Weeds and wheat

Let weeds and wheat grow together until the harvest….
—Matthew 13.30

God, I meant to be a good person;
I wanted to produce wisdom and justice.
How is it I am so compromised?

There is goodness and mercy in me,
and there is selfishness and fear,
privilege that serves only my fake desires.

I’ve been asleep! I missed it,
when my ego crept in
and sowed all this junk in me.

I want to march through the field of my life
and tear out all the weeds.
I want to be better. Now.

But, look how harsh I am, judging myself.
My hands are full not of the fruit of love
but shame and a scythe.

Some of me that I am disappointed in
hides your blessing, wheat among the weeds.
Only you know the true fruits I bear.

I set aside my weapons.
I let go of accusing myself.
I accept myself as I am, weeds and wheat.

I trust you to glean the grain from my field
and remove the rest—
gone, cleansed, burned forever!

May my peace and acceptance
be the seeds I sow
for the next harvest.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 17, 2020


             The realm of heaven may be compared to
            someone who sowed good seed in their field;
            but while everybody was asleep,
             an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat.
—Matthew 13.24-25

The realm of heaven is not pure and by itself
but scattered in this world.

We uproot the goodness of our life
judging it.

Having eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
we’re pretty sure we’ve got it right.

Today will be full of both weeds and wheat;
don’t expect otherwise.

At the end of the day, ask:
what bore fruit and what did not?

The realm of God is like a weed
God has sown in the field of this world:

resilient, thwarting our purposes,
hard to uproot, not under our control.

Only later
will we see.

We have been

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 16, 2020

Awaken me

Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
—Ps. 139.7-10

God of infinite love,
awaken me like Jacob
to know you are in this place.
In strange times, in new places,
in unfamiliar circumstances,
you are here.
You walk with me.
You bear the burden with me:
you, my strength and wisdom.
With me you see with new eyes
and guide me as I find my way.
Though I may journey in an unknown land
your loving presence is steady.
Though I may face difficulty and uncertainty
your grace is sure and your blessing constant.
I thank you. Awaken my gratitude.
I need you. Deepen my trust.
Open my eyes. Open my heart.
God of infinite love, you who walk with me,
give me faith to walk with you.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 15, 2020


Little one,
the Beloved holds you.
The Lap of the Universe contains you,
the Breast of Being nourishes you,
the Arms of God enfold you.
In stillness and contemplation you are held.
In struggle and suffering you are held.
In sin and misbehaving you are held.
Far away, lost and unbelieving, you are held.
Heaven’s Embrace is light but unslipping.
You are free to squirm, free even to run away.
And running, you are held.
The Loving One holds you tenderly.
Holds your treasures, holds your wounds,
holds your deepest self so it can never be lost.
The Beloved holds you with blessing,
holds you with delight.

Your breath alone God does not hold,
but breathes in and out, in and out,
holding you
in perfect love.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 14, 2020

Say you are dead

When I die and go to heaven, I say,
I will see God.
And a voice says, Then die and go to heaven.
Sit until the silence buries you,
until your flesh seeps into the earth,
until your place forgets you,
and even your face does not remember you.
Then the voice in the silence will ask you
         Why are you here?
Just say you are dead.
You will be asked,
         Have you surrendered your earthly life? 
        Have you let go of all your loves,
         all your worldly troubles, wonders and delights?
Yes, say. I have died.
And God will take you up in their arms and hold you,

hold you for a long time,
and say
         Well, then. You have a lot to get used to.
         Welcome to the new world.
And God will kiss you
and set you down
in this world
and you will begin to breathe as if for the first time,
and learn to walk.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 13, 2020

Romans 8.1-11

In the grace of Christ Jesus there is no condemnation.
The Spirit’s life in you is the only law:
you are set free from the death sentence
of having to be good enough.
Instead of requiring us to be good enough
God just accepts us.
Jesus shows us our sinfulness—lives inside it,
occupies our own condemnation—and is accepted!

