A Poem/Prayer by Sarah Are
I want to practice being free.
I want to unstitch my heart
From the edge of my sleeve
So that I can give it a life of its own—
A real chance to love and be known.
I want to practice opening
My mind, my doors, and window panes,
Anything with a hinge, everything with a frame,
Until the breeze carries through—
A new point of reference, truth, and you.
I want to practice a holy escape,
Losing track of my minutes that turn into days
Because the only time that matters now
Is time with you and this golden hour.
I want to practice release,
Removing the stones that weigh down my wings—
Stones of fear, shame, and grief,
Stones that build walls between you and me.
I want to do all of these things—
Be untamed and wild, open and free,
The first to give and the last to hold tight,
Because gratitude and clenched fists never felt right.
And I am just starting to see
That this life is a river, a holy stream.
And if life is a river then God is the sky,
Touching everything at once and inviting us to try
Letting go of the raft, to float on our backs,
So that we and God can be eye to eye—
A lifetime of baptism and nothing but sky.
But first, you have to release.
by Sarah Are | A Sanctified Art LLC | sanctifiedart.org
A reading from Deuteronomy
Every seventh year you shall grant a remission of debts. And this is the manner of the remission: every creditor shall remit the claim that is held against a neighbor, not exacting it from a neighbor who is a member of the community, because the Lord’s remission has been proclaimed. From a foreigner you may exact it, but you must remit your claim on whatever any member of your community owes you. There will, however, be no one in need among you, because the Lord is sure to bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you as a possession to occupy, if only you will obey the Lord your God by diligently observing this entire commandment that I command you today. When the Lord your God has blessed you, as he promised you, you will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow; you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you.
If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted towards your needy neighbor. You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be. Be careful that you do not entertain a mean thought, thinking, ‘The seventh year, the year of remission, is near’, and therefore view your needy neighbor with hostility and give nothing; your neighbor might cry to the Lord against you, and you would incur guilt. Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.’
A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew
Then someone came to him and said, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He said to him, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘I have kept all these; what do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Digital painting by Lisle Gwynn Garrity
inspired by Deuteronomy 15:1-11 (The year of canceled debts)
The Israelites wandered the desert for forty years. Forty years was just long enough for them to let go of what they used to know, to doubt their purpose, to question God’s presence, to cultivate resilience. But it was not long enough for the sting of slavery to recede from their bones. It was not long enough for them to forget the way greed can corrupt the hearts of the powerful, the way economic disparity can bleed into overt racism, the way empire can be built on the backs of forced laborers. And so, near the end of their wilderness chapter, God guides Moses to help them release the harmful systems of their past to reimagine a new way of doing life together.
These instructions in Deuteronomy become a guide for their new economy. The scheduled practice of releasing debts every seven years was designed to be both preventive and restorative. It prevented the wealth gap from growing beyond repair. It prevented systemic poverty from becoming strategic enslavement. It softened hearts turned cold and loosened fists clenched too tight. This practice of release reminds us that net worth is not synonymous with self-worth. It cuts into greed and bondage wherever it has taken root.
How might we adopt practices of financial release in our current economy? When it comes to money, we are hard-wired to fixate on deserving. What did you do to cause this debt? What qualifies you to deserve a forgiveness loan? How did you earn this income?
And yet, in God’s story, money—like grace—is released wherever it is needed instead of where it is deserved.
— lisle gwynn garrity