home in this world,
         and every day it comes to marry us,
         comes to dance with vigor and grace.
It comes to our world from another,
         and visits everywhere,
         and no one is overlooked.

God’s love is all that we need;
         it restarts our hearts.
God’s wisdom is as sure as gravity;
         it sustains even the unwise.
God’s ways are pure beauty,
         delighting the soul.
God’s desire allures us,
         enlightens our eyes.

Live in wonder and awe and you become holy;
         you slip into the eternal.
The voice of God is What Is;
         pay attention and you truly live.
Throw away money for this kind of wisdom,
         even what you actually need.
Abandon all your loves for this Love,
         your favorite things, your most precious.

God, your love portrays me better than I;
         when I listen I become myself.
But who can see themselves clearly?
         Save me from my hidden faults.
Cut me loose from my attachment to myself.
         Set me free from my fears.
Help me live as a servant to life,
         not hurting or destroying.

God, may all my thoughts and words and actions
         be in harmony with your delight—
my Lifeboat, my Lover,
         my Life.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

Loss

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

So much is in a tiny boat
sailing away into the gray

you try so hard to keep
your balance on the space between

while you stand on this wide
virgin shore and behind you

stretches a whole continent
into the rest of the century

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

If you want

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

If you want
         you can find reasons to withhold.
In the autumn,
         some apples do not fall.
For every gift
         there is a regret, if you seek it.
The greater the leap
         the more possible it is to refrain.

An empty room
         has no shadows.
The more intense the silence
         the more deeply it is heard.
Without thinking,
         you often step into light.
You are never ready
         when the music overtakes you.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

Keep praying

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

There was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. A widow kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.” For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.”

          — Luke 18. 2-5

We have to confess: sometimes we judge; sometimes we neither honor God nor respect people. And God comes to us again and again, pleading for justice. All too often we refuse. But give thanks that God is continually coming, wearing us down with her grace.

God does not speak to us in thundering tones, through authoritative powers with clarion voices. God speaks in the quiet murmurs in our hearts, in gentle nudgings and nagging questions. While our imperious, judging egoistic mind is busy with its business, God speaks in subtle, unflagging leanings of our hearts, the widowed voices within us. And God speaks in the voice of the poor and dispossessed, the vulnerable and powerless, in the silence of those who have no voice. She wears us down with the truth, with slight but persistent invitations to pay attention to what is within us and around us, calling us to love, to justice, to courage.

Prayer is not our attempt to get God to pay attention; it is the attention we give to God. We are by nature hard of hearing toward God’s entreaties. So it takes time. We have to keep praying, keep listening. God’s Word calls us to love radically. It is often outside the range of our expectations or even our initial acceptance, so it takes courage to listen. We have to not lose heart. (“Will the Human One come and find faith on earth?”)

Be still and listen for the patient widow’s knock on your door. Listen for her voice. What might God be inviting you toward? How might God be seeking your attention? How is God coming to you now? Listen and wait; pray always and do not lose heart.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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