Fot Lazarus to rise

When Lazarus heard his name
he took a sudden breath.
With visceral trembling blood resurged.
But then, as when awakening some days,
he lay a moment, mired,
reluctant to rise from the familiar
swaddling of his death
Rising, even more than dying,
there could be no return:
for if he chose to stand,
all he knew would then be lost

And still now every morning,
each momentary wish for healing
is a risk, a wakening call
to change, to choose,
to leave so much behind,
and be again made new.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Dry bones

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and peace to you.

         God said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?”
         I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”
         Then God said to me, “Prophesy to these bones,
         and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.
         Thus says the Lord God to these bones:
         I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.”

                           —Ezekiel 37.3-5

There are parts of you,
maybe great parts,
that have withered and died.

Maybe spiritual gifts that you have buried,
a face of yourself you have closeted,
wounds ignored, hopes starved.

Some have passed on, forever.
But some, God may breathe life into.
God may bring bone to bone and sinew to sinew.

You may be aware of it; a daily ache.
Or it may be unknown to you,
a hidden mystery.

What part of you is God bringing back to life?
Where is God’s breath blowing,
the dry bones moving?

Don’t direct the wind.
Don’t even worry where it is.
Just prophesy to the dry bones.

Speak hope.
Be open to the miracle.
Let God breathe, and wait.

Deep blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Come out

        Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
                           —John 11.43

Come out, you who have been entombed
in silence, in fear, in condemnation,
come out!
Come out to the one who loves you.
You who are afraid for your life,
who are afraid of your life,
you who are ashamed,
you who have been bound,
come out into your own life!
You who have been told you’re unworthy,
you who are afraid of failing,
come out into your whole life.
You who are wounded and grieving,
who are hopeless or depressed,
you who wonder if you’ll ever live deeply,
come out into life’s fullness.
You who are well defended in your fortresses,
in armor, in costumes, come out.
Gays and abuse victims, transgender and shy,
gifted and doubtful, queer and other,
you can come out.
Come out of your closets, out of hiding,
out of exile, out of the wilderness.
You have a place, and the tomb is not it.
The One Who Weeps for You
calls to you.
You are wanted. You are mourned.
Come out.
And you who have rolled the great stones
over other people’s lives,
roll them back. Stand aside.
Never mind the stench.
Call to them. Open your arms.
Unbind them.
Let them go.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live,
          and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.

                           —John 11.25-26

Death, we are certain,
is final, a wall.
But Jesus says death
is not final at all:
not a wall but a curtain,
a hallway, a door,
a passage to something
uncertain but More.
Death is a darkness
and death is a dawn,
a deep letting go,
and a bright moving on.
The door is unlocked;
if you push it will give.
First you die, Jesus says,
first you die, then you live.
Help me, God, by your grace,
every moment, each breath
in and out, to receive
the new birth we call death,
like Lazarus, swaddled,
and just coming to,
awake from the birth canal,
risen and new.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Love is Like This

Though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus,
               after having heard that Lazarus was ill,
              he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. …
         Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here,
              my brother would not have died. …
         Some said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man
                have kept this man from dying?” …
         Jesus wept.

                           —John 11.5, 21, 37, 35

Jesus hears the news, silent,
and stands by the window.
He feels the urge rise in him,
the wave of entitlement.
He remembers the desert,
the lure of magical powers,
the world in his hands,
the longing to be able to fall without hurt.
He feels the hunger to be exempt
from sorrow, from powerlessness, from death.
Which is to be exempt from life.
He would not choose that,
for himself or his beloved.

Only in the deepest love does he release his friend
from his own desires,
into the fragile craft that is life.
Love is like this, and worse:
the surrender, the pain, the hands pierced and empty.
He sits, for two days.
He enters the tomb
of his own broken heart.

And on the third day he rises.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Last week’s heavy snow bent young pines down
then froze their tops to the icy ground.
Most have come free and have straightened up,
that mysterious life force raising us up,
never punishing, always raising us up.
There are some whose trunks split,
or were uprooted. Some will not survive.
Even now some are still bent and bound.
Most will survive. Some will not.
In any storm not all survive,
not all of us.

But take courage Beloved.
You are not a tree.
You are a forest.

Weather Report

as both life and death blow through us.
Storms will both strip things bare
and water the earth.
High and low pressure areas will develop
in isolated areas,
but you belong to something larger.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and peace to you.

         We must work the works of the One who sent me
                  while it is day;
         night is coming when no one can work.
         As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

                           —John 9.4-5

This is your day, your life.
Night will come, when you are no more.
But today you are God’s light in the world.
This is the time to shine,
to love, to forgive and ask forgiveness,
to speak for justice, to give yourself
to the mending of the world.
This day.

The coming of night need not frighten you.
But let it keep you awake
while it is day.


Deep blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at)

You are light

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and peace to you.

         Once you were darkness,
                  but now in Christ you are light.
         Live as children of light—
                  for the light shines
                  in all that is good and right and true.

                           —Ephesians 5.8-9

You don’t need to seek the light.
You are light,
light of God’s Word,
light of Gods love,
shining in your being.

Meditate on this light,
glowing from within.
Trust this light,
given, not made.

Don’t worry to shine the light;
it already shines.
Simply be mindful.
Open the shutters of your heart,
and let the divine light radiate.

You are light.


Deep blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at)

So we may become blind

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and peace to you.

         “I came into this world for judgment
         so that those who do not see may see,
         and those who do see may become blind.”

                           —John 9.39

The ninth chapter of John tells a story hilarious with irony about Jesus healing a blind man while all those about him can’t see the truth. They are not ready to see the man healed, because it contradicts what they believe. For them truly believing is seeing. They don’t believe; so they are blind to the miracle in their midst.

How like us. We have things figured out. We have people pigeonholed. We have our ideas about God. We have our opinions. And of course—lucky for us—we’re right. Prejudices, judgments, beliefs: delusions, all. They keep us from really seeing.

Sometimes I know the woods so well I don’t have to look. I don’t see them. Sometimes we see people the way we’ve been conditioned to see them, and in our eyes they can’t change. It is not God who is absent. It is we who are blind.

Jesus told us parables to confuse us, so we would start over. “If your eyes causes you to sin, pluck it out.” When what you’ve seen keeps you from seeing anew, blind yourself.

Blind to our judgments, unknowing, perhaps we will really see for the first time.

Deep blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at)


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and peace to you.

Today, the first day of spring,
is a door still closed.
Woods still in the ice trap,
pine saplings still bent,
their tops bound to the icy snow.
My fingers ache from my walk.
They feel no different from deepest January,
tut the sun is moving,
rising to the right of the trunk
where it rose yesterday.
Earth is leaning. I can hear it.
New birds sing.
I hope in spring, not because I wish
but because I know.
I trust what’s beyond the door,
even before it opens.
The grace of God, and free forgiveness,
and the treasures that lie within,
a heaven that comes like breath in my sleep,
do not ask proof.
Today is the first day of autumn
for my friends Down Under.
I stand on greening earth.
The door is within.


Deep blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at)

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