We have a problem. And I am part of it.
God desires fullness of life for every being,
but some are denied and excluded. Whole
races, genders, identities and natures are denied,
and I am part of the problem.
I carry my white, male, straight Christian privilege
through a world where few have that.
My privilege comes at others’ expense.
It’s not my fault. But I am part of the problem.

I don’t always know exactly what to do.
But I am always choosing either to disrupt it
or to allow it to persist. There is no standing by.
Racism is a fire in the house:
either you are actively trying to put it out
or you are letting it burn.
Either the suffering of your siblings wounds you
and you yourself are outraged and yearning,
or you are not—which is the problem.
Those who don’t look like you are just like you
except for how they are treated.
Either you think of them as “them,” or as “us.”
Either it is your problem, or you are part of the problem.

When we work together there is hope.
Even though the work is never done,
when we work together to solve the problem
we solve the problem.
We can do this. There is hope.
There is hope.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

January 31, 2020

What is weak

          God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;
         God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
         God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not,
         to reduce to nothing things that are.

                  —1 Corinthians 1.27-28

Yes, child, of course you are just a little one,
without power and status in this world.
This means nothing, excuses nothing.

God avoids armies and lightning bolts,
smartypants, strongmen and bullies,
avoids them like poop on the sidewalk.
For God is not a strongman, but a beckoning.
God is a wound, a weakness among us,
an emptiness, a leaning toward what must be filled,
a yearning that draws but does not coerce,
who, even creating, allows but does not demand.
God prefers little ones, despised ones, powerless ones,
impossible ones: a child in a cage, a girl crying out,
a black man shot, a crucified peasant.

Or you, little one, whom the world judges foolish,
endowed with love and therefore
with more power than a tyrant.
Fear not. Speak out. Live your light.
God has chosen it, and not some secret weapon,
to shame the strong, to heal the world,
to bring life out of death.
You, little one, go with courage.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

January 30, 2020

Do justice

         What does the Holy One require of you
         but to do justice, and to love kindness,
         and to walk humbly with your God?

                  —Micah 6.8

Justice, kindness and humility,
offered in the presence of God:
they are not three separate things,
but three dimensions of one thing.
Justice is kindness extended humbly,
as God’s gift, not our own imposition,
equally to every one of God’s Beloved,
without judgment, privilege or exception.

Only kindness can define justice.
Only in humility will we see our injustice.
Kindness alone shows humility before God.

It takes faith, love and courage
to do justice, to make kindness the law,
to abolish all privilege, judgment and exclusion.

God help us to do justice, to love your kindness,
to walk humbly in your presence. Amen.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

January 29, 2020

Poor in spirit

        Blessed are the poor in spirit,
         for theirs is the realm of God.

                  —Matthew 5.3

God, may I be an empty vessel for you.
Bless my willingness to have nothing to offer
except your presence in me,
and my trust in your grace in this world.

Bless my willingness to mourn for my losses,
to weep with those who suffer,
to lament the brokenness of the world.
I trust and await your consolation.

Give me courage to be powerless, to be inadequate,
to be weak, to depend on you,
and trust that in my emptiness
your grace is infinite and miraculous.

Give me faith to work for justice,
to be a peacemaker amidst hate and anger,
to bear your spirit into fearful places,
for I am your child, your Beloved.

Trusting that the kingdom and the power and the glory
are yours and not mine, I yield everything to you.
Surrendering all and seeking the lowest place,
I will be en empty vessel for your grace.

I am willing to die, and be raised.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

January 28, 2020


Blessed are you who are empty handed;
         you are in God’s hands.

Blessed are you who are brokenhearted;
          your broken heart is God’s.

Blessed are you who are powerless;
         love’s power will never fail you.

Blessed are you who wish you were closer to God;
         your wishing is God in you.

Blessed are you who are kind;
         the universe will be kind to your soul.

Blessed are you who seek Oneness;
         you are One.

Blessed are you who stand with the poor
         that is where God is standing.

Blessed are you who are wounded
         when you stand for justice;
you are embraced, you are enfolded,
         you stand among the great.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

January 27, 2020

Stay close

The bee works its way
deep into the blossom.
Go into that extravagance.

The Beloved enters this day
and bids you follow.
The Divine Presence
moves through this moment
with grace and power
and invites you:Stay with me.

Follow hope
into the moment,
follow grace
into the passageways
of time and space,
follow love
into the intricacies of relationships.

