You are doing a hard thing

You are doing a hard thing.
Few people imagine what you’re going through.
It may appear heroic, or it may not look like much—
a personal struggle, or caring for someone,
or grieving, or maybe just aging—
but it takes heart and strength and patience.
There is much you have had to surrender.
It is sometimes exhausting, sometimes lonely.
But you are not alone. You are accompanied,
held in the bosom of the One who also walks this road,
who bears the prayers of all who have come this way,
for they are one with you.
Unseen, you are fed by the Spirit,
sustained by an energy of love,
the power of a hope that is greater than you,
a heart who treasures you, who lifts you, who includes you,
who believes in you.
You are doing a hard thing.
But it is the Infinite One in you who is working the hardest.
Let yourself be carried.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Do good or do harm?

              Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath,
              to save life or to kill?

                                  —Mark 3.4

In all our discerning
what is right or lawful or acceptable,
it comes down to this:
the choice to be kind or to be unkind.
The “right” thing to do is always kind;
cruelty is never right.
I am wary that what may feel like “justice” to me
is actually revenge; I renounce it.
I may choose not to shield someone
from an uncomfortable truth about them,
but I must do it with kindness, as if it were myself.
I may oppose someone,
or hold them accountable for their actions,
or let them endure unwelcome consequences,
but do so without malice or resentment.
I may stand up to an oppressor,
but do it with compassion.
My kindness may cause another anxiety,
but I will not be cruel to make someone happy.
If kindness to one creates suffering for another,
I seek to be kind also to the one who suffers.
If I seek to be kind but end up doing harm,
I am also kind to myself, bearing forgiveness.
The goal is not to be right but to be loving.
Life is complicated; kindness is not.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Here am I

             “Here am I; send me!”
                            —Isaiah 6.8

But where?
Help me discern clearly, God.
Neither to gallivant off in every direction
as if I’m supposed to heal every hurt;
nor to shrink back because the need is so great,
but to listen for where you are calling me,
and to go there.

To say ”Here am I,” must include all of me,
not just parts. What calls to the whole of me?
What seems most harmonious?
What neither dulls nor depletes me,
but (even if it scares me)
energizes and enlivens me?
Where do I sense your energy moving,
that I may move in harmony with it?
Not what I want,
but where your Spirit blows.

Breath prayer:
    Loving me … send me

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

Born again, from the top

             You must be born again.
                            —John 3.7

Right smack dab in the middle of an argument
Spirit grabs you, takes your breath away.
For a moment you’re speechless
(because sometimes the gift of the Spirit
is not tongues but silence)
and you’re born again, again, from the top.
You’re a newborn infant. You don’t know everything.
You don’t have to argue. You’re not trying to dominate;
you’re dependent, and trusting.
You don’t have an agenda, other than to be God’s beloved,
and to treat the other person as one, too.
You’re too tiny a baby to know where you’re going,
too new to be in charge: you must be led,
and not even by the Great Know-It-All in the Sky,
but by the wind of mercy, the breath of grace.
You are too innocent, and full of love, to argue.
All you want is to love and receive the love you’re given,
given by the Ceaselessly Loving One.
You don’t need to win the argument; you need to be held,
a newborn in the arms of God.
You want to listen.
You need to listen for the voice of grace.
Let the other person argue.
You need to begin to be alive even more than before.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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First wound

As an infant my first trauma
was the disappearance of Mother;
and still an infant in me
is desperate for that first connection,
wounded by its failure,
and fearful of the next.
How much of my work, my prayer,
my friendships, my flirting,
my shopping, my rage,
my taking command,
are tendrils of that vine,
the ache of that first wound
of wanting that holy oneness,
the deepest belonging,
and not knowing where to find it,
not trusting that She is right here?

She is right here.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Blow, wind

             The wind blows where it chooses,
             and you hear the sound of it,
             but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.
             So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

                            —John 3.8

Spirit, move me.
Wind of God, blow where you will.

Breeze of gentleness, lead me.
Zephyr of courage, sustain me.

Like strong trade winds, guide me
where you hope for me to go.

Like a dandelion seed, I rest on you,
without resisting, and you bear me.

I open myself to you, full sail,
lines taut, rigging singing in you.

Breath of God, you are moving.
Give me grace to discern,

to surrender,
and to sail.

Weather Report

as the Spirit moves among us all,
unseen but strong,
with possibility of microbursts;
though some are moved,
and some are not.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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So smart

When I start to think I’m so damn smart
I go out into the woods and sit

till I become as dumb as trees,
no wiser than the enduring grass,

no smarter than the sparrows and their nests,
the fox hiding where I cannot see,

as ignorant as the great migrating bird
who knows her way,

and the white-tailed deer that knows nothing,
nothing of cruelty or greed.

I become as simple as the clouds,
losing themselves continually.

Then I am ready to re-enter the human dance,
watching, learning, for the first time.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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God is fire

Perhaps, yes, God is a loving parent,
a brave and patient shepherd,
or a sovereign on a throne.
But also this: God is fire.
Having no shape, no stable form,
but only movement.
Being in no particular place,
but many at once.
Not existing above things, separate,
but only in the transformation of things,
the destroying-and-creating process
of elements interacting.
Lightning: not static, unchanging, immortal,
but only in the moment of its occurring,
in the movement of a charge through the world.
God is an energy, a transforming force,
a refining mystery, an event, a movement.
Too close, you are consumed;
too distant and you freeze.
Our images are of the light given off,
but not the actual changes occurring.
Looking, you see only what was a moment ago.
The Holy Spirit is the fire of the sun
converted by plants into the sugar
that fuels your body, the spark that ignites you.
God is ignition.
Be a struck match.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Pentecost blessing

May the mystery of the Holy Spirit dwell in you,
that you may hear the voice of grace
even in strange places and foreign tongues.

May the wind of the Holy Spirit move you
to cross boundaries and defy divisions
to love those who are different from you.

May the breath of the Holy Spirit breathe in you
to forgo all comfort and familiarity
to meet others where they are.

May the fountain of the Holy Spirit flow in you
with courage and humility to learn anew,
to be awkward and foolish for the sake of love.

May the fire of the Holy Spirit burn brightly in you,
that in all you do others may see in you
the warm light of the steady love of God.

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


             “The Advocate will come,
             whom I will send to you from Abba God,
             the spirit of truth.

                            —John 15.26

“Advocate.“ In Greek, paraclete.
One who comes alongside to assist.
God is not your judge or prosecutor,
but your defense attorney,
advocating for you.
On your side.
Against all those voices of accusation,
both yours and the world’s—
those untruths, that you’re not good enough,
that you have somehow failed or fallen short.
God will never be against you, only for you.
The Advocate will stay by your side
and remind you of the truth:
“You are my beloved.”

              When the Spirit of truth comes,
              they will guide you into all the truth.

                             —John 16.13

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

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