God’s works

        “Neither this man nor his parents sinned;
         he was born blind
         so that God’s works might be revealed in him.”

                  —John 9.3
Sooner or later someone is going to say
God sent the coronavirus to punish
somebody (gays, probably, or maybe old people).

God is not a guy who does things like that.
God is not a guy.
God is Love.
Love is not a guy who causes things to happen,
like giving you a disease or a mishap
or a lottery ticket or a recovery from illness
as a test, lesson, punishment or reward.
Love doesn’t manipulate,
doesn’t force you to experience something.
Love isn’t in the past, settling accounts.
The pure, positive, life-giving energy of love is God.
Love doesn’t play games.
It just blesses, nourishes, provides, connects, delights.
In our difficulties Love is with us, suffers with us,
gives us energy to prevail.
And sometimes that energy overflows in healing.
Love’s works are revealed in blessing amid brokenness.

Ah! So Love will cure my troubles?
No. Love will love you though your troubles.
But what good is a god who can’t fix things?
A god who suffers our suffering and doesn’t stop it?
That is the question, and the answer, of the cross:
a God who will not stop crucifixions, but be crucified.
Such a suffering, forgiving, loving presence
is deeply healing, miraculously life-giving.
It puts us in touch with the very force of life
that causes us to live, to be healthy, to be whole.
And it opens our eyes to the work of Love.

We are experiencing the coronavirus
so that the work of love might be revealed.
If our eyes are open, we will reveal it.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 17, 2020

No distance

        In the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body
                  —1 Corinthians 12.13

Our social distancing is an illusion.
We are one. There is no distance. No gap.
Isolated in your apartment, you belong.

You breathe and it fills my lungs.
You weep and my heart is broken.
We are one body in many places.

In this time of separation we open our hearts,
we allow ourselves to flow out from our bodies
in Spirit to one another, to the strangers

who are part of us. Like the Italians
singing from their balconies with neighbors,
we are all notes of the same song.

Love flows where germs cannot. Meditate
on our amazing unity. Extend your spirit
to include all it includes: the whole world.

Breathe in this breath (so threatened!), a gift.
Breathe out this breath (so released!), a gift.
Let compassion for all beings flow with it,

in and out, refreshing your whole body,
the Body of Christ, the whole human family,
the whole Creation. Let love be our body.

Let your love take flesh. Make calls.
Write letters. And when you come back out
don’t stop being one another’s body. It’s your life.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 16, 2020

Strike the rock

        “Strike the rock, and water will come out of it,
         so that the people may drink.”

                  —Exodus 17.6
When it’s hard, and you don’t know how,
and the need exceeds your capacity,
it isn’t yours that matters. It’s God’s.
When your emptiness looms,
your terrible weakness dominates,
when you are an empty water jug,
then—perfect!—you are ready
as a vessel for the mystery of God.
When there is no hope and you
are in a wilderness without drink,
strike the rock. The water
comes from beyond your imagining.
Yes, there is no water, and besides
you don’t know how to strike the rock.
Yes. Strike the rock anyway.
When you are called upon to serve
beyond what is humanly possible,
trust this, child of God,
and strike the rock.
Desert rock, hush: behold,
there is water in you.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 12, 2020


         Religion that is pure and undefiled
         before God, the Creator, is this:
         to care for orphans and widows in their distress,
         and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

                  —James 1.27
What if you tried to stay spotless
from one stain and were marked
by a completely different one instead?
What if you are a carrier?
What if no amount of washing,
even a baptism by immersion,
can remove the germ in you,
silently replicating,
passing to everyone you touch,
outfoxing the authorities,
leaping boundaries,
outpacing all our defenses,
changing you forever?
What if you self-quarantine
and still it gets into you,
whether or not you are prepared,
or worthy, or strong enough,
upsetting your life,
your plans, your control?
What if you’re too late,
you’ve already eaten the bread
unwashed, drunk undefended?
What if by some impossible turn
or by an ordinary encounter
it has infected you
and you need to be careful
in touching people
because it spreads,
and soon it will change the world,
this living entity,
with a life and will of its own,
gushing up to eternal life,
this virus of divine love?

