The stone the builders rejected

         The stone the builders rejected
         has become the chief cornerstone .
—Psalm 118.22

Not popular. Misunderstood. Scorned.
Loyalists to the Emperor shout him down.
You’ll have to decide to stand
with him, this improper sovereign.

Even then don’t set yourself too high.
The emperor in your head also
looks down on him. You sometimes
hide inside, safe, a flag in your window.

Even what saves is most strange, slips away,
repels even. Behind your love a wariness,
a weariness, a will to turn away.
On the tip of your tongue, the word “crucify.”

The emperor of your mind remains
in office. But unnoticed, on the other side
of the city, the Humble One with nothing
but love enters the gate.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 31, 2020

How long shall I live?

How long shall I live? I asked.
The brook flowed silently beneath me.

Will my children be well?
The bird sang and sang.

The sun came up low through the trees
as if reaching up for something.

A nuthatch, head downward,
worked a hickory trunk,

considering the bark with care,
one little peck at a time.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 30, 2020

Unbind me

         The dead man came out,
         his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth,
         and his face wrapped in a cloth.
         Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
 —John 11.44

The call of God
is stronger than death;
the word of God is breathing itself.

I have been called into life,
raised from the dead,
saved by the mercy of the Beloved.

And still I walk trailing grave clothes,
face wrapped in a preserving veil,
feet bound in fear of decay, hope of eternity.

I walk still in death’s skin, hear muffled,
speak from under cover, see through a shroud,
drink the wine through moldering cloth.

Set me free now from all that still binds me,
strips of the past anticipating a future, shielding
me from moving, changing, touching, seeing.

Saved but still bound, I need you. Name the self
deeper than the wrappings they see.
Give me this breath, this light, this moment.

From what I fear, from what still holds me
unbind me, Love.
Set me free.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 27, 2020


Dust we are, and to dust
we have already so nearly returned,
even from our dearest.

We are afraid, not having
thought before, how one’s germ
is in everything.
Sequestered from the plague
we are all looking out of our graves
at one another, distanced.

We so hunger for flesh to be unbound,
to come to the green, to one another,
unafraid to touch and be touched.

A voice calls. What graves need not hold us?
For from our shrouds our spirits, free, do get up
and meet on the green and dance anyway.

How much of our anguish is not
the assaults from without but
straining against the walls from within?

When will we follow, eager to touch what others
have touched, to meet, to join—one living body? For
we are free to love most closely, even from our graves.

This, to be free to dance, and to dance, in or
out of the flesh—not a stretching out of time—
this is the infinite to which we are raised.

You are dance, and to dance you shall return.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 26, 2020

Jesus goes to Lazarus’ tomb

In once full arms
I hold a wreck of sorrow.
I am ruined.
And you, Beloved,
you who see
to the bones
of my heart,
you who stride waves,
who order winds
and shame demons,
you to whose authority
the universe bows,
you stand
not apart
from this grave darkness
but here
in the pit of me,
and wield your greatest power,
calling forth,
bringing light
up out of the terrible depths,
commanding life itself
with the one force
to revive me,
the heart of God outpoured:

with me, in me
you weep.

I am unbound.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 25, 2020

Let us go

        Jesus said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”
         The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the people were just now
         trying to stone you, and are you going there again?”
         Jesus answered, “Let us go to Lazarus.”
         Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples,
         “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
 —John 11.7-8, 15-16
Jesus faces the death of his Beloved friend.
He suffers the loss, and in love is death’s victim.
Yet after two days—on the third day—he rises
to go to Lazarus, to be victorious over death.
But Thomas knows—ah, Thomas, later
we’ll call him “Doubting”—but he knows:
first you have to die. Victory over death
can only be attained by entering death.
Jesus will have to die, a little bit,
in his powerlessness, in his deep, helpless sorrow,
in the sisters’ grief and anger.

