What it's like

I said,
God, you don't know what it's like to be human.
You aren't limited by forces you can't overcome
but always have to watch out for.
You don't have to dance with mortality,
never have to navigate vulnerability,
never even have to think about gravity.
You don't know what it's like to have to try so hard.
The danger. The impossibility. The not quite belonging.
don't know what it's like
to not even have to know what it's like.

God said,
Stay with that.
Maybe now
you know something

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

August 13, 2019


 “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth?
         No, I tell you, but rather division!”

                  —Luke 12.51

Not us-versus-them. Not good people on one side
and everybody else on the other. Not you against neighbors.

But you, distinct from what others want of you.
You, not what will please them.

The real you, true and unmodified,
standing for what you know and care for,

regardless of how others balk and resist and criticize
and cajole and manipulate and persecute and crucify.

Beware: those whose hearts are unwhole
will try to draw you in to complete them;

but you cannot be them for them. This is the great division.
You must be yourself, and let their incompleteness go,

without ceasing to love them. Let them press against you
even as you stand for them.

Jesus prays for strength for you to stand as self,
to stand without pleasing, without apologizing.

Stand with hope and trust, though you be alone—
for, standing alone, you find your true companions,

bound not by opinion but by the Whole, What Is,
given, not made, the Body of Christ.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

August 12, 2019


         We are strangers and foreigners on the earth...
         seeking a homeland... a better country...

                  —Hebrews 11.13, 14, 16

Tongues corrupt and tangled,
lungs not made for this air,
we know it feels wrong.

Language of white supremacy,
habits of greed and violence,
our own tribe is betrayal.

How dare those foreigners
show us the map of our lostness.
Immigrants in our own house.

Pilgrim, marry your longing.
This world you were meant to change.
That heaven you seek is in the wrong people.

Find them, your other home there.
Seek that heaven, and bring your children,
all of us.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

August 9, 2019


         Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit
                  —Luke 12.35

God is not sitting idly by
         watching our self-destruction.

God is at work in every moment,
the same dance of electrons
and embrace of gravity
vibrating with love,
creating and creating,
grace in the very being of it.

In every moment
God is mending what is
from the depths of what is.

Tragic or magic, momentous or mundane,
every moment is a choice
to join in harmony
or sit idly by.
Be ready.

The light of the lamp
of your heart, lit,
enlightens the world
and guides us in this darkness.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

August 8, 2019


         Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
                           —Luke 12.34

Wherever your love is,
         there will be your will.

You pass by a lilac, and its scent allures you;
         you want it, and so you turn aside to smell it.

If you love it you will seek it.
         The more you love, the more might with which you seek.

Friends, learn to see the Beloved
         in everything, every person.

Let her beguile you,
         and without trying you will turn aside and do justice.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

August 7, 2019


This is the day, August 6th,
when history reminds us
the terrorism, the barbarism we're capable of:
destroying an entire city full of innocent civilians
just to frighten a leader or two.

Lest there be any question,
three days later we'll do it again.
Not military targets, just shocking.
Pure terrorism.
We'll justify it,
wrap it in strategy and politics and patriotism,
as if we had no other choice—
but hundreds of thousands will die,
and more will suffer, for a generation,
a generation.

It's how we do things.
We firebombed Tokyo in the night of March 9,
killed 100,00, destroyed 16 square miles of city,
and left a million homeless.

We did that to 67 Japanese cities.
Civilian deaths. Sixty-seven entire cities.

We are a great people.
And this, also, is who we are.
We will never escape our own violence
until we confess it.
We will never attain true greatness
without true honesty.

Let this be a day of confession, mourning and humility,
and a day of compassion.
Let us begin to be people of peace.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

August 6, 2019


         Strive first for the wholeness of Creation,
         and these things will be given to you as well.
         Do not be afraid, little flock,
         for it is the Beloved's good pleasure to give you the whole realm.

                  —Luke 12.31-32

You strive for it
         yet it is pure gift.

You long for it
         yet you already have it.

