Child in your womb

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the child leaped in her womb.
—Luke 1.41

There is something of God
in you.
It leaps for joy
when it encounters
something of God
in your world.

What leaps
in you?
Honor it.
It will bless you.

Breath Prayer:
God-child … leaping

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

December 17, 2020

Categorized as Reflections

Our longing

How almost we are, how partial, how dim.
Palimpsest of ourselves, rough draft carved in stone.

A cry catches in our throats, a caught animal’s moan,
over-modulated, muffled, masked, miserable, really.

So much that used to be or is not yet.
So much dis-, so much under-, so much un-.

Our clumsy erasures, the crying of our vacant lot.
Yet who we are awaits us, and waits, and waits.

The lost child, bereft, missing the You in us.
How badly we want what we don’t know we want.

Dark One, Empty One, our wound awaits you,
opens to you, the crack, the leaning, the lack. The beg.

Prayed to in us, unseen in us, bless our longing,
consecrate our unease, dilate the emptiness.

Come to us, Holy One, Whole One, Beloved,
come to us, You in us, come, and complete us.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

December 16, 2020

Categorized as Reflections


…and of his kingdom there will be no end.
—Luke 1.33

The little brook flows a bit higher today
after yesterday’s rain.
Some days it will flood, or recede, but
what it is doing will continue
a thousand years from now,
the flowing of water,
this bit of earth giving of itself.

The realm of love will not end.
You are part of the flow; it is given to you.
This is all that is asked of you,
not to change the world,
but to partake in what does not end,
the flowing of love,
and trust your part in the eternal.

Thus is Christ born in you.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

December 15, 2020

Categorized as Reflections

Christ born

You will conceive in your womb
and bear a son,
and you will name him Jesus.”
—Luke 1.31

If Christ is to be born
it will not be in a manger:
that was long ago.
Now it will be in you.
You yourself: be Christ;
bear love into this world.
Dare to believe
that what is holy
may be conceived in you;
that the eternal Word
may be made flesh
in your flesh.
All God intends
is that love be embodied,
and you, child—you
are called to bear this love
into the world.
With Mary, say Yes
to the divine in you.

Breath Prayer:
Christ … in me

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

December 14, 2020

Categorized as Reflections


The spirit of God the Holy One is upon me,
       because God has sent me
   to bring good news to the oppressed,
       to proclaim liberty to the captives,
   to comfort all who mourn….
—Isaiah 61.1-2

The coming of Christ is no sentimental visit;
it is an incursion on our empire of cruelty,
insurrection against our apathy and injustice.

The babe in the manger upends our world,
and asks our hand in its upending,
to resist evil in small, fragile ways.

Some people deny suffering; some profit from it;
and some heal—not merely tending the wounded
but ending the battle.

The Incarnation of the Word is not history;
the Word of Love is made flesh whenever we love,
whenever we act for healing or justice.

The Spirit of God is upon us
to be a healing presence in a wounded world,
knowing the Emperor fears the child.

God comes, love made flesh, tender
but willing, with grace and love,
and occupies our trauma, and transforms it:

in the harsh winter a turning,
on a moonless night a welcoming manger,
at the foot of the empire a dangerous babe.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

December 11, 2020

Categorized as Reflections

Rejoice always

           Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,
             give thanks in all circumstances.
—1 Thessalonians 5.16-18

Seriously? Even with all the crud in the world?
Yes. In the rock-paper-scissors of life
joy cuts sorrow, crushes despair and swallows crud.
Grieve first… and joy comes with the morning.

These are hard days. But joy is bigger than these days.
Joy is not happiness with present circumstances,
but harmony with the goodness of God
and the overflowing of God’s delight in us.
Joy includes the universe,
and all its beauty and sorrow.
Joy dances with gratitude.
Joy plays with hope, which is trust in the unseen.
Joy sings with love, which is self-giving for another,
who is the self—a return to wholeness. What joy!

Yes, people are suffering, and others don’t care.
But some do. Rejoice!
You can rejoice during a pandemic.
You can give thanks at a funeral.
You can be joyful in prison.
You can lament suffering and injustice, and rejoice.
For joy is the healing of broken hearts,
the breaking of chains, the opening of graves,
the coming of God.

Christ does not come to make us happy,
but to stand with us in the pain of life
until joy like a seed rises.

All is swallowed up in joy.

Weather Report

though in our smallness
we think of storms as menacing.
Skies will dance, winds sing,
and the seas play and clap their hands
with the joyful energy of the universe.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

December 10, 2020

Categorized as Reflections

Big picture

    We wait for new heavens and a new earth
—2 Peter 3.13

My knee hurts.
My nephew’s art studio burned down.
My friend Barbara died.
A pandemic kills a million people,
and it’s not abating. Racism…climate disaster…
Advent, the “little Lent,” rubs our face
in our smallness, our mortality, the limits of our powers.

Along comes John the Baptist.
Like God speaking to Job,
John puts our pain in perspective,
and re-frames our focus
from our troubles to the whole universe,
to God’s cosmic work of love.
We’re not just waiting for Santa,
but a new heaven and earth.
Everything, even our deepest suffering and trauma,
is gathered up in God’s redemption of all Creation.

Do we dare hope for such a miracle?
Or should we just settle for Santa?
Our hope is not in medicine, politics, even religion,
but in God’s eternal grace.
Though we can’t see, we can trust.
Our deaths and pains are swallowed up
in eternal love, in infinite grace.
The trauma is real. But the universe is wonderful.

Keep your eyes on the details of this world,
but your heart on the God of the cosmos,
whose only will is wholeness, freedom and beauty.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

December 9, 2020

New earth

We wait for new heavens and a new earth.
—2 Peter 3.13

Tourists came, too,
to see John the Baptist
ranting in the wilderness.
They stood back, eating ice cream
and watching the crowds in their awe,
watching the scholars interrogate him.
They liked the fire in his words,
pretty sure it was meant for others.
They had no idea about
the “One” he was raving about.
They had no idea even then the fire
that sparks us all into being
was falling, already consuming
John, and the baptized, and the crowds,
and the tourists and their ice cream,
and Jerusalem, and the Empire,
and the heavens and the earth,
all of it consumed
in fire and ashes,
out of which a new world sprouts
where we ourselves
are the smallest seedlings.
There are no onlookers to this fire.
If you yourself are not burning,
there is no flame.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

December 8, 2020


       Those who go out weeping,
                bearing the seed for sowing,
        shall come home with shouts of joy,
                carrying their sheaves.
                                —Psalm 126.6

Your troubles, soul,
lament but do not regret.
They are your resurrection grave.

Only a broken heart is strong enough
to walk this path, for only a broken heart
is open enough to receive the light.

Your tears water the soil
of compassion and courage.
They are the flowing of God in you.

Your sorrow is Christ’s manger
where the Beloved lays
their tenderness for the world,

weeping in you, that love be made flesh,
the taking-in of this whole world
in loving delight,

born in pain and labor,
the opening of the heart like a womb,
born as joy.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

December 7, 2020

Prepare the way

        It is written in the prophet Isaiah:
        See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
                who will prepare your way;
        the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
                “Prepare the way of the Holy One,
                make straight a path for God.”
                                                —Mark 1.2-3

God, how shall I prepare your way?
How might I announce your coming?
How might I live to make your coming plain?
How will I think, speak and act this day
as a messenger of grace
so those who yearn may hope,
and those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death
may rejoice?
How do you enable me to live this gospel?
What path are you making in my heart?

How are you preparing your way in me?
Let me see, and hear,
and trust,
and follow

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

December 4, 2020

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