God’s ache

The bee needs the flower,
the flower needs the bee.

Sometimes a child just needs his mother to hold him.
Sometimes a mother just needs to hold her child.

Sometimes we need to be held.
Sometimes God needs to hold us.

The pleading is quiet, but deeper than time—
the ache, the space in her open arms.

The fragrance of the flower,
the restlessness within, God’s longing.

What a gift, that the flower opens and waits,
the child rests in the mother’s arms.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Martin Luther King Jr. Day prayer

God of love and justice,
I praise you for the wonder and beauty
of the diversity of the human family.
And I confess my fear of the gift,
my buried, subtle bias against people of color,
my preference for what is white and familiar.
I confess all my sin, including racism.
I confess my silence in the face of injustice.
Forgive my sin, and transform it.
Heal my fear, and open my eyes.
Give me humility to admit when I am biased,
and honesty to be a learner
when I’m not sure what to do or say.
Help me be aware of my privilege
and steward it with humility and compassion.
Give me courage to take risks,
to bear witness, to speak out against injustice.
God, grant me the joy of living in harmony with Christ,
by the grace of your Holy Spirit. Amen

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


and enjoy.

and receive.

Journey inward,
journey outward.

Know you are one with all things,
and keep good boundaries.

Give yourself,
and take care of yourself.

How you do what you do matters.
And it’s not about you.

Sing the song.
Be still.

You are part of God.
You are not God.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Come and see

           They said, “Where are you staying?”
           He said, “Come and see.”
                           —John 1.38-39

Keep seeking, and remember:
it is not enough to know.
Come and see.

Open your other eye.
Enter in, sink deep,
attend, as if being caressed.

Come like a bee to a flower,
see like darkness sees light,
listen like the sea listens to a river.

Ice on the bridge.
A child’s silence.
A deep sigh in the ICU.

The smallest act of forgiveness.
Listening to someone
like the earth listens to a seed.

A wound that hurts and also
knows how to heal.
The sound of earth breathing.

Unearned hope, unjustified joy.
The thread in you that reaches out
to the stranger, the bird, the dream.

The holy of holies is vacated.
Where is the Beloved now?
Everywhere else.

Come and see.
Come closer.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


           “What are you looking for?”
                           —John 1.38

A nuthatch works its way down the trunk.
A seagull angles across the wind,
looks left and right, left again.
People click through channels, scroll on phones.
Too warm in January: already
green spikes come up through the earth.
The river noses its way through the marsh.
People walk, bundled, one or two at a time,
down to the end of the road, and back.
A bar-tailed godwit flew 11 days straight,
Alaska to Tasmania. 750 miles a day.
The highways are crammed.

What are we looking for?
Life, maybe. Home.

Never stop asking.

How often do we forget?
On the way to the ocean
you find a dime, and turn around.
What are we looking for?

Maybe not what at all.


Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Lamb of God

           “Here is the Lamb of God
           who takes away the sin of the world!”

                           —John 1.29

Not a sacrificial lamb,
killed to appease a demanding god,
but a divine shepherd turned sheep,
to be one of us,
vulnerable, mortal, fearful, divine,
who knows abandonment and loneliness,
who knows what it is to not know—
erasing all distance between us and God,
negating all separation:
taking away the sin of the world.

Lamb of God, Gentle One,
O lowly creature,
O Slaughterable Lover,
walk with us in your tender risk.
Offer us your fragile flesh and blood.
Stay with us,
and take away our isolation.
You, our Isaac whom we will sacrifice,
stay with us, Love of God,
precious Lamb.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Winter pond

On the black still pond
big flakes drift down.
In the water
their reflections rush up
to meet them
perfectly at the surface,
a black garden of white stars
shooting upward.

Our little prayers rise up
to meet the great ones
that have descended
so far to us.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


           Magi from the East came to Jerusalem,
           asking, “Where is the child
           who has been born king of the Jews?

                           —Matthew 2.1-2

The magi did not find the holy child in Jerusalem,
but among peasants, in a little town like all the towns
they had just passed through.

On my morning walk the icy rain whispered,
the dead leaves under the ice proclaimed,
my breath shone.

What if the divine unveiling awaits you,
the revelation ready to astound you
in every little ordinary thing?

A plant on a windowsill,
a child in the hallway may reveal to you
what words can’t convey.

Not spoken but given,
not a theorem but a presence,
not wisdom but being.

For Jesus it was lilies, and birds,
a stranger’s daughter, muddy Jordan water
and the air above the water.

What if glory hides, poorly disguised,
in a stone, a door, a question,
a word, a look, a silence?

Your heart is already searching,
the world is already holy,
the child is already here.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Baptism of Jesus

           Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan,
           to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying,
           “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
           But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now;
           for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.”

                           —Matthew 3.13-15

Did Jesus need to repent?
Yes. We all do, every moment.
Even Yo-Yo Ma needs to tune up.
To repent is to turn to God.
It’s not a one time thing.
We need to turn with every breath,
keep tuning in, tuning up with every note.

Jesus let his self-centered self drown
and be raised as a new person
with a new name, Beloved,
and he devoted his life to living that way:
that dying and rising each moment,
vulnerable to the Spirit’s leading,
in tune with God,

           We have been buried with Christ
           by baptism into death,
           so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
           by the glory of God, so we too
           might walk in newness of life.

                      —Romans 6.4

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


beneath my breathing,
beneath my heartbeat,
fundus of my being,
Word of the merest nerve impulse,
you are.

I am immersed in you.
I float deep in your blue-green silence,
your amniotic presence.

My singular “I” drowns;
I am birthed into you,
this singing light,
from womb to womb.

Fed on your umbilical love I rise.
I hear your voice, hymn of my life:
“You are my child,
my Beloved,
in whom I am well pleased.“

Now I am alive.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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