I do not call you servants any longer…
              but I have called you friends.

                                     —John 15.15

Jesus will have no hierarchies,
no separations or divisions,
not even between us and him.
“Call no one good but God.”
There are no greater and lesser,
no servants and masters,
no insiders and outsiders.
Not even believers and unbelievers.
Only friends, peers, siblings, companions.
Every stranger is a sibling.
Every person you meet is a friend
for whom you would lay down your life.
There is no “them.” There is only us.
In the love of Christ, befriend this world
and everyone in it;
you will never be alone.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Loving myself

God, teach me to love myself
as you have loved me:
to cherish myself, to delight in my soul,
to appreciate my journey, to care for my well-being,
to commit to my wholeness.
Give me grace to respect and nurture myself,
to offer myself both challenge and rest.
Teach me to forgive myself, to be gentle with myself,
to believe in myself and your hidden greatness in me.
Trusting in my belovedness, I am free and at peace:
in need but not needy, not compulsive, not afraid,
not easily seduced by either pride or despair.
Teach me to love myself
even as you do.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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The brook lays itself down among the trees,
ambling around the hips and shoulders
of the land, not in a hurry, satisfied
to allow itself to be let down to the sea
as the earth will draw it, not of its own mind,
but by the will of gravity and the ground
where it finds itself. It hurries only
when steepness beckons, then pools
in pooling places, pausing, languid,
here or there as if to savor, or to recollect.
Where there are falls it falls.
The water murmurs over stones
when they present themselves, swirling
beside the roots and mosses, gathers
behind a bosom of sticks and leaves
a storm has laid down, then finds its way
beneath them, uncomplaining.
It quietly collects some scalloped ribs of sand,
and just as quietly lets them go.
The stream receives the frogs and fish
who shelter there, and bears the water bugs
who skitter on its face, as well as storm-flung limbs
and whole great trees that fall and settle
in its bed. The water moves around, and carries on.
The brook surrenders itself to the pond,
and waits. At last it sighs over the spillway,
submits to the culvert beneath the road,
and moves on, until, when it is time,
when it is time, it finds the sea.
The spring and the cloud, the ocean,
and the great flowing beneath the earth are all here,
yet the brook is only here.

I will sit with you a while, little brook.
Teach me.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Abide in my love

             “Abide in my love.”
                        —John 15.9

Christ, you are the breath that moves in me,
the heartbeat that makes me alive.
I breathe in your love; I breathe out your love.
Your compassion is the earth that holds me.
Your delight is the sun that warms me, and energizes me.
Your love is the vine I grow from,
the root of my being.
Your love is the path I walk, and the forest.
Your love is my little boat, and the wind, and the sea.
When I am brought low or exalted, you hold me.
When I am challenged you enable me.
I will not let go of the grace that clings to me;
I will not abandon the mercy that never turns from me.
I will not flee from the love than enfolds me.
I will stay. I will endure. I will abide.
In your love, rooted as a branch in the vine,
I will abide.

Breath prayer:
                           In your love … I abide

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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As I have loved you

             This is my commandment,
             that you love one another as I have loved you.

                        —John 15.12

Beloved, love in me
that I may love with your love.
You delight in me, grateful for my being.
You see what is holy and glorious in me,
and hold great hope for me.
You serve me humbly, attend to me,
listen deeply to me,
forgive me for all my failings,
and offer healing for all my wounds.
You give yourself entirely for me,
and endure mistreatment for my sake.
May I be so grateful and attentive
to others, to serve and forgive,
to listen, and lift, and bless,
to give of myself for their sake.
May my love not merely be an imitation of yours,
but your love flowing through me,
that I may truly love as you love me.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Spiritual therapy

