The emptiness of God

When you feel lonely,
longing to be seen,
to be heard, to be touched,
it’s loneliness for God.

The emptiness that cries out in you is holy,
it is the loneliness of God,
God’s longing
to be heard, to be seen, to be known,
Gods’ emptiness for you.

This is the Holy Trinity:
the bowl, the fruit in the bowl,
and the emptiness that makes room for the fruit.

Sit with that longing.
Embrace that loneliness.
In that holy ache
is hidden
your deepest joy.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 17, 2021


         Jesus offered up prayers
         to the one who was able to save him from death.
         He learned obedience through what he suffered;
         and having been made perfect,
         he became the source of eternal salvation
         for all who obey him
                   —Heb. 5.7-9

He was saved not from death,
but through it.

Letting go of my little “me,”
I become part of God’s infinite “us.”
Suffering this continual death
we enter into harmony with God
(you may call it “obedience”),
and thus are made “perfect,”
and saved from the thrall
of our tiny, anxious egos.

Jesus takes our hand
and walks us through the portal.
Even now
he reaches out—

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 16, 2021


         Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
         it remains just a single grain;
         but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
                   —John 12.24

You have tilled the soil of my grave, Beloved.
Scatter me. Let me slip through your fingers.
Drop me. Let me fall
into the earth of you, disappear into you,
great, fertile Source,
womb-globe, garden tomb,
holy darkness.

Let the little me-ness of me die
for love of you.
My husk will fail,
a broken heart;
what is within,
given, urged, born
by your unseeable mystery,
will emerge,
fragile, green, tender, muscular—

But first
let me fall
into you
and die
in you,
Soil of love.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 15, 2021

Ephesians 2.1-10

                  A paraphrase

Once you were drowning in a chaos of fear and desire
that sucked all the life out of you.
You were tyrannized by voices outside of you,
enslaved by the Prince of Expectations,
indebted to The Corporation,
obediently oblivious.
All of us have been there,
slaves to our ego’s fearful desires,
children of anxiety, shards of ourselves,
desperate for our own lives.

But the Loving One, who is pure tenderness,
with this huge, heartbreaking love
gets beneath us in our mass graves
and rises to life in us,
and pushes us out and makes us alive,
arm in arm with Christ,
restoring our belonging at the heart of life
as part of God’s great, holy presence on earth.
By pure gift—no reason but love!—you’ve been salvaged.

God’s gentle kindness—you get a taste of it in Jesus—
blossoms within us with blessings beyond our knowing,
blessings that outlast everything you see.

God has saved your life—trust it.
And be grateful, not smug:
this is not your doing, but God’s.
It’s pure gift, unconditional and absolute;
nothing you do can influence it.

God created you good, and nothing can undo that.
You are part of God’s love made real in this life:
that’s your true self.
Who you are, and the reason you exist,
is beautiful love.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 11, 2021


When you admire someone
you’re exposing something
of yourself you value.

When people yell at you
it’s not about you.
They’re unveiling their angst.

When someone says something cruel
they’re just trying to hand you a wound
they don’t want to bear.

Ladies, when men whistle at you
they don’t want you, they’re just
desperate for manhood.

When you say something powerful
and people dismiss it, it’s their way
of running away.

How often
we are neither assessing nor blessing,
but merely self-expressing.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 10, 2021

Lifted up

          Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,
         so must the Human One be lifted up,
         that whoever believes in them may have eternal life.
                   —John 3. 14-15

Lifted up—made visible, so all can see and be healed.
         Christ, you heal me,
         and I give you thanks.

Lifted up—praised, adored, held up as a model.
         Christ, I turn to you,
         that I may follow.

Lifted up—on a cross: condemned, tortured, executed.
         Christ, confess I am part of your suffering.
         May I be part of your healing.

Lifted up—raised from the dead.
         Christ, through your death and resurrection
         lead me to new life.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 9, 2021

Want nothing

Abandon your desires
and the longing of God rises in you.

Want nothing
and God’s hunger fills you.

Lay down your power
and the power of love

is a hammer in your hand
that is not in your hand, but God’s.

Searching, put away your lantern.
See, the candle is already lit within you.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 8, 2020

Empty sanctuary

        “Stop making my Abba God’s house a marketplace!”
                   —John 2.16

I live in the crowded marketplace,
among its clutter, its anxious hubbub,
ruled by dealers and scales,
transactions and expectations,
by what I’ve earned, what I deserve,
what I have to offer, what I can afford.
Moneychangers change my inner thoughts
into what’s acceptable.
There are things I can sacrifice
instead of giving myself.

The Beloved overturns all that.
Tosses out my moneybags.
There is no fair exchange,
only me, and the Beloved,
and the love between us.

         Beautiful temple,
         quiet, empty sanctuary,
         two chairs
         close together.
         Holy of holies.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 5, 2021

Right sacrifice

        Making a whip of cords,
         he drove all of them out of the temple,
         both the sheep and the cattle.
                   —John 2.15

Let’s correct a few misconceptions
from your Sunday School comic book pictures.
First, he doesn’t use the whip on people.
He uses it to herd the animals out.

Second: he’s not mad. This isn’t an outburst.
(It takes time and patience to braid a whip.)
It’s carefully staged symbolic street theater: a protest.

Third: the moneychangers belong there.
They exchange Jewish coins, acceptable for offerings
or for buying sacrificial animals,
for the “unclean” Roman money that people carry.
It’s how you make a sacrifice.
And they aren’t overcharging.
Jesus isn’t criticizing “commercialization.”
He’s protesting sacrifice.
(Mark says he wouldn’t allow anyone
to carry a vessel through the temple.)

A deep instinct tells us our brokenness before God
can be fixed by transferring it elsewhere—
making another creature (or person, or race)
suffer for us. A little saving violence. A scapegoat.
Jesus disrupts our “sacrifices.”
(After all, we’re not making the sacrifice, the sheep is.)

He doesn’t use the whip to hurt people,
it’s to rescue the sheep.
“Stop this,” he says, on behalf of God.
“I will be the sheep.”

Our brokenness is accepted, as is.

God is the one who suffers.
We break all ten commandments
when we pretend otherwise.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 4, 2021

The Ten Do’s

         Then God spoke all these words:
         “I am the Holy One your God,
         who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
         out of the house of slavery;
         you shall have no other gods before me….”
                   —Exodus 20.1-3

Some think of the Ten Commandments
as the “Thou Shalt Nots,”
the Big Ten Don’ts.
“Don’t do this, don’t do that.”
But they’re not so negative;
they’re the way we practice faithfulness.
They’re the Ten Do’s.

1. Give your life to the One who gives life and sets you free.
2. Trust that God is greater than you can imagine.
3. Let God use you, not the other way around.
4. Let yourself be, without having to do.
5. Honor the world you belong to.
6. Practice anti-violence.
7. Be faithful, and help others to do so.
8. Set your heart on sharing.
9. Be truthful.
10. Practice gratitude for all you have.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 3, 2021