I am this tree
opening to your light
settling in my branches.

I am this meadow
filling with your autumn rain.
Later something green will rise.

I am this street.
You will walk up and down me all day
and I will become glorious.

I will be your vessel this day,
receiving your word
whispered in these other bodies,

patiently seeking
your glory formed as
these hearts, these lives.

I will look for the gleam
of your treasure
hidden in their fields.

Weather Report

as warm air, moist with divine presence,
showers us with storms of grace,
and clearing,
air thick with light.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 16, 2020

A funny scene

Here’s a little early Jewish comedy.
Moses says to God,”Show me your ways.”
So God says, “Relax. I’ll be with you.
Moses says, ”Look, if you won’t be with us, just tell me.
I mean that’s our schtick, right? You’re with us, right?”
And God says, “Relax. I will, don’t worry.”
Moses whines even more.
”Yeah, but show me. Let me see your glory.”
God says, “What, are you telling me what to do?
I will be good to whom I will be good.
Now, then. You don’t get to see my face. That’s not in the deal.”
Moses gets to see God’s backside.

Pretty funny, the way we whine,
the way we insist on our own way
even with God.
We’re too busy whining to hear God’s promise
to be with us forever no matter what,
too worked up to notice God here, always.

The irony is that we never actually get to see God’s backside.
God never turns away from us.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 15, 2020

Not the emperor’s

         Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s,
and to God the things that are God’s.
—Matthew 22.21

I am not the emperor’s.
I owe him nothing.
Not my loyalty, my obedience, or my belief;
not my niceness, not my polite agreement,
not even my cooperation.
He does not own my hope;
and can’t even lay hands on it.
He does not rule my freedom,
my power or my joy.
His is not the truth,
nor the way, nor the life.
The emperor, desperate bully
gentlemanly dressed,
has no claim on me at all.
I am wholly and irretrievably God’s.
No one can snatch me from the Beloved,
the emperor’s loyalists can’t contain me,
nor can his proud boys drive me
from the cause of justice.
I belong wholly to God,
who by God’s own gracious choice
belongs to the poor.
Today I freely and joyfully
give myself to God,
and God alone.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 13, 2020

Hushed theater

…give to God what is God’s.
—Matthew 22.21

Loving One,
I confess: all day long,
and even in my quiet morning prayer,
I am obsessed with myself:
what I have to do:
roles to play, tasks to accomplish,
the way I “ought” to be.

Instead I surrender to you all thought of myself,
and gaze on what you are doing in me.

I am not the Movie of Myself.
I am the hushed theater where you appear.
May I clear the stage
for you to tell your story,
and hold the silence in which you sing.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 13, 2020

The persistence of gentleness

             Let your gentleness be known to everyone.
—Philippians 4.5

A butterfly in a storm.
Candle that won’t go out.
Light moving through harsh wind.
Spirit in you, alive, gentle.

In the face of brutality,
under threat,
bearing the weight of rage,
resolutely gentle.

What Satan can’t fight,
the emperor can’t comprehend,
what crumples the power of evil,
gentleness borne of love and hope.

Soft music beneath all the noise,
wafting through the battle,
tuning hearts invisibly,
the song of gentleness.

The Beloved bears you up
with hope and joy undaunted,
music and light moving through you,
walking on, walking on.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 9, 2020

Heavenly body

I am at peace
only as long as I ignore
the churning within,
the two angels
longing for each other
as separated lovers,
sea and shore overreaching,
heaven and earth
each pining for the other.

Only when they both
open their eyes
and let the other’s beauty
flood them,
let themselves see
the alien of each in me
both, not merely me but
stone, stars and all nations,
rightly imperfected in the other,
perfectly impurified
with one another’s grace,
reaching made embrace,
loving without owning
made having,
in this heavenly body,
am I finally

at peace.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 12, 2020


you are an empty vase
on a bare table.
Time and absence
settle, silent,

God comes
and puts flowers in the vase.


are the flower
of aloneness
in the vase
of God.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 8, 2020

Golden calf

             He took the gold from them, formed it in a mold,
             and cast an image of a calf;
             and they said, “These are your gods, O Israel,
            who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”                                       
—Exodus 32.4

Panicked, trying to make sense
of loss, change, threat,
they turned, of course, to the familiar,
something solid, secure, visible,
looking good—a little gold is always nice.

Easy things we turn to:
productivity, respectability, success.
Something to show.
Having it, or at least the image of having it.
Easy to worship our own Stuff.

What’s yours?

But God freed us from slavery
to our stuff.
We were looking for a way
through our troubles, back to normal.
But Inexorable Love
won’t lead us back, but onward.
Probably to more troubles.
But free. Even from our own stuff.

Wilderness. A way without a path.
Nothing but the love
that will never let go of us,
so we can let go of our stuff,
and go.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 7, 2020

Party dress

               “Friend, what are you doing here
                 not dressed for a wedding?”
—Matthew 22.12

God has married us,
and this life is a party,
a celebration of God’s loving faithfulness to us,
and you’re invited—actually, dragged in—
not because you’re on some short list,
but because you’re alive.
Like it or not, here you are.

But, look. It’s not so serious.
It’s for joy!
It’s a celebration of love, this life.
Are you ready to party?
Are you prepared to rejoice?
Are you dressed for it?
It doesn’t have to be your best dress.
But dress like you care
and aren’t just here to snarf the free food.

Forget all the reasons not to;
be committed to celebrate,
to practice gratitude, humility, and respect,
to honor the love of God.
Put on something nice—
but something you can dance in.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 6, 2020

Prayer for hope

After the fire, the greening.
After the death, the rising.
God of mercy, give me faith.

Despite the insult, the beauty.
Despite the wound, the wholeness.
God of healing, give me grace.

Within the sorrow, the joy.
Within the trouble, the way.
God of light, give me peace.

Beneath the noise, the silence.
Beneath the earth, the seed.
God of truth, give me hope.

Amidst the prisoners, the presence.
Amidst the cruel, the witness.
God of justice, give me courage.

Beyond despair, the wisdom.
Beyond defeat, the power.
God of love, give me love.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

October 5, 2020