A prayer for those on vacation

God of Sabbath, Master of infinite playfulness,
bless those who are on vacation.
Protect them from the worries of home.
Guide them, that they may become lost
in a new place, with no way but to wander.
Shepherd them to still places.
Watch over them, that they may not stumble
into work or obligation.
Grant them wonder, delight, renewal and release.
Run the world without them.
May their fireworks be grand, their campfires lovely,
their beaches uncrowded, their traffic at peace.
When they are renewed,
bring them home safe, whole and changed.
And may the savoring pace of their absence
stay with them, by your grace.

I’m off. See you July 9.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve


Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.


Your life is an open doorway
where God enters the world.
What you say and do,
what you notice,
what you hold and set down,
each is a portal.

The passage is best left open,
not filled.

Fully formed opinions
are of no use,
nor are collections
of little buttons,
things you’ve done right,

only the space
to let God by
and maybe a little
of the breeze
of heaven.


Deep Blessings,

Pastor Steve


Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Unfolding Light


The flow of blood

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

         “Daughter, your faith has made you well.”
                  —Mark 5.34

The sacred blood that flowed twelve perfect years
was never stanched—the healing was not such.
Drawn by the Heart most wounded, salved in tears,
still flowing and too sacred to be touched
she surged through calloused throngs; and stained his cloak
and heart with dark, unclotted faith, her true
blood sacrifice, her tithe of pain, that spoke
of life within her flowing, flowing through.
Heart pierced, he blessed his new blood-sister’s flow;
they both the holy mystery revealed
of wounds blood-sanctified, in which we know
that life is uncontained, and we are healed.
The cross thus washed in double flow of blood,
the curse thus hemorrhaged, life renewed its tide,
a welling up, a sea released, a flood
of life her tear-stained face could never hide.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”
                  — Mark 4.36-40

Storms will come, count on it.
Times may come when you feel God is asleep,
not taking care of you, protecting you.
“Don’t you care?” you will pray.
Of course God cares, but just isn’t worried. Not at all.

You see, you are perishing, my dear, bit by bit.
God won’t take that from you,
won’t come between you and the storm,
but will go through it with you.

Even as the waves of your fear
wrap their white knuckles around your boat
there he is, curled in the stern,
unworried, vulnerable, babylike, willing.
Do you think he’ll let it sink if he’s in it?

When Jesus, drenched with your life,
cries, “Peace, be still,”
who do you think he’s talking to?

The calm of a storm-free life
might indeed be, as the writer says,
a dead one.

And if this really is the last chapter of your life,
won’t you have had
exactly what both of you want the most—
to be together through it all?

Storms will come.
Peace, be still.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
Yesterday at 7:09 p.m. (Eastern time) the sun crossed over the equator. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s now summer. But you folks in Australia and Sough Africa who are starting winter can keep us honest: for everything we experience, there’s another perspective!

In the summer the days will get hotter…but not longer. We’ve had the longest day of the year; they’ll get shorter from today on. The hot days of summer don’t come until after the sun has done its great strenuous work, and the days are already shrinking. In its waning season, the sun is most powerful. Even in these sunny days, the darkness is growing. Even in strength and power, there is still loss and diminishment. In the midst of life, there is death. Balancing the Northern Hemisphere is the Southern.

We long for the light, but God has so tempered the world that there is not pure light, but night and day, summer and winter. We can’t become attached to any one extreme. But we can be attentive to the shading of things, and to the peculiar mix that is in the present moment.

Having passed another birthday last week, I am aware of the linear nature of life: it proceeds in one direction, and will never come this way again. But the solstice reminds us that it is also cyclical. Maybe we move in a spiral. Maybe time is neither strictly circular nor linear, but cumulative, like rings of a tree. We don’t leave the past behind; we add to it. Life is past and future mingled in the present: life and death, attaining and losing, suffering and deliverance, summer and winter, each present, each passing. Therefore even death is not final. There is always more life. Always.

Even in the summer of your life, winter is working. Even as life is growing in you, so is death. Be mindful of both life and death. Honor them both, for they are both blessed. The darkness shines in the light, and the light cannot overcome it.
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

A postcard from God


Thanks for your kind thoughts. You’re right: sometimes it gets lonely.
But don’t worry about me; I know where to go for a good time.
And I’m not traveling alone. Everything I see reminds me of you.
Like the light on the water in this picture.
Funny: no matter where I am, the thought of you gives me joy.

Don’t forget to feed the little critters.




Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

God says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”
See, now is the acceptable time.
Look!— now is the day of salvation!

—2 Corinthians 6.2

Your salvation is not a possibility, but a reality,
not a reward but a gift,
not a final chapter after you die but the essence of your life,
not some happy ending when everything looks dire
but every moment’s worthiness, and yours.
It’s not that you’ve escaped your sentence
but that there is no condemnation.
It’s not that you are good enough, but that you are beloved,
no that you have attained some state or other,
but that the Holy One is perfectly happy with you.
Your salvation is that that’s all you need.
You are saved from your own self-definition
because God includes you.

