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

Washed in the blood

         These are they who have come out of the great ordeal;
         they have washed their robes and made them white
         in the blood of the Lamb.

                  —Revelation 7.14

Birthed through the great ordeal, all of us
are bathed in the life flowing through the Beloved's veins,
washed clean in the love of pure self-giving,

all of us alike rinsed of our private pains,
our dignifying stains, bleached of excuse
that would set one apart from another.

Our forgiveness has cost so much pain,
and we have received and imposed so much,
no one wants any more hurt. We choose mercy.

We've too much grief to keen for any more blood
on these spotless robes. Dead to ordeal, raised to rest,
all of us washed as newborns, swaddled in white,

are at peace together
in the arms
of the Peace of Christ.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —May 10, 2019

Fundamental force

Love is the fundamental force of the universe.
The big bang that everything comes from,
the gravity that holds it all together,
the basic process at work
within every thing and every moment
is the grace of God,
love making all things one and whole and holy.
It is vast, containing every galaxy,
yet intimately present in our minds and our bodies.
Like particle physics, like microbiology,
this process of wholeness becoming whole,
of love unfolding throughout Creation,
is going on all the time
whether we recognize it or not.
The invitation is to recognize it,
to trust it, to live in harmony with it all the time.
The voice of the shepherd is the voice of that grace.
It is miraculous power we tap into
when we heal, when we bless, when we love.
Surely we fail often,
but within and beyond our little wars and atrocities
the infinite grace of the Loving One
unfolds continually, dwarfing all our evil.
Root yourself in this Peace, breathe its grace,
and live with its energy.
         The Realm of God is near at hand.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —May 9, 2019

Psalm 23 meditation

Shepherd me, God;
          help me follow.

All I need is given;
          help me trust, receive and be grateful.

You lead me to rest and restoration;
          give me faith to drink deeply, to lie down.

You lead me on a path with heart;
          help me follow, for your sake.

Even through the darkest valley
          give me courage to trust and follow.

You are with me, your presence comforting
          in all my difficulties. Help me trust

You prepare a feast for me despite my fears.
          You invite me to be at peace with my enemies.

You shower me with blessing;
          bathe me in gratitude.

Your goodness and mercy stick to me;
          help me trust I am in you always. Always.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —May 8, 2019

Follow the voice

         My sheep hear my voice.
         I know them, and they follow me.

                  —John 10.27

Follow the voice that knows you.
Ignore the voices of expectation,
that try to fit you to their liking.

The Beloved doesn't demand
but accompanies, shares your burden,
leads you to green pastures, restores your soul.

The Beloved walks with you
even through darkest valleys
toward richer love, deeper life.

Ignore the voices of despair or fear,
voices of blame or bitterness,
that can only defend you by hurting others.

Follow the voice that draws you
more clearly to who you are created to be,
the voice that is life-giving.

Follow the voice that invites you in,
that honors you despite your enemies,
that offers goodness and mercy.

Stop and listen. Be silent and listen
in long stillness. Wait with all the voices
for the One who stays with you. Sit with it.

And then follow.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —May 7, 2019

What matters (and what doesn't)

         Since you have been raised with Christ,
         seek the things that are above, where Christ is,
         seated at the right hand of God.
         Set your minds at a higher level, on essential things,
         not on meaningless details.

                  —Colossians 3.1-2

God, help me discern what matters and what does not.
What helps me trust you and serve the world,
what helps me honor who you create me to be—
and what does not?
Help me let go of fears and desires and meaningless opinion,
judgments of the way things ought to be,
other people's ideas about me.
They don't matter. Let them go.
Set my mind on what is actually true and life-giving.
Help me be mindful of your grace at work always,
your constant presence, even in the awful times,
and the gift of being with you, even in the horrible times.
Fix my mind on your grace,
and give me faith to let go of everything else.
Nothing else will fit in this little lifeboat
but me and you, and your infinite grace.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —May 6, 2019

Take a bow

The trees with their deep roots know.
The birds who have migrated far see things.
If you think it the other way round, that is your learning,
but: they who know the deep darknesses,
who have threaded those maps, they have seen
already the new life rising in you,
the stone-freed tomb opened,
and they have burst into applause,
and that is what all this is,
the improbable fling and flaunt of spring,
unabashed unfurling of ferns in their nakedness,
outrageous display of every twig's finery,
outlandish vim of blossom and feather
and song flitting among the black trunks—
it's all celebration of what they've seen in you.
The cycle of life is natural, deserving no congratulations,
but this divine uprising in you is astonishing,
and inspires them no end.
The brave little shoots shoving up
through soil, through stone, insistently, yes,
they're green with envy of the unfolding in you.
The whole woods are astounded,
standing on their chairs clapping and shouting,
throwing bouquets of flowers to you.
Even at night you can hardly sleep
for the roar of the crowd of stars, cheering and cheering.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —May 3, 2019

Belt around you

         When you were younger,
         you used to fasten your own belt
         and to go wherever you wished.
         But when you grow old,
         you will stretch out your hands,
         and someone else will fasten a belt around you
         and take you where you do not wish to go.

                           —John 21.18

You made your way through this world,
straight when the path curved,
diverging when you chose,
taking the road not taken, smug,
this was your path, the way of youth,
to choose and to go.
But now another courage is demanded of you,
to submit, to renounce all willfulness,
to be led. Not by circumstance, but hands
seeking you, making their way
through circumstance.
How strange that this encounter,
outside your control, beyond your plan,
leading to unchosen places, this loss
would be the Friend. How odd that such diversion
would lead you to places of divine choosing,
might bring you where you need to be.

Do you feel the belt around you?
Can you walk gently enough to follow the tug?
Will you come?

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

 ―May 2, 2019

Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance

It's easy, really.
You don't have to do anything at all.
First you just don't care. That's it.
A shooting, some graffiti, whatever.
Be a little sorry, sure. But just.
Then let it side. Practice indifference.
When you get good at not caring
you realize how easy it is to justify it.
You've got a life, right? Besides, you know
there's a reason it happens to “those people...”
And if you can justify their suffering,
it's not a whole step— really just a shuffle,
to actually recommend it.
And then before you know it you promote it.
And then, bingo.
The ovens just light themselves.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —May 1, 2019

Free to begin

         Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?”
         They answered him, “No.”
         He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat,
         and you will find some.”

                  —John 21.5-6

No doubt
I have some habit
and you will come along today
and show me a new way.

No doubt
I am locked into a familiar being,
some unquestioned self,
and you will appear,
risen and freed from what used to have to be,
and invite me into
a new self.

Give me grace to set aside my expertise,
become a beginner,
even at being,
and discover.

You are free from my past;
give me grace to die and rise with you.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

April 30, 2019

See you

         Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach;
         but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus

                  —John 21.4

How often in my labors,
the must and the can't and the so what of it,
does the Changed One appear,
glory of heaven crammed into the ill-fitting
costume of a passer-by,
and I fail to see?
I've read poems like this, so I know—
and still
I look and think,
“No, not that one.”
And my nets remain empty.

open my eyes
to see

   —April 29, 2019