In the crowd
of the day
stay close
to the Beloved.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

January 24, 2020

“Follow me”

                  “Follow me.”
                  —Jesus, Matthew 4.19

Forty-one years ago I was graduating from seminary in California. I hadn’t really thought about my future. I assumed I’d go back to Montana and be a pastor. My best friend, preparing for an internship, said, “Steve, I’m going to Minnesota. I can go with you or without you.” I moved to Minnesota. She didn’t need to say the words, but her love said, “Follow me.” This June we’ll celebrate our 40th Anniversary.

Forty years ago, as an intern chaplain at a State Hospital I was to visit someone in intensive care. It was an old building, often remodeled, with hallways jutting off each other at disorienting angles. The patient’s room was at the far end of a warren of hallways, rooms, adjacent rooms and what seemed like booby-trapped secret passageways. I was at a loss how to get there. And being young and green I wasn’t sure of my authority to go traipsing through such forbidding neighborhoods. But a nurse said, “Follow me,” and she started off. Staying right behind her, I made it.

When Jesus says ”Follow me” it isn’t a command. It’s an offer. It’s an accompaniment. It’s a rescue.

Forty years ago I began in parish ministry, but not on my own: Jesus went ahead of me. One by one I’ve gone into five churches (some of them co-pastoring with Beth) and a college campus, and every time, there was Jesus walking just ahead of me, saying, “Follow me.”

For forty years I’ve walked into worship services and family meetings, emergency rooms, nursing homes and jail cells, new places and threatening places, and whether or not I knew it, or listened, there was Jesus walking just ahead of me saying, “Follow me.”

And now after 40 years, Jesus once again says, “Follow me”… and walks off… into my retirement. I’m not quitting. I’m not giving up. I’m following my Guide into the next unknown adventure. I’m letting go of “being a pastor,” and moving into something else. (Don’t worry—I’ll keep writing. Now I’ll have more time to write.) I’m doing what I need to do to stay close to my Beloved.

Whatever you are doing, wherever you are going, whatever you are facing, the Divine Presence is just ahead of you, leading, guiding, empowering. Stay close.

My retirement will come at the end of June. We’ll be moving to Maine, to a new neighborhood, a new life. And every step, Jesus will be right there, just ahead of us…

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

January 23, 2020

Call and response

 You rush and rush to quell the pull,
you chatter on and listen to the chatter all
to mute the call, but there it is.
It gleams in you like hope, it leans in you,
it turns you like a gyroscope,
and sometimes seethes,
or settles in and hides
in bleak, quotidian need or want,
in greed for thing or sense (or none).
But still in you it deepens,
resonates from merest mumble
to large blue tones, huge bells,
the sound of oceans, pull of seas,
a sea that swallows, surges, flows,
the joyful longing, welcome ache
you hold until you break and hear the voice
that makes such sense of all that came before,
that makes of half the world a dull nonsense,
that frees your terror and your joy
(why do we deny ourselves this love,
this pang that pulls us out of larvae into life?)
the call you fear and long the most to answer,
so close in voice and volume
to the first “Let there be light”—
the simple summons: “Follow me.”

And, just a bit, sometimes, you do
and are reborn.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

January 22, 2020


Between the tree and the nuthatch
there is no illusion,
no disagreement.


Between the clouds and us
there is the distance they prefer.
Between the wind and us
there is none.


Between you and the stranger
the air is a channel electrically charged,
anticipating lightning.


Between evil and sorrow
there is only the slightest shade,
differently aimed and armed.


Between truth and knowledge
there is a vast space, and often years.


Between mercy and the need for mercy
there is no daylight,
no gap, nothing.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

January 21, 2020

Justice cry

The cry for justice
is not desperate,
not fragile.
It comes
from the center
of the earth,
like gravity,
the hunger of all life
for each other,
for belonging,
for the alchemy
of becoming whole
by becoming one.
Our Great Men
are mostly deaf to it.
The smaller you are
the greater its power
in you.
It does not cease,
but makes you ache
(evil the desperate avoidance
of the haunting ache)
until you answer.
Answer, then
and fall into that gravity,
into that grave.
Empty yourself
of all power.
Yes, die.
Into that cavity rushes
the infinite power of God—
and you are raised,
one now with the pressed,
the shunned, the used.
This power
will sustain you
through this death
and the next and beyond.
Resist evil, injustice and oppression
and evil will fight back.
But never mind your deaths.
Stay risen.
Even crucified
do justice,
trust God,
and stay risen.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

January 20, 2020
Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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