Psalm 23

Beloved, you shepherd me gently.
         You free me from desires.
You bid me lie down in green pastures.
         You lead me beside calm waters.
You revive the breath within my breath.
         You guide me in the paths of harmony
         for the sake of your delight.

O, though I walk through deepest canyons
         shadowed by death
I fear no evil
         for you are with me.
Your shepherd’s staff, your steady hand,
         they comfort me.

In the face of what I fear
         you provide a feast for me.
Your blessing is a long, warm shower.
         My plate is full.
Surely goodness and mercy will companion me
         all my days,
and I will dwell in your intimate presence
         every moment of my life.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

April 30, 2020


        When she has brought out her own,
         she goes ahead of them,
         and the sheep follow her because they know her voice.
—John 10.4

In the West where I come from
shepherds and cattle herders
and their dogs nip from behind—
but in agrarian societies
the shepherd goes ahead
and the sheep follow behind.

The Good Shepherd does not send you alone
but goes first.
In paths of righteousness,
even in the valley of the shadow of death,
the Beloved is ahead of you.

If you are lost or misplaced
maybe you listened to
the commercials of fears and desires
instead of the delight of the Beloved.

Even then, you will find no path
where the Beloved has not gone first
and found the way.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

April 29, 2020

Called by name

       He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
 —John 10.3

The Beloved knows you
and calls your name—not the name everyone says,
but the name whose saying brings you to life,
as surely as God brought Light into being
by calling its name.
The gentle shepherd knows your hurts and fears,
the wounds and frights that bind your will,
the bonds that bend you from your beauty.
The Beloved knows your infant and your toddler,
struggling to walk, to please the mighty ones, to stay upright,
and understands and forgives your stumbling tries
to be yourself in a treacherous world.
The Shepherd knows the precious soul within
and calls you by the name of God’s knowing,
and bids you come.
The Beloved goes ahead of you into your own beauty,
into the serene meadow of God’s green presence.
Listen for that voice, for the shepherd
who does not point but leads.
Follow that one, whose deepest delight
is to give you life, and give it abundantly.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

April 28, 2020


Forget about the afterlife.
Resurrection is not for dead people.
It’s for those of us most alive.
It’s the way we live when we’ve gotten over
being afraid of dying, maybe because
we took to heart the raising of Jesus and maybe
because our life got ripped out of our hands.
Either way God stayed with us and gave us life,
raised us up out of the coffin of our individualism
and its brittle, consuming survival,
and made us part of the Risen Body of Christ,
alive with a life that’s irrevocable, and such a gift
that we’ve gotten over death as a thing and now
we live not in the afterlife but this very life,
the afterlife of what we’re no longer afraid of,
totally free to love no matter what.

Resurrection is the unkillableness of love
that nothing can stop, not even death and despair.
Resurrection is when we love to the bitter end
even when it’s really bitter, and really the end,
and God carries it on anyway in a grace we can’t see
because the love we have is actually God
and God is eternal. Resurrection is what gives us
the audacity to get all up in the devil’s face
with joy and kindness and hope,
and laugh at all his threats, and love people
as if there were no tomorrow precisely because
there always is one, and it’s always God.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

April 27, 2020

Some days

It’s early spring in these woods,
bare trees like quiet old women
wearing little girls’ green things.
But in the cities, silence, and grief.

Some days
I want to lie down in ignorance,
deep in the not yet green grass,
bury my face in the cold unknowing dirt,
not seeing more than a foot or two,
that’s all I want to see.

I get down there just to look
and the brook flows on,
I can hear it, and overhead
long haul geese passing by
on their way north,
farther north than I imagine,
where spaces open out
in a different kind of quiet,
and even the small birds nearby
in the shifting trees
above the prayerful grass
sing on and on.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

April 24, 2020

At table

                   When he was at the table with them
he took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them.
—Luke 24.30

We are taken:
gathered up in God’s grace,
belonging not to ourselves now, but God,
taken out of our lives, and made part of something
greater— infinite, gracious and unendingly good.

We are blessed:
God’s love and delight poured out upon us,
God’s mercy filling us,
so no matter what our circumstances
our lives bear grace and the power of healing.

We are broken:
sinful and incomplete, brokenhearted in love,
perfectly weak and flawed,
we are broken open
so the love poured into us may flow out
into the world.

And we are given
to the world,
resurrected, vessels of blessing,
given to love,
bread of life for others.

God, in your mercy
take, bless, break and give us,
raised, renewed, imbued with your Spirit,
full of beauty, love and courage,
the Body of Christ.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

April 23, 2020

Earth Day prayer

God of Life,
this is the day you are creating;
we rejoice, and are glad in it.
We give thanks for all Creation,
which you are still creating:
for its beauty, its abundance of life,
for its unfolding wonder,
and for our blessed oneness.
Your sky is our lungs; your water our blood.
We confess our betrayal of our body,
imagining ourselves to be separate,
our selfish injury and abuse of the earth.
We repent, and seek to care for life
as attentively as you, for not one sparrow falls
outside your loving care.
May we regard the earth, our Mother,
our Womb, our Body,
with wonder, humility and gratitude,
and bear the fruit of love
so your creating beauty may unfold in us
as fully as in the wonders of nature.
Creating God, create us anew.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

April 22, 2020


                  While they were talking,
         Jesus himself came near and went with them,
         but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
—Luke 24.15-16

Only afterward
do you know it was the Beloved,

who draws near so silently, invisibly,
so much not about himself but you,

it was hardly him there
but the empty space of a divine loving gaze —

until after, when your heart speaks,

with a Presence,
and you know,

and learn to say each moment,
especially the most abandoned ones:

Welcome, Beloved,
whom I do not see,

even whose very absence
is full of your presence.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

April 21, 2020

Death laughed

(Life was looking out the window at the sunrise.)
I was sitting in my room, worrying.
Death came in and sat next to me.
I moved away.

(Life walked out and spoke to the neighbor.)
Death scooted closer.
I started to sweat, tried not to stare at him.
He laughed.

“What’s so funny?” I asked, by mistake.
“We are,” he said. “Both of us.
Don’t take us so seriously.”
“What, then?” I asked.

He looked out the window.
(Life squatted in the garden looking at a bug.)
He didn’t say a word, just got quiet
and watched.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

April 20, 2020


            Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you.”
         He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
         As God has sent me, so I send you.”
 —John 20.21-22

Meditate on this. Go slowly. Give it time.

He comes to you, present with you now,
in this very room as you read this,
in all your anxieties and hurts.
He says, “Peace be with you.”
You are all right, safe and whole and beloved.
Allow that deep peace to surround you,
embrace you, protect you.

He breathes his Spirit into you:
his love, his healing will, his joy,
his profound trust in God.
You breathe it in.
It fills you, every cell,
every aspect of your mindfulness.
With all your imperfections and weaknesses
you are a perfect vessel for his spirit.
Breathe deeply. You receive it. It becomes you.

He sends you, just as he was sent:
into this day, into your life,
to bear that love into this world,
with humble authority, with courage,
with grace, with mysterious power,
with joy and delight.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

April 17, 2020

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