Listen for the One amid the others,
the one who makes your life run deep.

If you don’t turn from this clanging world to listen
you won’t hear that voice.

Listen for the voice that calls you Beloved,
the voice that calls you to love.

Listen for the voice that speaks of Creation’s wholeness,
that beckons you to completion.

A voice that leads you toward others,
not away from them,

toward healing and reconciliation,
not your own rising above others.

You will hear it in stillness, not in frenzy,
in silence, not in noise.

You will hear it from those who are belittled,
not those who are honored by this besotted world.

The Beloved will not speak of success,
but death and resurrection.

Listen for one who speaks with hope and delight,
listen to them. Listen to them.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

August 31, 2020


Bless those who persecute you;
bless and do not curse them. 
Do not repay anyone evil for evil,
but seek what is healing for all. 
Do not be overcome by evil,
but overcome evil with good.
—Romans 12.14, 17, 21

God of truth and mercy,
I see the news of murderers and militias,
of white supremacy and abuse of the poor,
of police brutality and deep injustice.
I hear your cry for justice—
that you love justice, you yearn, you ache for justice.
I have vowed to “accept the power you give us
to resist evil, injustice and oppression
in whatever forms they present themselves.” *
Loving God, how shall I resist?
I open my heart to your passion
for the redemption of all humanity and the healing of Creation.
And I open myself to your spirit, that I may know how to respond.
How do I bless those who oppress, and not curse them?
Help me to know, and give me the strength to do so.
Help me to resist my temptation to repay evil with evil—
help me to overcome evil with good,
you who are the Infinite Good that overcomes evil.
Beloved, in the name of the crucified and risen Christ,
give me wisdom, hope and courage to resist.Amen.

(* United Methodist baptismal vows)

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

August 28, 2020

Walk in the woods

In the woods I listen for God’s voice.
(That’s what I think, but really
I’m just listening to my own expectations.)

The brook is babbling
but nothing else has anything to say.
The ferns are speaking in tongues,
but they are tongues of silence.
The breeze offers sighs too deep for words.
The trees stand like old men at the Western Wall,
bowing back and forth.
I wonder what they are saying,
but they are contemplating,
they can’t be bothered with speaking.
A chickadee lights on a dead branch
and looks maybe at me, maybe not.
Other birds are singing but not this one.
It’s just there.
Little bird, what is your message for me?
But it has no message. It’s just there.

And then, in that moment—
but only for a moment—
I am just there.

It takes the rest of my morning walk
to leave behind all the words and ideas
and just be there with
the One Who Is Present.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

August 27, 2020

Praying Romans 12.9-21

God, may my love be genuine.
May I let go what is evil in me,
and open myself to what is good.
By your Spirit in me May I truly love others:
not just to tolerate them but to honor them. 
Give me your zeal, your energy, the true desire to serve you.
Give me the faith to rejoice with hope,
to be patient in suffering, and to persevere in prayer.
Help me take the opportunities I will have today
to contribute to the needs of those around me…
to extend hospitality to strangers…
to bless those who oppose me— to bless and not to curse them.  

I am mindful of those who rejoice, and I rejoice with them.
I am mindful of those who weep, and I weep with them.
May I be present for them today. 

Give me your grace to live this day in harmony with others. 
I do not need to pretend that I am wiser than I am.
Help me not to be haughty
but to know that the lowly are my peers. 

Give me grace to not repay evil for evil,
but to focus on what is good for the sake of all.
Give me grace to live peaceably with all.
Give me your grace to feed the hungry even if they oppose me,
to give drink to the thirsty even if I do not like them.

I pray that I will not be overcome by evil,
but that I may overcome evil with good,
by the grace of your love in me.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

August 26, 2020

Ocean prayer

O Deepest One,
I swim in the sea of you.
You, one ocean, spreading around the globe,
hold me. I am one in you.
If I swim, what next I will touch is Portugal.
Or, if I drift right, Brazil. Or Australia.
Nothing between me and Angola but you.

I float in your deep green mystery.
I look down into your unknowableness.
I give all of my tiny self to your infinity.
I float in you. You hold me.

This, the meeting of sea and sky,
ocean and land,
water and blood,
this thin edge,
in the meeting, the touching.
I cross over, sinking under.
I am a sea creature, I am sea.

I walk up the shore,
birthed, bathed, breathing.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

August 25, 2020

Fussy child

A fussy child
and wants

inside you.
How can you give it
what it already has

without upsetting it?
Say Thank you first,
Jesus says,

then pray.
This moment—look—
the miracle unfolds.

[Mk. 11.24]

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

August 24, 2020

Joy in the cross

             Those who want to save their life will lose it,
             and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
                                              —Matthew 16.25

Honestly, I confess:
although I preach “take up your cross,”
really, I’d rather avoid suffering.

But there is greater joy
in a deeper well than comfort.
I am not this small thing,
my bliss and sorrow in my flesh alone.
I am one with all Creation,
whose pain and joy is mine.
There is joy in bringing the world
what I most deeply wish for it.
Divorcing myself from the world
I want what is mine, and despair.
But one with the world, in love,
its joy is mine.
The cross, with its pain,
offers the deep reward of love fulfilled,
and the redemption of my wholeness,
and resurrected joy.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

August 21, 2020

Take up your cross

                      Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem
          and undergo great suffering
          at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes,
          and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 
          Then Jesus told his disciples,
“If any want to become my followers,
          let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
          For those who want to save their life will lose it,
          and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
                              —Matthew 16.21, 24-25

We’ve made it impossible to follow Jesus
by expecting our faith to protect our privilege
as if we ought to be recognized as superior,
worthy to be blessed, deserving to be treated well,
given more rights than others, and of course going to heaven.
We’ve turned it backwards. So selfish.
Jesus stands with those who are outside privilege,
denied favor or power, for their sake.
Jesus is not predicting the future here:
he’s accepting the risk of his path,
the plight of the lowest caste.
To follow Jesus—to take up our cross—
is not to tout piety but to stand with the oppressed,
to spend our privilege for the sake of those who have none,
to resist domination at personal cost.
It is to suffer for the sake of justice, healing and life.
The only claim of our faith is not to privilege,
but to God’s grace.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

August 20, 2020

Who do you say I am?

                                 Who do you say I am?
                                 —Mt. 16.15

trickster, teacher, beggar,
on no church wall,
in no good book,
but on sad streets
and in my blood,
you are my unseen neighbor,
my secret self.
You are my divine possibility,
becoming me, so close
I can almost touch myself.
Ruler of my heartbeat,
fountain of my blood,
Jesus, you are my Pacific,
my wind, my sun, my gravity.
You are my victim.
My wound, and my healing.
My death, and my undying.
You are my exceeding of myself,
my becoming of the universe.
You are the heart of all of us,
the One of us, the holy Little One.
You are so tiny in this world,
so dim, I must become you to see you,
yet can’t not see you everywhere,
everywhen, every who.
Jesus, you are the me I hope to be,
the giving of God to me,
the giving of me to all the world.
Jesus, you, whom I cannot have,
yet who are so deeply mine,
how greatly I praise, I thank, I gaze,
I follow, and I join you.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

August 19, 2020


I will be your servant today.
Whether I have important work or none,
whether many depend on me or none,
whether I face harsh challenges or banal chores,
hard work, blissful pleasure
or simple sabbath rest,
I am a servant of love and beauty,
a servant of justice,
a servant of the world.
By your Spirit in me
may I serve
with grace and joy.

August 18, 2020

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