So we live “in the spirit,” in harmony with God,
not “in the flesh,” as if we are soloists,
under the illusion that we are separate beings
contained in our bodies, defined by our egos.
When we see ourselves as separate, ego-bound entities
we live out of self-centeredness.
But when we are conscious of our unity with God
we let God’s Spirit live in us.
To focus on our individual physical self is death:
we cut ourselves off from God, who is life.
But opening ourselves to our unity with God
gives us life and peace.

The heart that is focused on the self
can’t live in harmony with God.
But you are not an individual self:
you are part of God: the Infinite dwells in you.
In the Spirit we belong to Christ: we’re part of Christ.

So you’re as good as dead
because of your ego’s insistence on living as a separate thing;
but your whole, true person is truly alive anyway,
because the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is in you.
The one who raised Jesus from the dead
raises you, too, by living in you.
Cool, huh?

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

   —July 10, 2020


                 A sower went out to sow… 
—Matthew 13.3

God will sow the seed of herself in you
and sometimes you won’t know it.
Sometimes you’ll suspect but not trust.
Sometimes you’ll believe but chicken out.
Sometimes you’ll do your best to receive but fail.
And sometimes grace will bear fruit in you.

You’ll need to forgive
and sometimes you won’t try,
or try and get hung up on your own deserving,
or get discouraged when the other doesn’t get it.
And sometimes forgiveness will set you free.

God will sow you in the world
and sometimes you won’t belong.
Sometimes people will misunderstand.
Sometimes they’ll dislike you or use you.
And sometimes you’ll blossom.

Sometimes you’ll try to sow seeds of justice
but you’ll do a lousy job.
Or do it well, but folks will resist.
Or they’ll care but they’ll be overwhelmed by an unjust society.
And sometimes your witness will bear fruit.

All of it grace. All of it.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 9, 2020


                  Esau said, “I am about to die;
               of what use is a birthright to me?”
—Genesis 25.32

How quickly we condemn Esau
for not playing the game of privilege and status,
for not pretending there was some supremacy
of one brother over another.
How easy for us who have inherited a stolen advantage
to fault him for trying to survive—at the cost of the lie.
How smoothly we avoid noticing
how our own ancestor takes advantage of his brother’s need,
demeans his life, and lives the rest of his own
with a claim to superiority worth no more than a bowl of soup.

How often do I make someone sacrifice their dignity and identity
just to survive my greed?
How often do I profit from my imagined birthright,
set apart from my darker sibling
by a bowl of extorted stew?

It must be really good soup, huh?
Am I proud of it? Do I know the recipe?
Am I willing to give it away yet?

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 8, 2020

Even when you look away

When everything changes,
you lose the caravan,
chaos juggles you:

drop your burden,
sit and make a little fire of silence
and despite the rush, wait.

The Stranger comes,
sits with you, stares into the fire,
speaks only after a long time.

You thought of what you fear
and what you want.
You forgot me.

You ran off and had an affair
with your secret lover Anxiety.
I’m still here. Always have been.

Let the chaos be.
Sit here with me.
The lions will come again any minute

but first sit still and let me gaze at you
because I love being with you
even when you look away.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 7, 2020

Brother Steve

Since I wrote last two weeks ago a lot has changed.
I’ve retired from the ministry and moved to Maine.
New place, new life, new title.
For eighteen years I’ve been signing these pieces “Pastor Steve.”
For forty years I’ve known myself that way.
But now I’m not a pastor any more. Just a person.
I’m still a minister of the Gospel, like every baptized Christian,
but not appointed to shepherd a flock.
Now I have to find who I am other than “Pastor” Steve.
I thought about signing “Brother Steve.”
I like the monastic sound, the communitarianism, the intimacy.
But still it has a “sound.” Gives a slant. Sets me apart.
Well, I’m a person, not a role. Just one of us. Just me.
Just Steve.

This is always life’s challenge, to become, not to accomplish.
To dwell in our being, beneath and beyond all doing.
I am no different from a monk or a prisoner in their cell,
a great leader at her podium
or an Alzheimer’s patient in a locked ward:
just a beloved of God, living this moment,
bearing the glory of God in my own way.
Find that glory within, and live it out,
free of what anyone thinks or knows of you,
even yourself.
Find the self beneath your name,
God’s secret name for you,
which no one can say like God does:
That is enough.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 6, 2020

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