Marathon kindness

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
After yesterday’s Boston Marathon bombings, people around the world are praying for this city, and the people affected by the violence. But don’t stop there: pray for the whole world. After all, it’s really the world’s marathon. I’ve been there near the finish line, surrounded by people of every nation. As the winner runs by, a crowd breaks out in the national anthem—of Kenya. I’m sure you noticed all the international flags in the news videos. It’s the whole world’s race. And today we’re a part of the whole world’s pain. We share the trauma and grief that much of the world lives in every day. This is not Boston’s unique pain. It is everyone’s. Pray for the the healing of the world.

People say, “Be strong.” We will, yes, we will. But the world does not need strength. What the world needs is kindness. The world needs people who have the courage to be gentle, even when those around them are full of rage and despair and violence, who refuse to join the world’s bitterness. The world needs people who choose love over fear. That’s the only thing that will actually change the world.

It’s not easy. Love is not quick, and does not produce immediate results. It’s a marathon. It takes dedication and training and a lot of commitment. It’s not for the faint-hearted. As Gandhi said, if you are too cowardly to be nonviolent, by all means take up arms to fight for justice. Love takes guts. It takes faith, confidence that a greater love is at work even when we cannot see it. And it takes patience, like a marathon — the willingness to go the distance, to keep at it when your body cries, “Quit!,” when your mind thinks of better things to do, when pain and weariness make you want to give up —it takes guts to keep going anyway. The Via Dolorsa is the toughest race. To share in the world’s pain and sadness, and still keep up hope and love — that is the world’s oldest marathon. The good news that we do not run alone. Nor do we run on our own energy: we are moved by the desire of God for the healing of the world.

Pray for those who are in pain today. Pray for the world, and for each of us, for the spirit of peace, for the courage to love in the face of fear and be gentle in the face of violence, for the guts to be part of the mending of the world. Pray for those who are hurting, for those who are afraid, for those who are in sorrow. Pray for all of us, that we may make gentle this wounded world. Even now the Lamb of God is moving among us, never giving up, keeping on with unflagging love and tenderness. Take heart, breathe deeply, and keep going.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)

Spring blessing

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

A Spring blessing

May the mystery of spring unfold in you:
the illimitable vigor of life rise up in you,

the joy of tiny green things enlighten you,
the patience of bare branches assure you,

the hope of bird songs guide you,
the confidence of migrating birds sustain you,

the flowing of sap invigorate you,
the unfurling of leaves open your heart,

the rising of shoots encourage you,
the opening of blossoms show you,

the work of insects serve you,
the flowing of water bless you,

the movement of sun and earth beckon you,
the life within protect you.

May the One who is Spring
give you life and beauty

and flourish in you
with splendor and grace.


And for my friends in the Southern Hemisphere:

May God give you courage to go your way
when others go another,

to be true to the energy of life within you
and not surrender to the words of others,

to be patient when what you desire is afar,
knowing that what you most need you already have.

And may you trust that in all seasons
life is rising within you, powerful and new.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)


By the Sea of Tiberias

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.


Defeated, burdened by
the dark repeating,
the dead weight of finality,
abandoned in our losses,
power failure,
collapse of choice,
we suddenly grew old and fruitless.
The door closed to the place
to begin again.
Grave and determined,
we went back
and threw our nets.
In the narrow night
we caught nothing.

Then —

Who but the Beloved
would call us that,
awaken such a dawn?

Who else would name our void?
Once again we are turned,
shown an unaccustomed way,
welcomed to another side
where something opens up
and miracles are brought
from deep beneath us— too much
magnificence for us
alone, too much.
Our bodies are startled.

A voice of recognition—
not from our head but another—
sings out, the alarm
of knowing what we know.
We put on white robes
and throw ourselves
into the baptismal deep.

On the shore — is this the near
one now, or far? —
you give us once again this
self of you, this whole, this you.
You break our fast with wonder.
We feast, astonished
from our hands,
yet from beyond.
We offer what we have been given,
this multiplying banquet.

How can we not then,
withholding nothing,
even what is not yet given,
feed your sheep?




Deep Blessings
Pastor Steve
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail
write to me at unfoldinglight8(at)

Something like scales

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Saul, breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, was approaching Damascus. Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” … Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing…. Ananias laid his hands on Saul and said, “…Be filled with the Holy Spirit.”…. And something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored…. and he began to proclaim Jesus….
— from Acts 9. 1-20

Beloved, Living, Eternal Presence—
I confess that I make enemies. I judge people, blinding myself to them, treating them not as persons, but as figments of my judgment. I make them into a symbol of what I dread or despise, an embodiment of a fear or memory, a stereotype of something within me that I dislike. Not an individual, not your beloved. But you, O Suffering One, O Holy Despised One, you are my victim. Open my eyes. Let me see you in my victim, my enemy. Let me hear your voice in them. Blind me to my old ways of seeing. Let me be helpless in my separation from others. Cast me onto the care of others. Let me discover that I am one with my enemy. Let me be re-made by being forgiven by those whom I persecute. God of Truth, let the scales fall from my eyes, that by your Holy Spirit I may see with reverence and proclaim your love. By your love, may I not oppose my enemies, but tend your lambs.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)


The belt around me

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.


Awed by power,
inspired by glory,
drawn by wonder,
I willingly follow.

But forgetful, distracted,
senseless, afraid,
I fall behind, I wander,
I withdraw.

