Geese process up the aisle of the sky
as if sent.

All these flagrant leaves shine
as if they're worth something.
Trees fling them
as if they're doing the right thing.

I walk among them, breathing,
as if caught up in something
in the upper levels of heaven
unknown to me
but unfolding before my eyes.

Walk, they say,
as if you are aflame with beauty.
Live, they say,
as if you are holy.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 21, 2019

Help me today

God, help me today
to love with gusto,
to forgive with courage,
to look for your grace,
to seek presence, not comfort,
to be grateful in all things,
to receive you in whatever form you come to me.

Help me today to be who you create me to be,
not what others desire,
to trust you in what is difficult,
to let your love flow through me
without impediment or hesitation,
to be present in this life,
not hankering after one I imagine.

I surrender myself to your love thriving in me,
love that unites me with all your Beloved,
with all Creation, with you:
for even though I am not fully aware
I am fully yours,
and I give you my thanks;
I give you my life.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 18, 2019


The reason you ache
is the Beloved has to drag you
kicking and screaming into heaven,
while you keep your death grip on the sharp rocks.
The reason you feel empty
is you've spent yourself on excuses.
The reason you're tired is it's hard work
to run away.

Aw, forget it.
Just give in
and let the Beloved
pick you right up
and carry you off like a prize,
like a sleeping child.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 17, 2019

Corrupt judge

         “Though I have no fear of God
         and no respect for anyone,
         yet because this widow keeps bothering me,
         I will grant her justice.”

                                    —Luke 18.4-5

The judge never does change his mind.
He will never be her advocate.
He's just trying to get off easy.

My sin is like that judge.
I may be forgiven, my guilt washed away,
but my sin isn't going to change.

My ego is still in office.
My self-centeredness hasn't given up.
My racism hasn't ben unseated.

Imagine the widow is a black woman
pleading that her children not be shot.
She'll have to ask more than once.

God has to hammer away at my racism,
over and over, and wear me down,
daily remind me of my sin.

It doesn't go away. My inner judge is corrupt.
Only when I know that do I listen
to a voice that knows better than I what to do.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 16, 2019

Pleading widow

         The judge said to himself,
         “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone,
         yet because this widow keeps bothering me,
         I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out
         by continually coming.”

                  —Luke 18.4-5

Our gender and power stereotypes told us to assume
the judge is God, which would make us the poor widow.
But wait. Who judges? Who cares neither for God or people?
That would be us. And who continually demands
that we do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God?

Sorry, we don't get the high ground here, denying our privilege,
pretending we're faithfully imploring God
with our persistent quest for justice.
We're the ones deaf to the cries of the poor.

God comes in the voice of the vulnerable, the easily ignored,
while we in our arrogance easily ignore.

How disconcerting that in this story
the ball is in our court, not God's!
The demand has been made, over and over.

Jesus warns us: God can outlast us.
But when God comes, will God find us listening?

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 15, 2019

Indigenous People's Day


We've called this “Columbus Day.”
But it turns out he was a savage man,
racist, violent, selfish and abusive.
The land he “discovered” was somebody else's,
but he took it anyway,
along with a few hundred lives,
and few hundred slaves.

So what do we do when our hero
turns out to be the bad guy,
the one who personifies our sin?

We name it. We confess our mistake.
We repent. We turn toward reparation.

Today I invite you to honor Indigenous People's Day.
One simple thing you can do:
Learn where you live.
Look up the name of the people who lived where you are
before the Europeans came.
Learn how to say hello in their language.
(Yes, you in Canada and South Africa and Australia and New Zealand, you too.)

I live in the land of the Wampanoag people.
Their greeting is "Wuneekeesuq."

It's a tiny thing.
But it's a step,
a step toward honoring the right people.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 14, 2019


         One of them, when he saw that he was healed,
         turned back, praising God with a loud voice.
         He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.
         And he was a Samaritan.

                  —Luke 17.15-16

The Samaritan, the foreigner, the outsider.
Not accustomed to being treated well.
Not burdened with a sense of entitlement.

How often I expect life to go well because,
well, because I'm a good person and I deserve it.
How we privileged folks take our blessings for granted.

What if I were to shed that arrogance, lay down
the burden of expecting everything to be fine,
and greet every grace with wonder and amazement?