Go with the Risen One and die with him.
The paths of righteousness (for God’s sake)
walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
This is the journey toward the cross.
Through the tomb toward the glory.
Through the dying to the rising.
Only in the depths of his loss
will Jesus touch the power that is beyond him.
Only when he weeps at death can he command life.
Let us also go, that we may die with him.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 24, 2020

No detour

         After having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer.
         Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here,
         my brother would not have died.” 
 —John 11.6, 21

Why did Jesus delay? So he could raise him? No,
he wouldn’t let someone suffer unnecessarily just to prove something.

In this time of imposed self-isolating it strikes us Martha’s right:
if he’d been there it would have made a difference.

But he delayed. Sit with Jesus a minute in the waiting.
Let this time pass over your anxiety. Don’t leave.

Lazarus is dying. Don’t move. Wait.
What comes to you?

Consider. Maybe Lazarus would have died anyway,
and Jesus knew. You are not in control.

You can’t save even your dearest. Life will happen to them.
You can’t escape life and its suffering. Even faith offers no detour.

Unpreventable tragedy will strike. Illness unto death.
Believing “It shouldn’t happen to me” is a burden.

Maybe Jesus took two days to accept what he could not control,
and to find God there in the powerlessness,

in making peace with what is.
Letting go of what he wanted, good as it was.

We are not in control. But God is here.
Sometimes it takes time to find God by not escaping what is.

I write these words waiting to hear who of my beloved is ill,
knowing my part will be to wait at a distance.

Want what you want, even life itself. Do what you can.
And let go. Make peace with what is, and find God there:

the God who sits with you in your powerlessness,
the God who waits… the God who is already there.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 23, 2020

Present shepherd

        Even though I walk through the valley
                  of the shadow of death,
         I fear no evil; for you are with me;
                  your rod and your staff— they comfort me.
 —Psalm 23.4

In this time of fear and uncertainty
we look with anxiety to the future.
But the Good Shepherd leads you
into the present moment.

Anxiety is an invader from the future.
The Shepherd of our Souls offers us
courage and comfort in this moment.
Follow the path into the present.

The green pastures may be distant
from this shadowed valley,
but they are greater than yo know.
You fear the smallness of your vision.

Meanwhile the Shepherd of our Souls is here
with us, leading us, right now.
Behold this moment. Behold the love.
Look till you see beauty. Stay till you know.

It is not protection from the future,
but the presence of the Shepherd,
even in the darkest day, that is our peace.
Trust that peace. Follow that shepherd

into this moment. Be present.
Stop and breathe, and breathe again.
No matter what happens in the future
God is here, with you, now. Be present.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 20, 2020

First day of Spring (or Autum)

            Holy One you are my shepherd;
                  I shall not want.
         You make me lie down in green pastures;
                  you lead me beside still waters;
                  —Psalm 23.1
Things change. Seasons turn. Life goes on.
But your will for our wholeness is steadfast.
You shepherd us through dark valleys,
but we shall come to green pastures.

On this first day of a new season
I open my heart
to your turning of the earth within me,
the always-renewing of life.

The shadows I see are not everything.
The valleys I pass through are not the end.
All things you renew, all things you transform.
I give myself up to your shepherding.

You bury the seeds of joy in me.
I pray for trust.
I wait with you for their fruiting.
I pray for hope.

Fully present in this present moment,
I surrender to the gentle tipping of the earth,
the green pasture I can’t yet see,
your unseen grace emerging even now.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 19, 2020

Psalm 23: My mommy

God is my mommy.
         She’s all I need.

She gives me a soft place for naps;
         she takes me to safe places.
When I’m upset she holds me
         ’till I become myself again.
She leads me by the hand.
         Quite the pair, my mommy and I!

When I am scared to death
         you are right there. No worry.
Your strong hand and firm voice save me.

You set the table for me and
         the siblings I’ve been fighting with.
You wash me up with that gleam in your eye. 
My plate is full.

Your motherly love stays with me every day. 
I will be your beloved kid forever.


Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 18, 2020

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