Thirty-nine years

We make our way along this way together,
our side-by-sideness a being,
so much of us in the other,
two voices in one harmony,
the going itself our path,
two ways twining, threaded in and out
of hopes and angers,
the bruise and heal become a song,
forgiveness a gravity, pains shared,
dreams carried in another's inner pocket,
selves emerging in the mirror of the other,
giving mutual birth.
The sound of a river.
Feeling was youth's energy,
the desert's spring flash flood;
now deeper currents sing.
Miraculous, though not uncommon,
how marvelous a tapestry is woven of two threads.
Approaching only now the middle age
of love, so much to learn,
looking back in gratitude fades
in the brightness of what may come.
Singing softly, sharing a smile, we walk on.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —June 7, 2019

Nothing can separate

         Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers,
         nor things present, nor things to come,
         nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
         nor anything else in all creation,
         will be able to separate us
         from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

                  —Romans 8.38-39

Nothing can separate you from the love of God.
         Not your sin, not your most horrible awfulness.
         Not your disbelief, or lack of faith.

Nothing can separate you from the love of God.
         Not your suffering, even if it feels deserved, which it is not.
         Not your jail cell, your cancer, your failure.

Nothing can separate you from the love of God.
         Not your anger at God when things stink.
         Not your questioning if God even exists at all.

Nothing can separate you from the love of God.
          Not your turning away when that love
          feels too hot, too confining, too challenging.

Nothing can separate you from the love of God.
         Not when you feel absolutely nothing of God,
         for God is not your feelings,
         which are feeble and fickle.

Nothing can separate you from the love of God.
         Not disaster, which is not God,
         or triumph, which is also not God.

Nothing can separate you from the love of God.
         You are in it like the air, like gravity.
         It is in you, for it is what you are made of.
         It's for you. On purpose. With delight.
Nothing can separate you from the love of God.
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —June 6, 2019

Pentecost flame

         Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them,
         and a tongue rested on each of them.

                  —Acts 2.3

Not little candles,
but furious furnaces,
volcanoes of love,
burning as in you right now,
every heartbeat God's arson of the soul,
each breath the Spirit's inner hurricane
afire with mercy,
a dynamo powerful enough
to blow you out into the world
and do miracles.
Trust this when you feel small and fragile,
the flaming sun within.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —June 5, 2019

Spoken to

Walking by the sea
you listen to the language of the waves,
you wish you knew what they were saying,
their foreign tongue,
sonorous, untranslated,
the sibilants so smoothly pronounced,
their vowels so nuanced,
priestly chants, blessings, perhaps,
and for you, for you.

Standing still in woods,
the wind in trees is a different dialect,
the accents in other places,
but prayers, you are sure,
of the same liturgy,
you want to pray the prayer.

Birdsong, unexpected, on a city street,
desert quiet, deep as sleep,
the tick of a patient clock,
the beat of your heart,
a voice without language
in the swaying of subway riders,
beloved, and what they mean,
voice without words that comes
and goes like prayer, like dreams.
The voice in the pure song of silence.

Sometimes, as with a kiss,
you needn’t know the words,
only that you are being spoken to.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

    —June 4, 2019

Morning prayer

you are the breathing
that breathed in me me through the night.
You are the darkness that held me in its secrets,
the dream that whispered in my unknowing,
disappearing into me like a breath.
You are the light that prepared yourself before me,
mother's arms that received me at my morning birth.
You are the sun that awakens me,
the dawn that rises in me, always rising.
You are the day that unfolds before me,
your becoming my welcome, your living my ground,
your grace my one hope for this day.
Morning God, the world opens its eye
and I wake to you, given, and new.
May I wake to you all this holy day
and be your light unfolding.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —June 3, 2019

Breath by breath

         We have been buried with Christ by baptism into death,
         so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of God,
         so we too might walk in newness of life.

                  —Romans 6.4

God, take, me, all of me.
Let the “me” to which I've been clinging die.
Bury me in your love,
six feet under in your grace.
Your living heart be my grave.
All my schemes and beliefs,
my triumphs and failures, all gone.
All my powers ended,
my powerlessness a nothing.

Then in the darkness, the silence,
let there be light.
Let a new Creation arise,
and let it be me.
Let me be something you are creating,
moment by moment,
by your Word alone,
breathing your Spirit breath by breath,

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

—May 30, 2019

Above all rule

         God raised Christ from the dead
         and seated Christ at God's right hand in the heavenly places,
         far above all rule and authority and power and dominion.

