Communion

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

He lies in bed beside her,
her life alongside his,

hears the river of her breathing,
feels the gravity of her flesh,

imagines her in the dark,
not doing anything, just lying there

half asleep, just being, and feels
an ardor sweetly rising in him,

not a craving but an inclination,
desire mingled with delight,

not for anything she could do
but simply by her being there,

and before he turns to touch her
he hesitates, waits in the hovering dark,

and savors the arousal of his fondness,
her effortless effect upon him,

her praise alive in him,
purely granted, not achieved,

and he thinks,
“So this is how God feels,

watching us in our sleep
and in our waking,”

and relishing his vivid gratitude
he reaches for her softly.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

What your soul needs

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

When I go to a quilt shop with Beth, while she hunts for fabrics I just look for pretty stuff. And I always go the the solids, bolts of pure color, and look for the particular color that my eyes need that day. I don’t know what it means, but there are days when my eyes really want to see green, or a yellowish orange, or deep blue. I don’t “figure it out.” I just look until my eyes rest with a certain color. They know what they need.

The same is true of our souls. We each have areas in which we can tell when our plants need watering or our pianos need tuning, or what’s needed to make the salad taste right. How often do we attend to what our souls need? At any particular time we may need rest or challenge, solitude, community, answers, questions, clarity, mystery, healing, forgiveness, light, darkness, courage, color, beauty, comfort, tension, words, silence… What a gift we can give ourselves by paying attention to what our souls need, and doing our best to give them that.

What does you soul need today— right now? Don’t try to figure it out. Your body will probably give you some hints. It’s not merely a matter of “doing what feels right.” (Our feelings will often gladly lead us astray.) It’s a matter of being still and listening to your soul until it tells you, until it comes to rest on a certain color.

You may not be able to go right out and get it. But you can be open; you can seek. (Seek, and you will find…) You may not be able to discern easily between what your soul needs and other appetites and desires. But you can ask. You can wonder. (Ask, and it will be answered…) There may be no clarity, no reply from your soul. But you can let the question simply be a part of your prayer, part of your awareness during the day. Be open to what your soul craves, and be open to honoring that as you can. And trust that “It is God’s good pleasure to give you the whole Realm” (Lk. 12.32).

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

Didn’t you know

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

I say to you what the birds said to me
when I arrived after a long journey
and inquired about those I loved.
What the birds said,
threading their distances,
I say to you:

Didn’t you know
that you were borne all along,
that those who travel and those who wait
are carried alike?

Didn’t you know
that blessing flies with us perfectly,
like birds in a flock,
so you can’t tell who turns first,
who leads—us or the blessing—
whether we rest or leap from air to air?

What the moon said,
knitting her shawls of light and of darkness,
I say to you:

Couldn’t you tell that Love
follows us like a shadow,
and in all our desolations and consolations
bears us in her hand?

Couldn’t you tell
that the unseen are with us always,
that the orbit of love cannot be broken?

What the earth said,
that carried me there and carried me home,
I say to you:

It is too much to remember for a lifetime,
so remember just for this day
that the farthest paths and the wide horizon,
and those who travel them,
are nested in the hand of God,
that you can’t leave the One who wants you,
that even the lone bird
at the edge of the farthest sea
is at home.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

All through your life

Dear Beloved, God will bless you all through your life,
Love’s own gentle hand caress you, all through you life.
You are made by God’s designing, with the holy Presence shining.
Grace will be your silver lining all through your life.

Journey hand in hand with Jesus all through your life.
Walk with him who heals and frees us all through your life.
Like him may you be forgiving, generous and freely giving.
Risen, new, receive your living, all through your life.

May the Holy Spirit lead you all through your life,
guide, protect, renew and feed you all through your life.
In the light of our redeeming, with divine compassion gleaming,
be a light for others, beaming all through your life.

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

A blessing

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

(Colossians 1.9-14)

I do not cease praying for you:

May you be sensitive to God’s delight.
May Spirit be your window on the world.
May you be in harmony with the Holy One,
your life a gift to God.

May you continually grow closer to God.
Your life be full of loving deeds.
God’s grace be strong in you.
May you be prepared to endure everything
with patience.

May gratitude to God fill your heart:
for as with all her children, her holy ones,
the Loving One has claimed you
and given you her light.

She has rescued us
from the dark tombs that encase us
and brought us into the realm of her Beloved,
in whom we have life again,
and are set free.

Alleluia!

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

The merciful Samaritan

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with compassion.
— Luke 10. 33

You have heard that it was said, “Go and do likewise.” In other words, go and be a “good Samaritan,” and help others.

Of course we ignore the hated status of the Samaritans. What this really means is “Serve those who despise or judge you, serve them with humility and compassion. Love those whom you hate. Bless those whom you want to curse. Go to your enemy, and help them.”

But listen: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho”— that’s us, we’re with him— “and he fell among robbers.” This is not just a story about being the Samaritan any more than it is about the Levite. It’s about being the man in the ditch. We lie there, weak and bleeding, while those who should help us pass by. Finally comes a rescuer—and it is our vile enemy! That moment—that feeling that we are dependent on the one we despise—that’s what this story is about.

