Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Among trees renouncing their possessions
linger long enough
’till it’s no longer loss
but an opening,
a spaciousness,
a blessing of the places in between.

The saffron robes, the gold,
the brass bells for the eyes,
the prayer flags trembling in the wind,
the leaves so lightly tendered,
leaping off, loving the falling,
embracing earth, and air,
dropping with delight
into the wooden beggar’s bowl
of this afternoon,
a bare branch reaching
through the light for light,
the many-fingered choir
raising praise to chanting skies—

these simple gifts
are no ascetic urge
but naked offering,
the turn of dying into living,
broadening the room
between our losing and our giving.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

A sticky note from Jesus


Don’t forget–
I’ll meet you today
at that painful place.
(You know I always hang out there.)
Remember, it’s all about healing.
See you there.

Love you,


Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
The Pharisees plotted to entrap him in what he said. “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” Jesus said, “Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose image is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

         —from Matthew 22.15-21

You, made in God’s image,
stamped with God’s likeness,
you are God’s valuable coin.
God intends to spend you
according to God’s desire,
to spend you on life,
on what delights God.
Will you be a coin that has
rolled under the sofa,
or the one stuck to the bottom
of the piggybank, “saved”
but never spent, never redeemed,
waiting for some future that never comes?
No, beloved, be spent!
Let God give you away
and have a blast doing it,
let God hand you over
for the very thing God longs for,
as thankful for you
as a beggar is grateful
for the coin that buys him lunch.
You are God’s,
so give yourself to God,
knowing God will spend you,
and trust this: that spent,
sent into the world
by the God of death and rising,
the God who loses nothing,
tomorrow you will find yourself
in God’s pocket.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
I’m not in these woods to get anywhere
but to be here,
to lay my eyes on these trees
softly changing
radiant with the mystery
that’s going on inside,
to let leaves fall on me,
to be one of the creatures here,
to stop thinking that I see
and start seeing,
let my mind go fritter with the squirrels,
let them all go,
and not ponder being here but simply
be here.

I could sit by the sea for hours,
sit on a sandstone bluff overlooking the desert,
sit on a mountain crag
without needing to communicate or accomplish
or understand or be elsewhere,
but just to be there.

So I am with God:
not to say anything,
or think something,
to apprehend or convey anything,
but purely to be here,
in this now,
in this here,
in this God.

I could sit here for hours,
even in these few minutes,
and all day long I have leaves in my hair.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

The day after Columbus Day

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

When the Lord your God has brought you into the land that God swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—a land with fine, large cities that you did not build, houses filled with all sorts of goods that you did not fill, hewn cisterns that you did not hew, vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant—and when you have eaten your fill, take care that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

?Deuteronomy 6. 10-12

If we are honest in our relationship with the world, we are mindful that everything is a gift; we have not earned anything that others have not labored for; we do not posses anything for which others have not had to sacrifice. If we read Israel’s history, or America’s, with imperialist eyes, we can believe that God “gave” us these lands, rather than that we stole them from native people. We can forget that our goods, our ease and our freedom come from beyond us.

This doesn’t mean we ought to live in guilt, nor should we live in the past. It’s an invitation to humility, gratitude and simplicity, a deeper awareness and a more heartfelt generosity. This mindfulness says: hold your possessions lightly, since they’re not really yours, anyway. Be gratefully aware of the great web of creation that sustains you: the people who provide your goods, the unseen thousands who maintain the world you live in, the creatures who offer, or become, your food. Contribute to creation rather than merely being a consumer. Avoid thinking that your ease is the greatest value.

Resist the temptation of arrogance with the awareness that you depend upon stolen land, plundered goods and exploited lives. Devote yourself to justice on behalf those upon whose suffering or sacrifice your ease or goods depend. Honor those whose land, rights, livelihood, health and even lives have been taken in the name of your country or your comfort. Repent of your complicity in injustice and oppression, and as much as is possible, refuse to participate in such systems.

Notice today whose labor, sacrifice or suffering is someone else’s gain. Take note, and let it return you to humility, gratitude and generosity.

That we live in such a fine land and enjoy so many fine things is neither our destiny nor our deserving, but a gift. Be grateful, humble and generous, then, and devote yourself to justice for those from whom such gifts are withheld by the very systems that so richly endow us. Above all, be generous. What you have is not yours, but a gift, so give.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Columbus Day

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and peace to you.

You will reach the new life

not on the land of assurance
but on the sea of mystery,

not by believing what you have been told
but by going to a place you do not know,

not in speculation
but in sailing off into the silence.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Wedding banquet

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         A meditation on Matthew 22.1-13

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come.

         • Maybe life is not a test, but a party.
         • Perhaps Judgment Day is not a trial, but a wedding.
         • It could be that what it’s all about is not success but love and faithfulness.
         • What if God’s Word is not a command but an invitation?

Then he said to his slaves, “Go into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

         • It’s possible that what God most wants of you is not to be “good” but to be present.
         • Imagine that everyone else is also invited, and being present for God is being present for others.
         • Consider that when we judge others as not worthy to sit with, it is we ourselves whom we exclude from the Realm of Heaven; we are the ones who will not come.

When the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to the attendants, “Throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.

         • What if righteousness is not purity but wonder?
         • Maybe many are grudgingly obedient but few are joyful.
         • Ponder this, that since the invitation may come at any moment, we should be dressed for the party at all times: our hearts clothed with joy, prepared to celebrate, ready to rejoice in the gift of faithful love, not on some distant day, but right now.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Prayer for compassion

Loving One,
I open my heart to you,
a window open to the morning sun,
and you flood me with your gentle compassion.

You love me when I am in harmony with you
and when I am not.
You accompany me in easy times and hard.
And you have created me to love:
not to be pleased, or to get my way, or to be right,
but to love all beings with your love.

Grant me your steadiness,
to care most that I love, not that I be satisfied.
May I shine with compassion all this day,
extending loving kindness to all,
to those who are pleasant and those who are not,
in ease and difficulty,
free of judging,
desiring only to love all beings
with your unflappable love.


Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

More mystery

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Our little minds in their lab coats
pick away at the darkness,
unearthing, mapping, putting up lights,
toward the day when all is revealed.

They can’t know
that God is creating mystery
faster than we can explore it.


Weather Report

with flurries of wonder,
as a thick layer of divine presence
settles over the area,
obscured by our desire to understand.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

The trees presenting their offerings,
the rumple of weeds like children
hanging on the neck of the brook,
the host that pours through the city
are not merely here,
not simply stumbled upon,
I have given them to you.

This day, its delights, its troubles,
your whole life, your death,
this moment,
are not happenstance or imposed,
they are what I wear.

What you encounter in this world
is not here of its own accord
or for its own sake,
it is how I give myself to you.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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