                  —Ephesians 1.20-21

Think Higher Power... then go higher than that.
Imagine the embodiment of God's love,
the divine Presence, God's intimacy,
as the absolute fundament of Creation.
The love that begets you, that walks with you,
the tenderness that feels your wounds and dries your tears,
the noble courage that sees the magnificent in you,
the beauty that unfolds in you as in lilacs and galaxies,
that love that will die for you, and does, over and over,
that love—as the most powerful thing in the universe.
Imagine all our little tragedies gathered up
into those gentle, immense arms,
every sin and every triumph blessed,
every child and every tyrant held
in those tender, wounded hands.
The All of everything, the Is of the universe,
the One of infinite belovedness,
Christ, your Heavenly Lover,
above all and including all
and redeeming all of it. All of it.
Offer wonder, praise and trust.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —May 30, Ascension Day, 2019


         He withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.
—Luke 24.51

How dare he?
Just up and leave?
How hard to admit:
Christ is not ours.
There is an else-ness to them,
a beyondness we can't comprehend.
The Anointed One belongs to something greater,
and is not ours.
For a time they have made themselves
as small as he could,
but now we see how infinite the Beloved is.
And if we have listened to what he said
while he walked among us so we could hear,
we would see this in every soul,
for none is apart from this whole.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

—May 29, 2019


         I ask ...that they may all be one.
         As you, Father, are in me and I am in you,
         may they also be in us...

                  —John 17.20, 21

We are one.
It is not our choice.
Our unity is not opinion
or willingness to get along.
It is God's doing, not ours.
There is only one thing,
one Creation, one humanity,
and we are all part of it.
We are all members of one body,
all fingers of the same hand,
like it or not.
Our choice is to honor or dishonor
people who are part of ourselves.
We needn't worship together,
vote alike, agree or strive in parallel;
we may oppose each other.
But we do so as equals, as one,
joined in the flesh of creation,
in the oneness of Spirit.
Even members of the Holy Trinity
may see things differently.
We are in Christ, by God's will,
and haven't the power to be otherwise.
We are One.
May we live as one.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —May 28, 2019

In Memoriam

Today I give thanks for all those
who have nonviolently given their lives
for the sake of peace,
who have suffered and sacrificed and even died
for the sake of justice and healing.
I give thanks for those who suffered
for the underground railroad,
for the cause of unions, for women’s suffrage, in the civil rights movement,
In antiwar and environmental work.
For those who have sacrificed, suffered and died
without weapons in their hands
I give thanks, and honor their service.
And I pray that we all may emulate their courage, 
their vision and their hearts of peace, 
and give ourselves in the cause of justice. 
May God bless not only the great sacrifices 
but every Little step we take 
for the sake of the mending of the world. 

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

— May 27, 2019

Small stones

There are times, beholding the wounds of the world,
we feel inadequate. We haven't dome enough.
Yes, there are those who give their blood on the ramparts,
who are tireless in their work for justice and healing.
It is only together that we are they.
Remember you are not asked to save the world,
or even a single creature.
You are asked to listen,
to hear what you are called to do,
great or small,
and to do that.

In the stone wall I walk past every morning
there are small stones
that hold the great ones in place.

In the chorus you only sing one part
but when you change your note
you change the whole chord.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

      —May 24, 2019

Do you want to be healed?

         When Jesus saw him lying there
         and knew that he had been there a long time,
         he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

                  —John 5.6

Oh, God, so many things I pray for
I don't really want.
I pretend I'm fine.

Help me to want your will.
Help me to want to be healed.
I renounce my excuses, all of them.

Loosen my grip on what I cling to.
Heal my fear of being changed,
and what that would look like.
Remove the shortcomings
I have grown to rely on.
Give me grace to surrender,
to allow.

God, do not listen to my loudest voice
but the quiet one
that will turn my will over to you.

Yes. I want to be made well.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —May 23, 2019

Poured into our hearts

         Suffering produces endurance,
         and endurance produces character,
         and character produces hope,
         and hope does not disappoint us,
         because God’s love has been poured into our hearts
         through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

                  —Romans 5.3-5

Poured in,
not a trickle or a little cupful, but a deep river,
a Niagara Falls of love, an Amazon of grace,
swirling with unseen currents, eddies whirling,
curling about the stones and banks of our hearts,
Jordan of promise, Red Sea of freedom,
deep enough for Jonah's whale,
pouring into our hearts, meeting every space,
taking the shape of our hearts, welling up
with the living water of the well at Sychar,
Jesus and the woman dipping deeply,
this love that bears us through all suffering,
for “when you pass through the waters
I will be with you,” still pouring,
even the suffering with the love in it;
and our only life purpose is to drink,
to let the love pour in and soak us, overflow
and spill out in every possible way,
because this is what the Spirit is doing in us,
thirsty for God, the holy emptiness that keeps filling
like a river emptying and becoming itself
in love, the pouring of it unending.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —May 22, 2019

In the beginning

         In the beginning
         when God created the heavens and the earth,
         the earth was a formless void
         and darkness covered the face of the deep,
         while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

                        —Genesis 1.1-2

In darkness and chaos
         God breathes over the water,
                  Creation awaits.