I'd spend my life at the feet of Jesus. I'd burst
into flames, a burnt offering of thanksgiving.
I'd be glad. Always. Every breath I'd start again.

Every moment would become miraculous.
I'd become impervious to heartache.
I'd spend my life dancing.

What am I waiting for?

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 11, 2019

I don't see you

I don't see you or feel you.
I know you coming out of things to me,
a breathing out into me,
a light pouring out of pure darkness
into me, full of the mystery of that dark,
full of this light, invisible darkness.
The urge in me that makes me breathe
I can't find, but always comes, always.
You are the point on the horizon, the faint star
I see not by looking at but slightly away,
or even in the opposite direction,
where you smile like a knowing beggar,
where you reach out just before I suspect you
like a friend, with the perfect surprise,
like, in a foreign, unsure, impossible place
someone covering my eyes from behind and saying
“Guess who,” and I hear the unmistakable voice
of my lover.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 10, 2019


         And as they went, they were made clean.
                  —Luke 17.14

Jesus sends lepers to the priest
to show him they are healed—
before they are healed!
It's only as they go they are made well.

Jesus seems pretty confident.
They must be, too, or they wouldn't be going.

Take for yourself this confidence:
that God wishes you well,
and that it shall be so.

What afflicts you now
will not determine you.
Already your blessing is decreed.
Go and show yourself.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 9, 2019


         Ten lepers approached him.
         Keeping their distance they called out,
         “Jesus, have mercy on us!”
         When he saw them, he said to them,
         “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”
         And as they went, they were made clean.

                  —Luke 17.12-14

Leprosy meant uncleanness... impurity...
some distance from God... and from others.
If one were cured of leprosy
one had to be pronounced clean by a priest.

Call to mind all your impurities, your flaws,
your failings public and secret,
what distances you from God, from others,
from your true self, what's disgusting about you.

Show yourself to God. You are made clean,
pure, whole, acceptable, good. You're fine.
Imagine all shame, guilt and sorrow gone.
Evaporated. You're perfectly fine.

Humility and gratitude dance hand in hand.
Judgment has no footing. Only wonder.
Tenderness toward others flows naturally.
Once you know everyone's secret we all look different.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 8, 2019


The leaves fall and fall,
and then the colors wander off,
and then comes November's cold, its grayness,
all reduced to shades of gray, then winter.
First there is some loss, and then there is some loss.
The birches and maples and beeches
stand silently without birds, without regret.
They are not counting. They are not trying.

Once you have let go of all you are fond of
you are empty enough to listen
for a presence only absence can reveal.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 7, 2019


Well, we're all looking, aren't we, for something?
Sweeping the house with every broom of indulgence,
every whisk of duty, poking under every chair leg
with the roaring vacuum of desire. Finding nothing yet.

Or studiously avoiding what we're seeking, desperately
averting our eyes, staring at a piece of trash glinting...
How silly, or sad, the way we trade our hungers for ones
we're more comfortable complaining about.

No one told us, or did they?, that the sweeping sound
is music of the greatest genius, but only if we go slow
and listen to it, the tune of our longing without finding,
because what you would find is always what you don't have,

and what you most need you already have. It's here,
and never left the house of your heart, given to you
like your skeleton, your gravity. Your whole life, precious
one, is the sound of God sweeping the world for you.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 4, 2019

Fortune cookie

You are going to die.
                  Probably not today... but keep it in mind.

You are going to shine.
Definitely today, though it may not be visible
from the outside, outside being too distant
from the throne of your being,
the gem of your you.
Today beneath the rumple and muddle
                  you will shine.

You will trip and fall,
though in what way or how badly is yet unclear.
But you probably will not die.
                  Keep that in mind.

Today you will pass by the actual gates of heaven,
their confounding pearlescence hid from your naïve eyes,
but there it will be.
                  You can go in.

Today you will be loved from every direction,
though you may not see a hint of it
till the stars come out holding up their lights
like your fans at a rock concert.
                  That's what that will mean.

Today you will be loved by the One whose love
is powerful enough to spin planets and fill oceans
and make something as glorious as you.
Keep that in mind.
Even as you pick yourself up off the floor today,
                  keep it in mind.