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 11, 2020

Woman at the well

          Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’;
         for you have had five husbands,
         and the one you have now is not your husband.”

         The woman left her water jar and went back to the city.
She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me
         everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?”
         They left the city and were on their way to him.

                  —John 4.17-18, 28-30

Noon. Last in line for morning water
(lukewarm, dirty, too late for breakfast). A pariah.
No wonder: she’s been used and thrown away five times,
now with a guy who uses her but won’t claim her.
(Marriage wasn’t in a woman’s power. She’s merchandise.)

Jesus sees all that, and—get this—moves right past it.
That’s not who she is.
He engages her like a rabbi, discussing, disputing.
Talking theology. Talking would you believe it theology!
(The Canaanite woman is the only other person, male or female,
who can carry on with Jesus like this.
Hm. What’s with these women?)

She leaves her jug. Because she knows she’s coming back.
She’s been transformed from pariah to preacher,
the first Christian evangelist. How did that happen?

Jesus saw the gift in her.
Saw that spring of water gushing up to eternal life in her, already.
The disciples say, “Want some lunch?” and he says,
“No thanks, I’ve already feasted. I’ve been fed.”

God, give me the grace like Jesus to see your divine presence
in every plain and put-down person—
to see their calling, their light, their power,
just waiting to be seen.
Even in myself.
Already she has left her jug for me.
Let her lead me to you. I will leave my city and come with her,
till I am like her, gifted in my wounds, purposefully sent,
confident sister,

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 10, 2020


Silence is how I knock on the door.

Silence is how you answer.

Silence is the tea we share.

Silence is our embrace.

Only in parting is there a word.

But the silence I take with me.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 9, 2020

Such love

         God so loves the world
         as to give the Only Begotten,
         so that everyone who trusts in the Chosen One
         may not perish but may have eternal life.

                  —John 3.16

how can they put this
on a bumpersticker


How can they
make it something
a hurdle a test
a threat
love will overhurdle that

there anything not
so giving life
to trust

A mother nursing her baby
no other desire
      no other

how could I contain the sun
or bind the light
or miss the warmth
passion for us
so gives
such self such you
so creates so saves
how can we not
give thanks
      and thanks


Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 6, 2020


          The wind blows where it chooses,
         and you hear the sound of it,
         but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.
         So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

                  —John 3.8

          God said to Abram, “Go from your country
         and your kindred and your father’s house
         to the land that I will show you.”
                —Genesis 12.1

Wind of God, blow me where you will.
Fill my sails. Be my course.

Raise my anchor, holding so fast.
Cut the lines that tie me to the dock.

Your deep breathing and laboring love
birth me through this canal of life into life.

Lead me to a place I can’t name
can’t control, can’t choose first.

Even if the strange place is within,
the foreign land my neighbor.

Spirit, my wind on the baptismal water,
give me courage to be blown off course

with love, abandon my ego’s maps.
Breathe me into the New World,

you, my ship, my captain, my natal sea,
my breath, the only place I hope to go.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 5, 2020

Born again

        Nicodemus said to him,
         “How can anyone be born after having grown old?

                  —John 3.4

I’m sorry. There is no how.
There is no jump, leap, crawl,
climb, push or swim.
There is only allow.
Being born again
isn’t something you can do.
It’s something your mother does
for you.

Breathing in and out
you descend into that dark tomb
that only when you enter
is a womb.

Much you can’t save,
you must shed to fit,
surrender to become
a fracturing seed
like broken bread.
What you leave behind in the grave.

Dying is your only choice,
surrendering your only how.
The rest is gift and mystery,
and God’s work, not yours.
There is only allow.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 4, 2020


I am empty
for you

for you.

for you

More than a feeling
a state

Full of the presence
of absence

More then hungry

I move through you
like water like prayer

Into this unease I settle

Thank you for this hemming in
this mindfulness.


Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 3, 2020

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