Another road

              Having been warned in a dream
              not to return to Herod,
              they left for their own country by another road.
                                          —Matthew 2.12

The star behind us, a new year rising,
just when we thought the search was over
and the treasure found, we hear a warning
to repent, to change our ways,
to embark on a new unknown
off the road where we’re at home.

But we welcome it.
This old one was awful.
The year was hard, the way was rocky.
For all the danger and cruelty
we’re glad not to return to
we give thanks for this gift, so needed, from God:
another road.

Thank you. We’ll take it.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

December 31, 2020

Categorized as Reflections

Christmas sonnet

Go seek that other deep nativity,
not sweet, nor bright, but empty, low and rough,
untouched by desperate activity,
where stillness and the longing are enough.
Wait in this wounded darkness, from whose rend,
where roots of death are woven in the earth,
a child emerges painfully, to mend
with splintered hands the world that gave him birth.
For deep in battered hearts, too cold to feel,
where blood and bones and heaven’s veins enmesh,
God comes, incarnate, altered, bound to heal
the brokenness by living in this flesh.
Let God redeem this life on Christmas morn:
let flesh be Word made flesh; with God be born.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

December 30, 2020

Categorized as Reflections


          The word of God is living and active,
           sharper than any two-edged sword,
           piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow;
           it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

                                 —Hebrews 4.12

           “This child is destined for the falling and the rising
           of many in Israel,
           and to be a sign that will be opposed
           so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—
           and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
—Luke 2.34-35

Not the rise and fall of many, but the falling and rising.
Death first, then resurrection.
(The “sleeping and rising” of the sower, Mark 4.26.)

A “sign” that exposes our resistance.
A sword that separates truth from delusion,
action from wishing.

So. Your inner thoughts.
Not your opinion about Jesus,
but your willingness to die first,
and then rise with him.

Let the sword pierce your heart.
Are you ready—today—to die
(once more, and again…)
and then to be raised?
Or just thinking about it?

Anna and Simeon knew the moment
when they saw it.


Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

December 29, 2020

Categorized as Reflections

Rock the child

            When the parents brought in the child Jesus,
            to do for him what was customary under the law,
            Simeon took him in his arms and praised God.
                                    —Luke 2.27-28

The Christ child is no longer in the manger.
The Holy Infant is in your heart now—
beloved, full of God’s possibilities,
warm with God’s gentle presence,
God’s tender newness within you.
Love the Christ child.
And how do you do that?
Sit there, mostly.
Hold the child.
Let the mystery of love flow
between your heart and the child’s.
Like a new parent,
let this become part of your routine.
Give time to simply sit
and hold the divine child in your heart.
Rock the child,
                        rock the child,
                                                rock the child.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

December 28, 2020

Categorized as Reflections

Christmas blessing

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
For a lot of us this is a weird Christmas, and a hard one.
But the good news is God is with us, Emmanuel.
God comes to be near in our dark times.

I thank you for sharing this journey with me,
and I treasure the spirit that connects us all.
Though I know only a few of you,
I pray for you all, that by grace
you may receive God’s tender blessing.

In these twelve days of Christmas
May Christ be born in your heart,
the presence of God with you and within you,
the love of God alive in you anew,
the companionship of Jesus beside you,
the light of God to show your way.
May the Christ child awaken your love,
and evoke your joy and gratitude.

May your Christmas be truly holy,
deep with love and beauty,
rich with hope and joy.

Deep Blessings,

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Christmas morning, 2020

Categorized as Reflections

Rough manger

A rough Christmas, rough year.
So much lacking, so much awry.
We’ve lost the way, lost our center.
Pain and weariness under the tree.
We’re beginning to believe
we need saving.
This is why you come, and where:
in our struggles, to be with us;
in our darkness, to be light.
The rough manger,
you know where it is.
O come, O come, Beloved,
in the hard places
put your arm around us
and stay.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

December 24, 2020

Categorized as Reflections

Like us

The darkness is so near, so dense, so deep,
the sky so blank we cannot keep our watch.
We sleep beside the dying fire and ask
the stars to shine their eyes where we can’t see.

There’s little warmth, or hay for sheep to feed,
nor comfort in our need for love, for day,
for something graced or nourishing to come
our way. And so we plunge our ache, our lack

into each other, seeing there the poverty
our hearts endure, resent and fear, the void
we can’t avoid, but we can shun. And here,
so sure, your Mary births her son, and shines

your womb-light in our night. You dare to come
and share our wanting and our wounds. God, born
in us, you sanctify our neediness.
All giving and receiving thus you bless,

and birth in us your love for those in need,
like us, who hurt and hunger in the night.
As Mary, nursing, knows, to feed the ones
you love is to be fed, and our delight.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

December 23, 2020

Categorized as Reflections

Morning song

The stars have told their stories now
and one by one nod off.
The dark begins, slowly,
to get up and open its eyes.
There is a space where the sun will go.
In the forest the birds begin.
Small things move.
It smells like rain, only something else.
Over the plains something like a bird flies
without turning.
Rising early, a mother to be
sings a haunting song.
The notes rise up out of the ground.
All the creatures know it.
We can’t hear it yet.
The earth holds its breath.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

December 22, 2020

Categorized as Reflections


                  In the North we pray~

Entering winter’s silent grave
we turn toward the sun.

On the longest night
the light calls to us.

Even as winter descends,
light swells.

Suffering and evil abound,
but hope hems them in.

Longest night, deepest unseeing,
there is grace in you.

Something dawning in you

comes to us.

Deep, dark


             In the South we pray~

Heaven and earth turn
each other’s corner.

Light, undifferentiated,
give us defining shadows!

Energy, pure beam,
become matter, opaque.

Word of light, come,
be made dark flesh.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

December 21, 2020

Categorized as Reflections


God, you have shown strength with your arm;
you have scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
You have brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
you have filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.

—Luke 1.51-53

Mary. She’s no innocent naïf, angel-stunned, subservient:
she’s young, yes, and humble, and not knowing the outcome—
but she knows what she’s doing.
She’s heard Gabriel, heard God in her flesh,
dared to trust the incendiary power of ordinary lives,
and to believe the Divine in her,
seized her power to choose,
to be an agent of God’s re-ordering of the world—
and said Yes. Yes to all of that.

Yes not just to having a baby,
not just to bearing grace and birthing love,
but to raising a son, nursing his imagination,
teaching him, showing him, preparing him
for what she knows he can do.
She takes it on.
And so takes on the Empire,
the toppling of thrones, the lifting of the lowly,
the great reversal of evil itself.

Mighty woman. Dangerous Lover.
Divine womb. Mother of God.
Adore her, not on sweet cards but protest posters.
Not with pallid piety, but in the streets,
in the raising of children baptized with Spirit and fire,
in the heavenly upheaval in your own flesh and soul,
in the Divine presence in your plain, powerful life—
adore her. Learn at her feet.
Be her child.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Dec. 18, 2020

Categorized as Reflections
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