“When you grow old,
           you will stretch out your hands,
           and someone else will fasten a belt around you
           and take you where you do not wish to go.”
                           —John 21.18

I am becoming free of youth’s illusion—
dragged about by my desires, calling it “freedom.”
More mature now, I outlast those hungers,
waiting patiently
for deeper longings to well up from God
and lead me where I hadn’t thought of going,
hadn’t even seen.

The arctic tern doesn’t choose
to fly from the Netherlands to Antarctica,
or insist on the way.
She allows herself to be led
by a deeper wisdom
that knows more than she.

Don’t worry, fearful child.
The belt is love.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Feed my sheep

           “Feed my sheep.”
                           —John 21.17

Loving One,
may all that I do today
nourish your beloved lambs.
May all that I say
feed souls hungry for grace.
May all I do
tend your beloved
and show the way to green pastures.
All that I meet are, like me,
thirsting for love.
Give me grace to feed your sheep.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

“Do you love me?”

           Jesus said,
           “Do you love me?”
                           —John 21.15

The salmon of your heart
swim upstream to him.
The roots of your great inward oak
stretch down into him, reaching.
Ideas of him float by, labels, bits of paper,
sticks on the river. Let them go.
He is the river. You are the sea.
Or you are the river, falling always toward him.
Let the great deep gushing within you
come to him, pour into him.
Leave everything else, even beautiful,
on the shore.
Let your love join his love.
Look into his eyes that you can’t see.
Later you will dance, you will labor.
For this moment, let it all be.
Just love. That is all.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


          Jesus came and took the bread
          and gave it to them,
          and did the same with the fish.
                           —John 21.13

The bread we share is not just the Last Supper;
it’s also the First Breakfast.
Also the Great Lunch (for 5000).

The bread we break is the Risen One,
morning, noon and night,
awakening us, strengthening us,
giving himself to us.

On the beach he might have said,
“This is my body, risen in you.”
At Emmaus he could have said,
“This is my body, transformed in you.”
Among the 5000,
“This is my body, multiplied among you.”

Christ breaks the fast of God’s presence.
Everything you eat is breakfast.
Everything you drink is Christ.
It’s a new day.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


            Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach;
           but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
                           —John 21.4

Mary thought he was the gardener.
The disciples on the road to Emmaus
thought he was a newcomer.
Why didn’t they recognize him?
Because he’d been changed.

Resurrection isn’t “coming back to life;”
it’s going on to a new life. It’s transformation.
When Jesus rose, Mary reported it to the disciples.
They didn’t believe it.
They were still in an upper room, behind locked doors.
They had heard about resurrection,
but it hadn’t changed them yet.

Too often I live as if
resurrection has not actually happened.
I am still afraid, still doubting.
Still ready to go back to fishing with Peter,
back to the old life.

I don’t want to be changed. I say I do, but
there is still much I hang onto.
To be raised is to let go of everything,
everything I want to cling to, even fear,
and only love.
Am I willing?
Willing to cast my net in a different way?

Risen Jesus, draw me up out of this life
into a new one.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Earth Day prayer

Mother Earth, Womb of God,
we thank you for the gift of life.

You love us as God: you create us of yourself,
and receive us into yourself.

You hold your children
even when we destroy you.

You feed us even when we are ungrateful;
you unfold us in beauty even when we refuse to see.

You teach us renewal, to give and receive,
the mystery of flow.

Even in our smallness you include us
in something great and beautiful.

O Generous One, whose law prevails forever,
O Divine Word, whose creating never ceases:

bless us that we may belong humbly,
that we may love beautifully, that we may live fruitfully.

O Earth, our Eden, our Heaven, our Hope,
may we be faithful Earthlings,
in loving harmony with you.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Breath of love

           He breathed on them and said to them,
           “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
                           —John 20.22

In the beginning God formed a human
from the dust of the ground,
and breathed into its nostrils the breath of life;
and it became a living being.

In the valley of dry bones
Ezekiel prophesied to the breath
and it breathed life into the bones.

Jesus, once dead and buried,
came to us, entombed in an upper room,
and breathed his life into us, his spirit, his love.
Christ is the Spirit and we are the body, alive now.

           Breathe in me, Breath of Love.
           Live in me, that I may be
           a cell in the living, risen Body of Christ.

           Breathe in me, Breath of Love,
           that I may love the whole Body,
           and all Creation, in the Spirit of Christ.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light www.unfoldinglight.net

Locked doors

           When it was evening on that day,
           the first day of the week,
           and the doors of the house where the disciples had met
           were locked for fear of the people,
           Jesus came and stood among them.
                           —John 20.19

Jesus, Startling One,
my heart is locked against other people
but it is you I shut out.

What am I afraid of?
That you might love me,
love us all equally?

The walls that keep out the danger
also keep me in.
A different kind of tomb.

The doors of my compassion
are locked in fear
and yet you come in.

Even inside the walls,
within my fear,
you are with me.

Clenched doors do not protect me.
It’s my own flesh on the other side.
The Body is real; the wall is imaginary.

Your x-ray love comes through my walls,
joins me with the rest of me,
makes me whole.

Your pierced hands pierce
these doors, roll away the stone,
and set me free.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


           “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands,
           and put my finger in the mark of the nails
           and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
                           —John 20.25

Don’t look for resurrection in the happy places,
the rescued-at-the-last-minute places,
the unexpected successes.

No, look in the wounded places,
where death was not delayed,
suffering not averted,

that reek of the grave,
bear the stab wounds of abject failure,
the rotting dust of powerlessness.

Unless you see the marks it’s a near miss.
Not until the loss is irreversible
is it overturned.

Go ahead, touch the wounds,
hold the shaking body,
dry the tears. Wait the wait.

Only the actual grave, or actual
graveside, admits the light,
yields to resurrection—

no mere recovery, but life
full and miraculous granted
out of utter impossibility.

Reach for the wound, Thomas,
the abyss of God, where the Mystery speaks
“Let there be light.”

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Empty tomb

The women come to the tomb bearing jars heavy
with grief and despair, burdened with fear.
After all, Jesus didn’t die by accident,
or get murdered by a jealous opponent.
He was executed by the Roman Empire,
as an example, as crucifixion always was,
meant to terrorize subjects of the Empire:
If you follow this man you will meet the same fate.

His death was not just his, but
the end of his movement, his community—
enforced by fear.

It’s what prevents us from loving deeply:
fear of pain, powerlessness, vulnerability,
not being in control, not belonging.
But when you pour yourself out in love
you enter God’s infinite life.

Standing here at the empty grave
the news sinks in: he is not here. He has risen.
The women’s hands fly up in wonder and joy—
and the jars fall and shatter, spilling out
all their grief and shame, all their fear.
The message of the empty tomb is clear:
If you follow this man you will meet the same fate.
In love you too shall be raised.
When you give yourself in love,
whatever it costs—even your life—
you will end up with more life, not less.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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