You want to know your place in it,
         but it is all yours.

It's easy to forget
         but it's the most important thing.

You know you need it
         but even more you need to trust

it is given to you,
         all of it, gladly,
everything you need.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

August 5, 2019


A meadow, a small crowd of trees
marching over the hillside
over a million years pauses for me here
and I'm so grateful.

God I thank you for every thing,
for the whole of it, not partial,
good and ill,
for the bird that ate my snack, thank you,
the morning walk and the poop stepped in,
for grace that hauled me from deepest pit,
sunlight on a pitcher handle, thank you,
for sickness— the body to be sick—
and recovery, always trailing death,
the small yellow stone happy on a city street,
always your mystery in it,
mountains leaping up can't contain it.

Humility tackles me. Wonder erupts.
Thankfulness tangles my words.

I give you thanks,
my life:
may every thought word and deed be thanks,
and after I die
linger in the air.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

August 2, 2019

I forget you

I forget you
utterly, completely.
I forget you with my whole self.
I forget you with my hands,
reaching for not you,
grasping something always else.
With my breath I forget you,
air passing out of me, never returning.
I forget you with my feet,
walking up stones,
not touching earth,
you are forgotten.
I forget you with my eyes,
seeing otherwise,
not even the shape of you,
the space in the air that isn't you,
not what casts the shadow, not the shadow
but only the shape
I forget.
I forget you with my butt,
sitting where I please, not minding.
I forget you with everything I have
when I can manage it.
I forget you on the tip of my tongue
and at the back of my mind
how can I possibly
forget you?

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

August 1, 2019

Bigger barns

          The farmer thought, “I will pull down my barns
          and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods....”
          But God said, “This very night your life is being demanded of you.
          And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”

                  —Luke 12.18, 20

I'm always building bigger barns
to hold resentments,
what I'm sure people owe me,
storehouses of The Way I Want Things To Go,
reputation and pictures of myself—
oh, several silos of those pictures—
and barns, huge barns, of How I Like It,
my securities and assurances.
All built of wax.

But then:
my life is on fire,
all of it, house and barns, going up,
and I have 30 seconds to get out.
What would I grab?

My integrity? My wife? Those pictures?
My sense of humor? My mind?
Yeah, my mind. Or what about my soul?
Of course. My soul.

… Wait...
I'd grab you, God.
Grab you and run.

          If you have been raised with Christ
          seek the things that are above...

                   — Colossians 3.1

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 31, 2019

Angel of death

You are an angel of death
to everything you eat,

to every insult you swallow
and it lives no more,

to every bit of meanness
you receive and destroy,

an angel of death
to loneliness and despair,

you, the living end
of unloveliness,

an angel of death
to the Emperor of Cynicism.

In your very being
you are an end to them.

You consume them,
turning them into life.

You remove them from this world,
you usher them into the new Being.

What more could the angel of death
do for you?

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 30, 2019

The explorer

The explorer traversed oceans
and passed through many wonders and dangers
until he finally found the temple he was seeking,
and stood before the mighty gates.
Then he went home.
Everything after that was a letdown.

He never realized how vast the temple is.
I wonder how many million gates he passed by
on his way, and on his way home.

Even now, look up. There it is.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 29, 2019

One thing

         Martha, Martha… there is need of only one thing.
                  —Luke 10.42

No matter what you do
what you have done is what
you ended up doing.
Where you are is where
you ended up being.

Only one thing is needed:
to be here,
in this moment,
present, attentive and willing.

Forget your multitasking.
It's just swatting flies.
They'll never go away.
No, practice mono-tasking:
do one thing at a time,
this thing you're doing,
deeply, wholly,
fully open and loving,

Be here. Do that.

Weather Report

and not what you wish or imagine,
here, not elsewhere.
Life is this, not something else.
Pay attention.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 19, 2019


         You are worried and distracted by many things.
                  —Luke 10.41

Sometimes you are distracted
by your prayers,
your desires pulling so many ways
like chores, the must, the ought,
the please oh please,
the wouldn't it be better if.