Your salvation is the belonging that makes your life essential
no matter how it turns out;
it’s God’s regard that saves the deluded
from their self-importance and their self-unimportance,
the presence that saves the depressed
from being measured by their despair,
the deep peace that saves the enraged
from their self-consuming bitterness.
It’s the reverence that saves the doubting
from having to prove themselves,
and the prideful from thinking they could.
It’s the love that enfolds the wasted and deranged
and despotic in their various hells,
and you the same.

It’s the gutsy love of the One
for whom your every moment is precious,
the deep-throated cry of desire and delight
that makes even your failures and desolations a gift.
It is the Living One breathing in you,
right now, this breath.
It is the attentiveness of the Listening One hovering,
the ear just inches from you, ready for your whisper.
It is the outpouring presence of the Faithful Mystery
who loves you like a mother watching her sleeping child,
loving him no matter what he dreams,
no matter what.

This moment, from all that diminishes life,
by her loving presence,
you are being saved.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve


Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
Since I wrote to you last, Beth and I have celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary, our youngest son’s graduation from college, my 59th birthday and Father’s Day. Jill, our son Dan’s fiancee, helped Beth find a dress to wear for the wedding this fall. We helped Jonathan move into his new apartment, met Erin’s new girlfriend, met our niece-goddaughter’s fiancee, saw our nephew before he leaves for France, visited with five of Beth’ six siblings, and saw Beth’s brother and sister-in-law’s house they will soon move to after nineteen years in their present one. That’s a lot of family stuff. And a lot of transitions. Each of those new steps is also a leaving, a surrendering of an old reality to move into a new one.

Be grateful for the love that surrounds you, and for the opportunities you have to love. Be mindful of your place in this world, and your connection to people you care about. Never doubt that you are loved, though those who love you may be far away. Love people, every chance you get.  Spend your love recklessly; it will never be wasted. It is the spending, not the result, that enriches us.

Pay attention to the moment that you’re in. It will pass. It is a transition, not a final destination. Each moment is a letting go and a beginning.  Love in this moment. Receive what this moment offers you. Be lovingly attentive to what is, in the present moment. What comes next is full of promise, not the least of which is this: that there will always be more love. Trust this, and let God’s delight fill you.
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         What can be seen is temporary,
         but what cannot be seen is eternal

                  —2 Corinthians 4.18

We’re off to Minnesota for our youngest son’s college graduation. Graduates tend to experience mixed feelings: pride, relief, a sense of achievement—and grief, or at least the anticipation of it, at the end of relationships, experiences and a way of life. That’s how it always is. We outgrow things. We move on. Even good changes are difficult, and sometimes even sad. But we move on. “When I became an adult, I gave up childish things….”

It’s no easier to mature in our spiritual lives. At times we outgrow things that we’ve become familiar with and depended on, for decades or maybe even our whole lives: beliefs, feelings or experiences, ways of worshiping or praying. When things shift like that, especially when the familiar no longer comforts us, it can feel like things are falling apart, or that God has abandoned or mistreated us. But it might be that God is simply letting us grow up. We have come to what is officially called a “Commencement.” A beginning. It can feel like an end, but it’s also a beginning.

When that happens, it sometimes feels like it’s not just you, but the whole world that’s changing. That’s actually true. St. Paul says, “If anyone is in Christ, there is a whole new Creation” (2 Cor. 5.17). It might be disappointing for graduates these days to “commence” in a world that has no apparent place for them; without jobs, they go home and live with their parents. Sometimes in our spiritual lives we feel like what we do in our souls is of no great importance in the world. But remember that when you let God change you, you change the world. No one might see the contribution you make, but Creation is made new.

Whatever Commencement you (or your kids) are experiencing, congratulations! Now get used to the change. What can be seen—the outward forms of the life you live—is temporary. It will keep on changing. It’s what is invisible that is essential and eternal. Your soul will outlast all the beginnings and endings you experience. Get used to letting go, letting God change you, letting the world evolve. Don’t worry. What matters most will not be lost, even if you can’t see it. After all, the greatest treasure of all no one can see but God.

I’m taking a vacation from Unfolding Light, so I’ll be off through next week. See you on the 18th.
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Tying up the strong man

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         No one can enter a strong man’s house
         and plunder his property
         without first tying up the strong man;
         then indeed the house can be plundered.

                  —Mark 3.27

Your worst nightmare,
your most frightening demon,
the most evil power that threatens you,
stalking your darkness and oppressing your days,
even Satan himself,
is in bigger trouble than he thinks.
Take joy in this most gracious of crimes:
the Humble One
has gone in through his terrible back door
disguised in sorrow, scorn and weakness,
and tied up the strong man,
stripped him naked,
exposing the sham of his glory,
robbed him of all his treasures,
emptied his powers,
and plundered his house of shame.
There’s nothing left of him but your fears.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Your Cart
  • No products in the cart.