Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees;
           every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit
           is cut down and thrown into the fire.
                           —Luke 3.9

Abandon your cruel cartoons.
God is not coming at you with an ax.

What’s unfruitful in your life?
What gets in the way?
God (hallelujah!) removes it.

What do you do again & again
that doesn’t help,
doesn’t deepen life?
God (thank you Jesus!) gives you
permission to cut it out.

God is not a punitive bully
looking for firewood.
God is a gentle gardener,
looking for sweet fruit.

Let her lop off the dead branches,
uproot the nasty weeds,
clear the brush,
clean up the garden for you.

Sit by the fire.
Enjoy the warmth of your freedom.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Go change

           Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem,
           and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God. 
                                         —Baruch 5.1

When John the Baptist cries to “prepare the way”
we hear the call to change the world.
When we are told to repent
we hear the call to change our ways.
But when the prophet Baruch tells us to change—
he means to change… our clothes?

Well, yes.
Be done with the costume
of those who are not good enough.
Dump the uniform of victims and prisoners.
Refuse to see yourself
in the demeaning way the world sees you.
You are God‘s beloved.
“Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God.“

When you treat yourself like this,
when you present yourself to the world like this,
you change not only what you see in the mirror,
but maybe what the world does, too

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Rough places

           Prepare the way of the Holy One,
                      make straight paths for God.
           Every valley shall be filled,
                      and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
           and the crooked shall be made straight,
                      and the rough ways made smooth.

                                      —Luke 3.4-5

The driveway into my heart is an obstacle course.
My trust of God goes up and down like a mountain range.
The words I say twist and turn around
what ought to be clear and true.
My thoughts are rough, rumpled and pitted and marred.
Roots of the trees of all my desires
have heaved up the sidewalk.

The wilderness where you, O Mystery, prepare a way
is my own troubled mind.
Simplify my trust. Undistort my eyes.
Still me.
Smooth my heart, Love, till you can roller skate there
with your eyes closed.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


           Be on guard
           so that your hearts are not weighed down
           with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life,
           and that day catch you unexpectedly.

                           —Luke 21.34

           The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
           “Prepare the way of the Holy One.”

                      — Luke 3.4

I was away for two weeks.
I offered a lecture, gave a poetry reading, led a retreat,
and spent a week with family. “The worries of this life.”
And then suddenly it was Advent. What? Advent? 
How did that happen?

John Wesley spoke of God’s grace as “prevenient,” that is,
coming beforehand. Grace always sneaks up on us.
As much as John in the wilderness tells us to prepare a way,
we are always unprepared.
Even when we see it coming grace surprises us.
Even when it’s on the calendar God‘s presence is unexpected.
God sneaks into our lives right before our eyes.

So, yes: now and then , at least, shed the worries of this life.
Prepare. Repent. Anticipate.
And at the same time keep your heart open to the sneaky ways
Love has already taken you by surprise
without your even knowing it.

Weather Report

as the low pressure area of What Is
is replaced by the steady winds of
What Is Becoming.
Heed all weather advisories,
though they will tell you nothing.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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