It’s not about what we are obligated to give, or whom we ought to love. It’s about receiving. Those whom you curse have blessed you. Those whom you belittle have served you. Your enemy has saved you. Like Naaman, healed by an Israelite, you are made whole by the very people you be rid of. The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

We all have those we want to silence, shut out, or do away with altogether: illegal immigrants, gay pastors, the powerful elite, noisy children in church, bigots, coworkers who annoy us, addicts and criminals, political opponents… But the merciful Samaritan smiles at us, lying there needy and vulnerable on the roadside, and says, “Don’t be so quick to judge and exclude me. I am your savior.”

God’s grace comes to us from beneath, through those whom we do not see or do not want to see, through unworthy people and unfortunate events and unlikely channels. God comes to us in the one we have crucified. And despite our fear and resistance, our judgment and our attempts to separate ourselves, God showers gentle mercy on us, God loves us and saves us.

We lie on the bed at the inn, our bill paid, our wounds healing, our hearts wondering. And when we are ready, we rise and go out into the world with eyes of mercy, hearts of gratitude.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

One of them

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
.
.

In the woods
I walk among living creatures,
unjudged, unjudging,
speaking the word
of their green or breathing being,
invisibly rooted in each other,
fully and calmly attuned
to the whole,
until I become
one of them,
until I know
that I’ve always been
one of them.

.
.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

Psalm 30

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Psalm 30

I praise you joyfully, Holy One,
for you held me gently and firmly
and no one could take me from your arms.

In fear my heart whispered your name
and you whispered mine, remaking me.
You salvaged me from my hopelessness,
hauled me right out of the dump.

(You who love the Breather of Life,
sing her praise,
and give thanks to her holy Presence!)

In little moments you press against me,
but over a lifetime you hold me in love.
I pass through an evening of weeping
in a season of joy.

In comfort I said, “No worry. I’m immovable—”
forgetting it was you who held me up.
Then you hid for a moment
and suddenly I was lost.

Oh, then I begged on my desperate knees.
Before you I was a baby:
“Do you really want to lose this one?
Will my shadow look better without me?
Will the empty place I leave speak well of you?
Listen to me and be gentle!
Seriously, God, I need you!”

Strange, how you turn my tears of sorrow
always to tears of joy,
how this cloak of despair I wear
you reweave into a robe of splendor.

O Life, O Holy Presence, my soul
is not mute but sings your praise.
To you, the One, the Here and Now,
my life is my thanks, forever.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

What you are sent for

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
.

The Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them… “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you…. Cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”
— Luke 10.1, 5-6, 9

Remember when Jesus said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose” (Lk. 4.43)? Well, the same is true of you. Your existence is for a reason. You are sent out into this day for a purpose. You are here to convey the presence of God. You enter a new “town” whether it is a new city you live in or simply the present moment of each day: in strange or familiar surroundings, whether you are passing through or living where you have for decades, Christ sends you out into this world to make visible the nearness of the Reign of God. Whether you find yourself in a new, strange place, or if it never changes, the familiarity of the neighborhood is not the issue. The questions is how you are transparent to God’s grace.

You don’t need to convince people; just let it shine. Extend peace and healing. And don’t take personally how well you are received. Stay rooted in the peace that is given you. Here is the connection between justice and contemplation. If we are deeply rooted in the peace of Christ, we are prepared to extend peace and blessing even in difficult circumstances, in ways that bear witness to the Realm of God and help to transform of the world. The peace we extend is the peace that rests upon us.

Root yourself in the divine Presence. Steep your heart in grace. Then go out and be transparent to the holy. For this you have been sent.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

Wanderers

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Jesus said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Truly Human one has no place to lay his head.” . . . After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.
— Luke 9.58, 10.1

It’s the migration season. These are the days when United Methodists pastors are moving, to begin their new appointments on July 1. I know several (and some of other denominations, too) who are in the middle of cardboard boxes and address changes, goodbyes and hellos, endings and beginnings. It’s a strange existence, living as nomads, making and leaving friends, picking up and going, always going, with little or no control over where you are sent. (For all its benefits, the system contributes to a lot of hidden grief, loneliness, powerlessness and self-doubt among UM clergy, and churches, too. We seldom talk about it, but we should.)

Today I pray for all the world’s wanderers, for the nomads and the rootless, for the immigrants, the displaced and the perennial newcomers. For people who move for work, for the homeless, for illegal aliens, for migrant workers, for military families. For recent graduates who haven’t found their place. For runaway children. For foster children. For exiles. For refugees.

I pray for those who feel uprooted, when the world shifts and they no longer feel at home, for those who do not feel that they “belong.” For those who are searching for their place in the world. For those who are not welcomed.

Though you may feel alone, you are in good company. Jesus wanders with you. And there are others who wander with you, who know what you’re going through, and are thinking of you. Even on the strange road, you are among sisters and brothers, a communion of nomadic saints. We are people of the Exodus.

You do not wander aimlessly. Jesus himself, the Wandering One, has sent you ahead, where he himself intends to come. Wherever you are, Christ is with you. God is the land. Spirit is the road. Trust the Presence.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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