      The hand is an extension of the brain. You want to pick up the glass, and the nerve impulse travels faster than thought, and your hand just does it. It’s how the brain gets things done, and why we “talk with our hands.” But sometimes, due to injury or disease, the nerve impulse doesn’t get through, or the tendons are severed, or the muscles have atrophied. The brain thinks it, but the hand can’t do it.
       So sometimes we need physical therapy: small, repetitive motions that accomplish nothing in themselves but allow the body to re-establish a neural pathway, or stretch ligaments, or strengthen muscles.
       You are a hand of God, an extension of God’s will. What God desires travels by the Holy Spirit faster than thought and you do it. But it doesn’t always work as intended. The nerve impulse doesn’t get through, or the tendons are severed, or the muscles are weak. As Paul says, “I know the good, but I can’t seem to do it.” So we need physical therapy for the soul, which is prayer: small, repetitive movements that don’t accomplish anything on their own but allow for our renewal as the Body of Christ. Rest. Trust. Listen. Give thanks. Forgive. Receive forgiveness. Extend compassion.
       We can’t hurry the process. We accept our weakness, and begin where we are. We practice. We celebrate tiny transformations. Over time, we more and more fully discern and do the will of God.
       Five reps, three sets, daily. Keep at it.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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In our anxiety we seek stability,
addicted to the status quo; it’s an old habit.
When the kingdom is jolted
the army reacts, and the old order is restored.
Everyone plays their given part, or is replaced,
and the cycle continues.
Ancient wounds are maintained, pristine.
This is life in human community.

But not in the Realm of God.
The always predictable isn’t always.
What is stable is shifted; everything is transformed.
Forgiveness destroys the old order.
Resurrection isn’t return, but moving on.
Every moment, there is no going back.
The tectonic plates keep drifting.
All that is, is becoming.
Though it upsets the balance
and shocks the multitudes,
life keeps tipping toward grace.
No matter how permanent it seems,
everything is a chrysalis.
Even you.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Vine and branches

           I am the vine, you are the branches.
           Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit;
           apart from me you can do nothing.
                                              —John 15.5

Christ, you are the vine.
We are your branches.
We are all part of one another.

I am rooted in you,
your life flowing through me.
In you I flourish.
It is not by my talent or capacity,
but your love in me, by which I bear fruit.
When I am wounded your life renews me.
When I am weak other branches sustain me.
When I lose my way your hold on me restores me.
Your Spirit bears fruit in me, and I offer it to the world.
Prune in me what does not bear fruit,
and nourish what does, by your grace.

You, the thriving vine,
I your love-bearing branch.

P.S. Here’s Vine and Branches set for congregational singing.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Winter, spring, winter, spring

The joke in Montana was that the season go:
summer, fall, winter, spring, winter, spring,
winter, spring…
One year it snowed in June, heavy. Leaves were out;
we’d been mowing lawns for a month.
Trees and branches fell under the weight.
We stood in the street assessing the damage
when up popped the neighbor’s automatic sprinklers,
faithfully watering eight inches of snow.

There are frogs whose blood chemistry enables them
to freeze solid in the winter. In the spring they thaw out
and carry on as before. They can freeze and thaw
multiple times in one season.

The seasons of the soul don’t progress smoothly,
or even always forward. Sometimes winter follows spring.
When your secret life is dark and cold,
when prayer has become strangely pointless
and God, once warm and near, is now a sheet of ice,
fear not. This happens.
The Mysterious One is not absent;
the world hasn’t slipped on its axis;
there’s nothing wrong with you.
The little frog of your soul has gone into hibernation,
waiting for a season only it knows.
God is right there, frozen solid with you.
Be patient. Look for little bits of love and beauty.
Don’t expect a warm spring sunrise. Just little bits.
In time your inner frog will thaw out and once again
you’ll hear its warbly little song.

Weather Report

expect violent thunderstorms,
warm zephyrs and hard freezes
in no particular order.
Be prepared to enjoy, or shelter in place.
Conditions will pass,
but the Invisible One will abide.

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

Earth Day

We are part of earth, not separate, not foreign.
Earthlings. We are not the whole earth,
but we are not anything else.
Every molecule of our flesh
is from the planet’s dirt and water.
The tides in our veins, the forests in our gut,
our mountains and valleys of bones,
our breathing in and out, all are of the Earth.
The red oak and the white tailed deer,
the water buffalo, the giraffe and the penguin,
the worm and mycelium,
the springs and rivers and the wandering winds,
all embrace us, include us, flow in and out of us.
Here we belong.

And so it is true of God. We belong.
We are not God, or even a great part of God.
But we are nothing else. Godlings.
Made of God, contained in God,
belonging in God. We are God’s microbiome.
God flows in and out of us.
We will never comprehend the Infinite One,
but only know that God is in everything we do.

Our calling, on earth and in God,
is to honor our belonging.

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

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