Yet you will not command,
only beckon.

The glory of this world
is not given merely for my pleasure.
The tender love,
the generous presence,
the costly forgiveness,
the miraculous feast—
it is the gracious belt around me
leading me
beyond my choosing.



Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight8(at)


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
The woods this morning didn’t look any different from autumn: trees bare, grass brown, dead leaves on muddy ground. But spring is happening. The woods were thick with bird song. I saw the beaver who hides in the brook. I came upon a little marsh where some little critter was singing away, a single frog proclaiming its news. Others joined in, in a great chorus of peeping and screeching. I couldn’t see any of them. I stood there a long time and looked, but I couldn’t find one. I came nearer—and of course they all stopped. They knew I was there. And though I could not see them, I knew they were there.

Most of what goes on in this world is unseen. Planets orbit, flocks migrate, cells and organs work in the darkness. And love does its work. Skeptics look for proof of God, as if God were Bigfoot, as if The Holy One were any more provable than love or humor, as if paparazzi could somehow catch Spirit taking out the trash. No, God is The Unseen One. The closer we come the more there is only mystery. Fools never realize that when we stop knowing and can only wonder, we are seeing God.

We learn to tune our hearts to the invisible, to see with our souls, not just our eyes, to know that we live in a world and in the company of a Presence whose power and grace so far exceeds our capacity to know or see or understand that all we can do is wonder and trust. The world sings its song. God is at work. We come near, and listen with gratitude, and wonder and trust.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)

Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance

“Never again,” we cry.
We wish.
We remember the six million,
we think the Nazis were cruel and crazy,
we think all that was so strange and faraway.
We look at the past, we look far off,
we look away.

That’s all it takes
for it to happen again.

We think ”them,”
not “us,” not “my people.”
We think, “Somebody else did that.”
We never think, “I’m part of that.”
But it happens all the time.

Jews, Gays, immigrants,
Palestinians, Indians, prisoners,
the infirm, the mentally ill,
victims of trafficking,
migrant workers, kid laborers,
the anonymous poor in Africa,
it doesn’t matter. If we can’t
think of them and say “us,”
we are doomed.
All it takes is the word “them”

to light the furnaces.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)

On the third day he rose

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

           “Blessed are those who have not seen,
         and yet have come to believe.”

                  —John 20.29

“On the third day he rose from the dead.”

I don’t have an idea what this means.
I have a trust, a gratitude, a courage,
but not an idea, an explanation.
Nobody got a picture.

Maybe Jesus suddenly took a breath,
sat up and walked out, squinting in the light
like a new-born baby.
Maybe God gave him a new resurrection body,
at first unrecognizable,
not earthly at all, but Something Else.
Maybe the Body of Christ is the community,
as Paul said. Maybe it was a heavenly vision,
a hallucination, a cover-up, a plot.
Or just warm fuzzy feelings.

I don’t know. What I know is this:
Before that day the disciples were fearful, ashamed,
broken, hiding and confused.
And afterward they were joyous, confident
and fearless, and gathered together
to proclaim what they had seen.
Somehow, the Living One met them
and called them out of old lives into new ones.
In whatever form he came, that is the Risen Christ.

Once I was broken, empty, ashamed
and without hope in the sham I called “myself.”
But a loving presence walked me into the darkness,
laid me down, made me over and brought me out.
Whatever that is, that Change, that Power—
that’s resurrection.

Whatever transforms you is resurrection.
Whatever mystery makes you let go of the old life
and makes you more loving, more joyful,
more hopeful, trusting and grateful,
is the power of God. It is all you need.
Whoever forgives you, whoever bears you over
is the risen Christ.
Stop trying to get an ID, to get a picture,
to explain, analyze, dissect it.
Let it be the wondrous mystery that it is.

Blessed are they who have not seen
and yet who have come to believe.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)


How it looks

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.





You wake this morning
things look the same

but some kind of disturbance
behind you dark a thick net

an impossibility a trap sprung
now and harmless nothing so different

no drama but a not aloneness
a peace you can’t quite name

Things look the same but
what if this is how it looks

standing in the door of your tomb
looking out at the new life?


Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)

A new spirit

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the people, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Loving One has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
         — John 20.19-23

Jesus did not return from the dead to make a point, or evoke belief. He came back to give the disciples his spirit. He breathed on them (breath and spirit being the same word in Greek) just as God breathed life into the dust of the earth at Creation and made a living human. Filling them with the Holy Spirit, he created them anew. This is John’s version of Pentecost.

In the grief and shame of confronting our sin, we get the wind knocked out of us. In God’s forgiveness our old spirit of fear and anxiety is blown away. Our old, tangled lives are wiped out and we begin fresh. God breathes a new peace into us, the peace of knowing we are loved and forgiven and free, the blessing of being deeply at peace with ourselves and God and the world. God creates us anew, with a new spirit.

It is God’s one spirit, the same spirit with which Jesus lived. Jesus tells us it is the powerful spirit of forgiveness. In his wounds he shows us it is the willingness to suffer for the sake of love. His peace is not mere “peace of mind;” it is the confident, courageous serenity that enables us to bear love into a hurtful world. By it we may cross all kinds of barriers, as if walking through walls. It isn’t anything we have to muster up; it is a gift. He breathes it into us.

And he sends us forth. You are sent in the same was he was, the very same way. Breathe deeply of the love of Christ. It is powerful enough to overcome death. It is in you. How will you live?

Peace be with you.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)

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