Command these stones to become loaves of bread…
         Throw yourself down…
         All these I will give you, if you will worship me…

                  —from Matthew 4.3-9

Power to command,
control, to force—
I want.

Safety from hurt,
from risk, from limitation—
I crave.

Fitting in, being right,
well thought of—
I insist.

Solitude strips me
of them. Leaves me
with you alone.
And stone.
And height,
the broken bone of fear,
and being
alone, a soul
solely being.

I fast from needs
I did not need. So freeing.
Their teeth let go
till only you I need,
and only you remain,
blessing the broken bread
of me, now new, now freed:
my bread, my life,
my pain, my fullness,
my love.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

February 28, 2020

Categorized as Reflections


         Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit
         into the wilderness
         to be tempted by the devil.

                  —Matthew 4.1
Desert wind
blow through me.
Expose me.
Let the sun of your grace
sear down to its bones
my sin.
Erode the stones
of my wants.
I walk among
my desires’ skeletons laid bare.
Starve me of all
but you.
There in the wild, the empty,
be my only food.
In the harsh be my only safety,
in the solitude my one true love.
In my fear bear me,
in my aloneness join me,
in my weakness be me.
In this valley of my death
be my life,
verdant and eternal.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

February 27, 2020

Categorized as Reflections

Dust and breath

         God formed a human from the dust of the ground,
         and breathed into their nostrils the breath of life;
         and they became a living being

                  —Genesis 2.7

You are dust and breath,
matter and energy,
earth and Spirit.

Neither alone:
their need for each other,
their love of each other.

God is the love, the dance,
both wedded.

That’s what makes us human.
Return to the bothness.

God, to be true to our dust,
true to our breath,

your breath, your dust,
your bothness, your usness.

Give our love flesh,
our dust breath,
our death life.

Give our us you,
so we may give you
our us.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Ash Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Categorized as Reflections

Waiting room

This is us, in the waiting room. The day room on the ward.
Nobody isn’t in here. Nobody isn’t everyone.
Nobody’s better than this. I might as well admit it.
I’m the lunatic, terrified of stuff that isn’t real.
I hear voices. I obey them.
See me? I’m the thief, wanting things,
taking things, finding ways to call them mine.
I’m the murderer, privately bloodied with anger.
See? I’m the adulterer, compulsively unfaithful.
I’m the pervert, entitling myself to the bodies around me.
Look. I’m the exhibitionist, just wishing to be seen.
I’m the psychopath who just can’t let the world be so.
I’m the addict, lucky enough to find an acceptable
drug—propriety, maybe, or success, or being normal.
(I’ll steal to support my habit.)
The approved suicide. The sicko, yeah, that’s me.
This is us, sitting around the waiting room,
all of us hoping for Treatment.
Out on the street we pretend,
but in here everybody knows:
you’re not evil, but yeah, you’re pretty sick.
For the grace that loves us no matter what,
and there’s a lot of what these days,
for our Therapist, we all wait—only say the word.
We line up at the little window,
hands outstretched for the meds we need,
the only holy broken heart that heals us.
And we receive.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Shrove Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Categorized as Reflections

Wild prayers

Some pious people go out and catch prayers
like fireflies and put them in a jar
and bring them home and keep them in there
till they die.

But prayers are wild. You don’t “have” them;
you witness them. You hold still for half an hour
and if you’re lucky you see one float by,
or spot one grazing on a far hill.

When you pray, open up a space in you,
a verdant valley where there is life
with lovely copses and dry pits and rocky places,
and sit very still and watch and wait.

You don’t get to choose what passes by.
Just watch. Maybe you’ll see one, briefly.
If not, stay anyway. It’s good just being there.
The Beloved is also there, unseen, watching.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

February 24, 2020

Categorized as Reflections


         While he was still speaking,
         suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them.

                  —Matthew 17.5         
When the bright cloud
fogs our knowing
we begin to come to wisdom.

When the light blinds us
to all but wonder
we begin to come toward the truth.

When our understanding fails
we embrace the light of things

When we know we don’t know
and yet it is there
all we can do is pay attention.

Enclosed in mystery,
we are opened
to everything.

Weather Report

as brilliant Presence
dense with light
descends to ground level,
dispersing the clouds
of our condensed knowledge,
and precipitates as hope and joy.
Expect unsettled weather to follow.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

February 21, 2020

Categorized as Reflections

Candle in a dark place

         Attend to this
                  as to a lamp shining in a dark place,
         until the day dawns
                  and the morning star rises in your hearts.

                                             —1 Peter 1.19

In a house at midnight
even moonlight through the window
can light your way.

By the light of a faint star
slaves found their way
to freedom.

Even in thickest night
my Presence quietly shines,
not a searchlight, but enough.

Sit with me ’till the light
fills you and you yourself
are a candle in a dark place.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

February 20, 2020

Categorized as Reflections

Enough light

God I pray
not to have
the light
of the sun
that would
scare us all
even me
but even just
enough light
to help
one person
out there
just please
enough light
in me
you shining
to light
my own way.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

February 19, 2020

Categorized as Reflections


         Six days later, Jesus led them up a high mountain.
         And he was transfigured before them,
         and his face shone like the sun,
         and his clothes became dazzling white.

                  —Matthew 17.1-2

Six days after what? And were there trumpets?
Hallelujahs loud? Bright lights? No, Jesus was
bright enough, it seems. But not some photo op,
dear Peter, sorry, not his great acceptance speech.
Six days after what just happened, happens always?
No, no speech at all but this brilliant silence, light
as of death surrounding him, the dead doing all
the talking: other greats, like him, but not the CEO’s,
the billionaires, the victors, no: just old ones, tired
of seeing the vision greater than greatness,
weary of dragging us toward heaven, six days after
what? Jesus talking about his death, the death of all
of them, all of us, the lost, the martyred, the sold,
the lynched, the shot, the Trayvon, the Sandra,
the witness, the prophet, the truth-teller, the weary,
six days —though it takes longer than that to do justice—
after he said —though words aren’t enough—
you have to die, taking up your cross, resisting evil
with nothing but love, shining with light, Beloved,
blessed and appointed—listen, keep listening—
surrendered, scrubbed and resurrected from the start,
heading already down the mountain, down into the valley,
into the darkness, the trouble, the woe, shining.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

February 18, 2020

Categorized as Reflections

Mantle of light

The evening light settles like snow on everything,
giving new shape to the gate beside the road,
and the people standing in the gate,
whose faces are of molten gold,
and whose hands are flocks of birds,
in which the hand and the light turn
at the same time, as if speaking to each other.
We are frescoes, perfected while the light is still wet.
Trees are poured down out of light
into ground that does not resist.
Their twigs bend almost imperceptibly under their yoke.
The air is so thick you like to move your hand through it.
In this light everything is a child,
or an angel, and even the darkness believes.

This does not mean anything,
but it helps me learn the light within,
and remember how to see,
and bear this luminous mantle as if it is not burdensome.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

February 17, 2020

Categorized as Reflections
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