Weather Report

you will reflect on the weather,
which will reflect you.
Though you will see it all about you
none of it will be about you,
and as you find yourself in the thick of it,
in the thick of it you'll have to find yourself.
Whether or not you do,
it will still be weather.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 3, 2019

Mere slaves

         “We are merely slaves;
         we have done only what we ought to have done!’”

                  —Luke 17.10

Admire the heroes.
Let their focus and perseverance fill you.
But don't bother trying to emulate them:
you'll only feel inadequate.

Listen for what you yourself are called to do,
the gyroscope in you that leans you,
the magnet that pulls you toward something.
Merely do what is in you to do.

Don't try to be the hero who dashes out of the ranks.
Be a mere slave to the passions you're given,
the lowly servant of goodness and beauty and justice,
quietly obedient to the voice within.

Light is generated not by success,
but by obedience to your given gifts.
Tie a rope around your waist and your vision.
Follow humbly. That's all your heroes have done.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 2, 2019

Mustard seed

Faith is no superpower;
it isn't a substance with quantity.
Faith is trust in God,
openness to the power inherent in what is.

Faith is being in the grip of the gravity
of God's grace.
It's the gravity that does all the work,
and no one is without it.

Faith is a tiny, weak finger
willing to flip the light switch of God.

Faith is whatever the bird knows
of feather, of wing, of air.

Faith is allowing light to shine,
lungs to breathe, God to love.
         If you have faith the size of a mustard seed...
                  [Luke 17.6]

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 1, 2019


Driving lost in night rain far off,
doubling back down rutted, regretted roads,
over a small bridge of low lying trauma

from nowhere to somewhere even less anywhere,
windshield wipers teasing us but not making it better.
The little tunnel of light in our headlights

reminds us too much that we were born
with a sore, festering into certainty,
that our whole life is a long, slow mistake.

We don't seem to notice in the other seat
the Beloved, coloring all over the map,
murmuring, “Thanks for giving me a lift.

I don't care where we are.
I just like being with you.
What a gift.”

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

September 30, 2019

Too Much

I didn't hear the joke among the geese
but I hear them laughing and laughing,
and I swallow some of their hilarity.

The maple wastes its red on me
—I can't take it all in—
littering the floor with glory.

A flame of vine flashes up a tree.
Berries hang I know I can't eat but
still they look so dang good.

Apples ripen and hang like ornaments
offering themselves, the opposite of beggars,
Here, have me. Have all of me.

So much to recall and celebrate
in reds and yellows. Leaves don't mind
spending their splendor on me.

This is too much, I think, too much,
but the crow by the road laughs and says
No, actually, it's just about right.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

September 27, 2019


Troubled and burdened, I go to the woods
where the trees are not trying so hard.
Not striving for the light,
simply letting what is in them unfold.

Water in the brook whose flow is merely surrender.
Birds letting go of their songs, songs threading
through woods as far as they go.
Leaves untroubled to be turning the color of death.

A snake growing a skin to shed,
a pod growing a seed to release.
Only gradually do I realize
how content I am to be here.

A nuthatch works a little branch,
finding something tiny here and there,
until she is done, and turns and flies off,

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

September 26, 2019

At the gate

         There was a rich man
         who was dressed in purple and fine linen
         and who feasted sumptuously every day.
         And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus...

                           —Luke 16.19-20

If I believed in a literal hell I would have to take note
that here and in the great judgment of the sheep and goats,
the one criterion for being sent up or down
is how we treat the poor.

Of course I give to the poor at the food bank.
But I still keep them outside my gate, don't I?

And what of the socially homeless, the wounded,
the lonely, the scared, the trans, the different?
How do I cut myself off
from the hurting outside my gate?
How do I shelter myself in my privilege?
How do I love that gate?
What shields me from other people's suffering,
from other people's vulnerability?
Today will I even notice it?
What can I do today to open the gate,
to invite them in, or to go out?
Only when our gates are open can they become
the gates of heaven.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

September 25, 2019

Buried treasure

The “X” on your treasure map
         is usually a wound.

Your buried treasure takes a lot of digging,
         or sometimes just sitting there.

The latch on your treasure chest
         is usually a silly little thing.

But it seldom opens easily.
         You sealed it shut for a reason.

Sometimes the Beloved lifts it open for you.
         Or pushes it open from inside.

It's bigger on the inside than the outside.
         You have to climb in.

There's never anything in there.
         Just you, as you were created,


Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

September 24, 2019