Postcard from God


Know what I saw today? Ice sleeves on black branches. A kid banging her bag against her knees at a school bus stop. A little desert lizard. A volcano murmuring in its sleep. A heap of bricks in Gaza, some color on them. Birds in a small garden. Women weeping. Stars above dark, dark earth. Don’t regret where you are, or the places you seek. I’m there, too.


Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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           And the unclean spirit,
           convulsing him and crying with a loud voice,
           came out of him.

                         —Mark 1.26

Demons don’t leave easily.
Power tightens its grip.
There are recriminations. Harsh words.
Withdrawal symptoms.

Letting go of old habits,
slipping torturous comforts,
shedding false assurances, inner bullies—
they drag their hooks on the way out.

Sometimes doubt and tension,
resistance, even a little ripping,
might be what it feels like
being torn up out of the grave.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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         There was a man with an unclean spirit,
         who cried out, “What have you to do with us,
         Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?”
              —Mark 1. 23-24

Well, yes, Jesus has come not just to heal one man,
but to sabotage the very structure of evil.
And in particular to do away with the lie
of uncleanness.

Some things I’ve done, some things others have done to me,
make me feel dirty. Somehow unpresentable to God.
Jesus will have none of it.
It’s something about my past, not who I am.

I want to think of myself
on some scale of acceptability to God,
a little unclean, part of me troublingly unpresentable,
but cleaner than many.

Jesus will have none of it.
God welcomes all of us, dirt and all.
The crud on us, that both we and others have put there,
is not who we are. It’s just mud on the jewel.

Jesus, I know who you are, the holy one of God.
Cast out the spirit of uncleanness.
Help me see the shining gem in me and everyone:
beneath the shame, the wonder.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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The brook slides through icy woods.
Snow crawls up to the edges
to peer over, doesn’t fall in.
Rocks hunch under little glass hoods.
Branches hang into the water
wearing hoops skirts of ice.
The water snakes between rocks,
under ice fans, over little falls.
It has come from somewhere,
goes somewhere,
but now
it is here, inviting me to be here,
just here.

What has happened, accepted.
What is, released.
What shall be, allowed.

One ice crystal,
steady above the water,
its little fingers
pointing at everything.

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


           He taught them as one having authority.
                         —Mark 1.22

You’ve seen the magic tricks,
maybe a few special effects
in an extravagant worship service.
You’ve seen some preachers get rich,
some doctrines take the throne.

Your senses are titillated,
your appetites aroused,
but your heart is unconvinced.

Only real love speaks with authority,
heartfelt care for others
as companions in the cell of life.
Kindness trumps everything,
and your heart knows it.

Trust that.
Even in the face of menacing neighbors
and cruel magistrates,
in the balances of the cosmos,
nothing outweighs kindness.

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

The call to stay

           “Follow me.”

Sometimes the call is to stay.
Not to head off on some new adventure
but to work through where you’re at,
to make peace, to mend a relationship,
to endure a struggle, to fulfill faithfulness,.
Sometimes Jesus needs you most crucially
right where you are, to be his vessel
in exactly what you’re doing, with new love,
to accompany him where you always go,
to do the same old thing with new light,
to bear grace, even at home.

May the Steady One be with you,
sustain you in your work,
companion you in your challenges,
and grant you strength, wisdom, perseverance,
love, beauty and courage.

If you are in Christ
then where you are is holy ground.
God bless you deeply,
and increase your delight.

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

Without a net

           Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”
           And immediately they left their nets
           and followed him.

                                               —Mark 1.17-18

Jesus, Quiet One,
your call is not just the seashore challenge
to change my vocation.
You call every moment,
every conversation, every choice.
You whisper gently,
“Here. Come with me. This way.”

Am I radically open to your nudging,
ready to go an unexpected way?
What entangling nets must I let go of,
what habits and comforts must I leave behind,
what familiar safety net must I forgo,
what that I thought I knew
will I have to cease to know?

What nets have me?
Here, now, Beloved, draw me out. Set me free.

Working without a net.
Just your presence, your quiet, your love.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Fish for people

         “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”
                    —Mark 1.17

I don’t think he meant for us to catch them,
haul them into our boat with some evangelistic net,
capture & manipulate them.

I think he meant to change our focus
from fish to people.
Fishers know where the fish are and go there;
they learn to think like fish; they value fish.
Their lives are centered around fish.

Become attentive to people, Jesus meant,
go where they are,
let their beauty flash before you.
Center your life around them and their well-being.

He might have said to Matthew,
pay attention to the details of people like you do to taxes.
Or to an auto mechanic, that’s great,
now can you do that for people?

What do you know a lot about?
Imagine becoming that adept
with souls, with relationships,
with how we live together.
Follow Jesus, and you can become
an investment banker of souls,

a painter of people, a gardener of society.
Just follow, and you’ll discover what it means.

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

Follow me

           Jesus came to Galilee,
           proclaiming the good news of God, and saying,
           “The time is fulfilled,
           and the empire of God has come near;
           repent, and believe in the good news.”

                         —Mark 1.14-15

The Realm of God is the reality of God’s rule,
God’s desire for fullness of life for all living beings,
God’s realm of infinite grace:
fundamental, unconditional, and open to everyone.
God’s Empire is absolute. Grace is as non-negotiable as gravity.
The Empire of God
directly opposes the Roman Empire and all empires.

To repent is to renounce our loyalty to other empires,
to stop cooperating with systems
that pretend to regulate God’s grace,
that claim blessing for some and not others.

To believe the good news
is to shuck off our blinders of fear and shame,
to shed the sword and shield of having to be good enough,
and, empty-handed, trust the grace given us.

Everything Jesus did, every word and deed,
was to connect people with God’s life-giving grace,
to heal the wounds of separation,
and to undermine systems of exclusion.

When Jesus says “Follow me”
he means to do this.

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

The arc bends

           “The arc of the moral universe is long,
           but it bends toward justice.”

                         —Martin Luther King, Jr.

We aren’t discouraged by how long it is.
We only do our part.

The trick is to keep our eyes on the arc,
not the rest.

Our hope is not confidence in our strength,
nor wishing for good outcomes,

but trusting in the unseen power of the universe
to right itself.

Even through dark clouds of fear,
the rainbow is steady with its arc.

Follow that, not the clouds.

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

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