In the void, the emptiness,
         there is space
                  for the new.

Over the face of the deep
         is the holy silence
                  in which the One will speak.


Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —May 20, 2019

Steamy love letter

As you read the words
their ardent passion makes you blush.
Something in you rises and dances.

Across the room
your lover looks at you
with those liquid eyes.

Read just enough to feel hot,
then put the Bible down
and go over there.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —May 17, 2019

The path of faith

         This is how they will know you are my disciples,
         if you love each other.
— John 13.35

The path of faith
is not just to believe in God
but to live as if you do:
to love the loveless; to pour yourself out as light;
to forgive fearlessly; to listen deeply;
to be humble, knowing you are held
in the highest regard in the halls of heaven,
to give exceedingly, knowing you receive more;
to feed the hungry, remembering your hunger;
to act for justice boldly, having been been set free.
It is to trust God in the awfullest times,
and to see God even in the worst of yourself.
It is to see God and to seek God in the plainest things,
the beautiful and the hard, the welcome and the strange.
It is to move out of your little circle of light
knowing when you step into the darkness
the light will come with you.
It is to love without judgment or exception,
knowing that is how you are loved.
The path of faith is not just to believe in God
but to reach out to what you believe to be God.
It is to entrust yourself to the One who believes in you,
and who loves the whole world,
and to become that One, who is already one with you.
The path of faith is to become the love God has for you
which is for all the world.
May it be so.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —May 16, 2019

As you have loved me

         I give you a new commandment,
         that you love one another.
         Just as I have loved you,
         you also should love one another.

                           —John 13.34

Jesus, you set the bar high:
not merely “as yourself,”
for you have loved me better than I love myself:
as you have cherished and honored me,
accompanied me, borne my burdens,
delighted in me, forgiven me,
walked the path before me,
poured your whole self into me,
seen the divine possibility
and the divine actual in me.
“Come to me,” you have said,
“take my yoke upon you,”
and the light of your burden
is love.
For that infinite, intimate love,
unknowable, unstoppable,
I thank you.

Christ, love
in me
that I may love others
as you have loved me.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

May 15, 2019

The home of God among mortals

What we call “Heaven” is not the afterlife, not a gated community in the clouds for good people. Heaven is not later but now, not “up,” but in. Heaven is not elsewhere but really, radically here, here and now. “Heaven” is our sort of elegant word for the heart of God, the Divine Presence that gives rise to all existence, the essence of being that is love that throbs within every created thing. Heaven is the mystery of God dwelling within us. Heaven is the love that is the Truth of It of everything. It is the Divine Unity, the Holy One that is all. Yeah, it's a mouthful, and a mind-bender. That's why we shorten it to “heaven.”

Jesus calls it the Empire of God. He says this Divine Reality is all around us and within us, “at hand” and “among you.” It's the energy of God in every thing, every moment, every process. And it's pure love. Jesus invites us to be in harmony with that energy, to “enter into the kingdom.”

That love, that healing oneness, that life-giving grace, is present for us, available to us all the time. Even in our worst moments and our narrowest passages it is here: Love within us and we within it. God offers it to us without cost or requirement. All we have to to is be there.

Of course when we get caught up in the anxieties and sufferings of this world such a splendid heaven seems far away. But that's exactly when Jesus says the garden is most present, the gate open widest. It's on the cross, after all, when he says, “Today you shall be with me in paradise.”

Bring to mind your anxieties and sufferings, or those of ones you care about. Imagine God is offering God's healing, life-giving Presence, God's unifying grace, right in the middle of that awfulness. Not promising that after you die it'll get better, but that there's another reality right here. With that in mind, meditate on these words from John's Revelation (Rev. 21.1-6). Read them over and over. Haul your pain into this blessing. Stay there and see what happens.

         See, the home of God is among mortals.
         God will dwell with them as their God; they will be God's peoples,
         and God will be intimately with them.
         God will wipe every tear from their eyes.
         Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
         for the first things have passed away.
        And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.
         I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
         To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.”

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —May 14, 2019

A postcard from God


I love being here. The light is so different.
I think it's that everyone is in it.
You know? When you come out into the light
it changes the light. Makes it so beautiful.
The water's nice, too.
Thinking of you.
So brilliant of me to have snuck you in my luggage!

Love, God

Weather Report

often heavy,
with flooding in many areas
as the lightfall overtops
the levees of our flesh.
Expect periods of darkness,
also luminous.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —May 13, 2019