Deepen my yearning


Recently some stuff of ours got destroyed.
I'm discovering the innards of grief..
We were planning on giving the stuff away,
so it's not the stuff I mourn, though it was valuable.
It's what I'm discovering I need to let go of.
Attachment to what could have been let it go.
Blame of those who destroyed it let it go.
Shock at discovering a dark side of someone I trusted let it go.
Anger at the powerlessness of badly wanting something back
I can't get back.
Promising myself to stop rehearsing outrage... but I do.
Dashed wasted... feeling violated...let it all go.
How many ways desire clings,
how many little pieces there are to letting go.


As I wrestle with this small angel
I'm mindful of those who have lost more than things:
houses crushed in storms, loved ones dead, war's terror,
villages destroyed, horrors fled, never to return,
black bodies threatened, lives trafficked, children enslaved,
queer souls on the front porch of hell.
It's not that I should stop caring about our stuff,
but let it be a door to care for greater things.

So I pray: God, enlarge my grief.
Don't remove my petty objection;
embed it in your yearning for justice.
Let me mourn more greatly. Change my desires.
Deepen my yearning into empathy and generosity and hope
and the willingness to lose that is love.


Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

June 17, 2019

Sixty-six rings

Time does not pass; the present
holds steady, and we pass through it.
We do not spend our days; we accrue them.
Our lives are not linear, like a string,
but cumulative, like rings of a tree.

All the memories,
the choices and the unchosen,
feasts and wounds, dry years and wet,
are the rings that make up the tree.

The little boy alone on the hillside is still in there,
the man weeping on the floor, the man bowing,
the eve of one day and the day after,
all I have received and given,

all of it is God growing in me,
none of it would I cut away,
each gift and loss, each success and failure
another ring

as today I give thanks and count one more
that firms me and forms me as I stand
in this moment
and hold new leaves up to the sun.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

―June 14, 2019


God, you who listen 
so completely and so well,
help me listen today,
listen slowly and openly. 
Help me hear your voice in the silence, 
hear the hear the whisper of grace unfolding,                     
hear your Spirit moving in its dance                       
that does not disturb its deep silence.

Beneath the roar and chatter may I hear you. 
May I speak in a way that does not disturb my hearing.
Speak, Holy One, for your servant is listening. 

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

— June 13, 2019

The rest of what he didn't say

What more did Jesus say
than what we have recorded?
Surely in months of speaking
there were more parables, sayings, teachings?
What more did he say?

Maybe nothing.
Maybe the truth was pure enough,
and his faith,
that he honored it
with pages and pages
of perfect silence.

The Gospels are gracious
to give us no more words,
no explanations
as if multiple words could do
for the singular Word:
only the perfect silence
in which he still sits
with us.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —June 11, 2019


The sound of a single chickadee.
The silence afterwards.
The taste of salt.
The incompleteness of my love
for one in whom is my twisted angel,
wrestling me toward gentleness.
Looking at a meadow
longing for my body
to become the grass.
Prayers that nearly form
then move on like clouds.

The clouds.

Everything feeds the fire
of my hunger for you.

I warm myself
by the flames.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —June 10, 2019

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