They compelled a passer-by,
         who was coming in from the country,
         to carry his cross;
         it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.
                   —Mark 15.21

Hey, you. You. Take this.
         Deny yourself, take up your cross.

Bear the crushing weight of shame.
         You did not choose me; I chose you.

Feel the splintering pain, the rough edge, his blood on you.
         Come to me, you who are weary.

Shoulder to shoulder, hear him breathing.
         Take my yoke upon you.

Torn open, he looks at you with those healing eyes.
         I will give you rest.

Your pain swallowed in his, the world’s.
         My yoke is easy; my burden is light.

Common struggle, boundless. Who helps whom?
         No one has greater love than this…

Where else could you be so near, so entwined?
         I am the vine; you are the branches.

What gift, this suffering, so close, so one.
         Lo, I am with you always.

This blessing is unto death.
         When I am lifted up I will draw all to me.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 31, 2021


         Jesus poured water into a basin
         and began to wash the disciples’ feet.
                   —John 13.5

A basin of baptismal water,
mother’s water breaking,
river of life, basin of tears.

With gentle hands he enfolds your feet,
your journey, your sorrow,
your pain.

He washes away
your fear, your betrayal,
your failure.

He rejoices to do this.
He is tender with you.
He is beneath you. Always.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 30, 2021


         As he sat at the table,
         a woman came with an alabaster jar
         of very costly ointment of nard,
         and she broke open the jar
         and poured the ointment on his head.
                   —Mark 14.3

This day
is an aromatic offering,
this moment
a jar of ointment
poured out on the head
of the One who will die for us
in love
over and over.
Let the fragrance of it
fill the room of this day.
Notice her love, pouring it out,
his gratitude, receiving it.
Though it is not your anointing
the aroma stays with you
all day, into the darkening
of the evening.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 29, 2021


         On the first day of Unleavened Bread,
         when the Passover lamb is sacrificed,
         his disciples said to him,
         “Where do you want us to go
         and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
                   —Mark 11.12

Little did they know (little do we see)
he himself would be the lamb.
It is he, every time
we sacrifice another scapegoat,
every time we blame,
every time we oppress.

Little did they know (little do we see)
he would not just remember the Passover—
liberation from oppression—
but re-enact it.
We still cry for deliverance from our Egypt—
racism, gun violence, legislated poverty….

Don’t just remember the Passover;
make the journey.
Stop killing the lambs.
Let the oppressed go free.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 25, 2021

Surely not I

         Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me,
         one who is eating with me.”
         They began to be distressed
         and to say to him one after another,
         “Surely, not I?”
                   —Mark 11.18-19

Who crucified Jesus?
Surely not I.

No one did.
No one, no disciple,
no priest, no bystander,
no Pilate, no soldier,
no Jew, no one.
Who crucified him,
with nails paid for by everyone’s taxes?
We all did.
We all do.

Who held slaves?
Who failed to bring forth justice?
Surely not I….
Yes, we are all guilty,
guilty of sins we can’t prevent.
The food you eat, the fuel you use,
even the most generous act,
links with another’s pain.
To be part of the living web
is to cause death and suffering.

For all of this we are absolutely guilty,
and in chronic, denied grief.
And for all of this
we are absolutely forgiven.

This is the hard, awful, absolute
good news.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 26, 2021

Coming kingdom

               Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Holy One! 
               Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
         Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
                   —Mark 11.9-10

Friend, don’t get sentimental about this.
To wave our palms is to rebel.
There is a king already,
who does not take kindly to this upstart.
There is an empire already,
the dominion of Self,
the kingdom of the habitual, the popular,
the Dominant Culture.
To wave your palm is to pledge allegiance
to a different realm, to take a different way—
not just during this parade
but every moment, every choice of your life.
You will pay for it.
To bless the Humble One is to risk his fate.
To cry this Hosanna is to take up your cross.
Don’t wave that palm
unless you mean to resist,
and you’re ready to be labeled subversive,
and to be punished for it.

If you do, cry out:
Hosanna—save us!
Hosanna in the highest heaven.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 24, 2021


               Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Holy One! 
               Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
         Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
                   —Mark 11.9-10

“Hosanna“ doesn’t mean “Hooray!”
It means “Save us!“
It’s not a cry of triumph,
it’s a plea in desperation.
Of course, aimed at a leader who can protect us,
it becomes an affirmation.
Our Hosannas signify victory
only because Jesus has saved us
in our desperate weakness.
This is no time to strut
but to kneel,
to bare our tender need,
in honest pleading
that we still need saving,
and in awe and gratitude
for the grace we are continually given.
Maybe “Hosanna” is more like
“Wow! Thanks. We needed that”
on steroids.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 23, 2021


A procession through the streets.
Crowd riled up,
peasants crying out.
Lots of symbolism:
royal power, humility.
Chatter among the onlookers.
Who is this? What is his story?
Murmuring of a king.
The One Who Is There.
Momentous, yet promising
more to come.
A current of fear and wonder,
a current of shifting loyalties,
a river changing course.
Shouting. Passion.
An energy moves through the crowd,
a wave, a disturbance,
like ocean waves,
crashing in, washing out.
The feeling of being caught up, carried,
We wield our palm branches,
our crowns of thorns,
shout out with the crowd,
The waves move through us,
the river, sparkling, flows.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 22, 2021

Clear heart

         Create in me a clean heart, O God,
         and put a new and right spirit within me.
                   —Psalm 51.10

amid the clutter within me
I hollow out a clearing
where you might create
a clear heart,
transparent to your grace,
a new spirit,
breathing your life,
your love, your light.
What I have made and managed,
even what I have worked so hard on,
I sweep aside.
Breathe me into me.
In stillness I clear the space.
Create in me a clear heart, O God,
and put a new and faithful spirit within me.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 19, 2021

Begotten not made

         Those who love their life lose it,
         and those who hate their life in this world
         will keep it for eternal life.
                   —John 12.25

Your name tag, your selfie,
your bio, the word on the street,
and most, the idea of you in your head—
they are lies. Disdain them.

The life you give away,
the self you didn’t become yourself,
a gift from God
(for free, but
only with some dying)—
trust that.

Self-made life is already dead.
The gift of God lives
as long as God,
and as deep.
Receive it.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 18, 2021

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