Forget your prayers
and pay attention to the Beloved,
sit without purpose,
simply gaze,
and be without excuse

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 18, 2019


Dawn enters
not shy,
just discreet,
then swelling,
light rising,
even on a cloudy morning
bearing an alreadiness
I covet.

She bends to me,


this rising is in you.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 17, 2019

All things hold together

         Christ is before all things,
         and in Christ all things hold together.

                  —Colossians 1.17

The holy urge that birthed us
is the energy of wholeness,
self-flowing of love,
desire for the well-being of all Creation.

Christ is the body of this love,
of which you, and all Creation, are part.
Everything holds together
in this divine longing.

This love contains everything,
even what is cruel and senseless.
Don't let evil convince you of anything.
Stay mindful of the sacred wholeness.

Let yourself be gathered up in its light.
Even in chaos and darkness,
you walk with the Beloved.
That's what it means every time the sun rises.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 16 , 2019

Sit and listen

         Mary sat at his feet and listened to what he was saying.
                  —Luke 10.39

If this were an apple tree,
pruning past, harvest yet to come,
you would sit under it,

notice the shade, the bees, sunlight
mingling through, the tiny fruits
drinking their futures,

the leaves extending blessing,
sheltering, offering, present, needing
no excuses. You would learn from them.

But this is not an apple tree. What, then?
Find the place that invites listening.
Be there, and sit.

The Beloved asks no more
than that you sit near,
wherever you are.

At the feet of the world,
the world comes to you
like bees.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 15, 2019

Parallel universe

         ...transferred into the realm of the Beloved ...
                        —Colossians 1.13

Learn to see through this world,
this flimsy illusion of debt and deserving
with its tacky wallpaper, pretentious riches,
flickering distractions, emblems of power.

Grow eyes to see instead
the world gleaming inside this one,
whose only laws are love and grace,
whose beauty flares out like laughter.

Your authority, your authentic self
lives there, royal, belonging.
You bring that whole place with you.
You can't hide your divine accent.

It is here closer than the mirror, and yet
the emperors of this world
can't invade, can't besiege, can't plunder it.
They can't even see it.

Yes, the Beloved lives in a parallel universe,
and dwells here with you,
and every dance with you reminds you,
somehow, of home.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 12, 2019

Power of darkness

         God has rescued us from the power of darkness
         and transferred us into the Realm of the Beloved...

                  —Colossians 1.13

It's not darkness we're saved from—
darkness being the place of Creation,
         the thick, full mystery—

but our envy of dullness,
visionless, without revealing,
         negation's temptation, a blank,

smoke from no fire that curls and obscures,
dusk of trust that passes for thought,
         a closing of eyes.

In the dark alley we fear not the dark
but what may lurk there,
         its unclarity of intent.

In the valley of the shadow of death
we fear not the shadow, but the death,
         not the pall but the limit beneath it.

But we are brought into your realm of light,
where darkness is not lack
         but a different kind of shining.
Everything reveals. Even the shadows teach.
In the night we don't suddenly see,
         but feel your warmth beside us.

In everything a dawn, redolent with possibility,
unsettled, unfolding,
          and we, within it, radiating.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 11, 2019

Plumb line

See, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel...
                  —Amos 7.8     

A plumb line held straight
by the gravity of love,
without curve or spin of human twist,
plumb line of blessing
unbowed by curse,
unbent by fear or greed,
plumb line seeking, unerring, the center,
all creatures' belovedness and belonging,
the wellbeing of all Creation.

Measure your acts, O human,
judge your policies, O Nation,
by this and no other.
Does it bless without cursing?
Does it serve without stealing?
Does it join and not divide?
This alone is justice.

God's plumb line
will not slide sideways
to favor some over others,
but loves all dearly;
it will not sway to sacrifice one's thriving
for another's desires.

The ground is uneven but the line is set.
The corrupt tilt their heads;
the wise discern
and build accordingly.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 10, 2019