What if
the light of the Resurrection was so bright
it blinded Jesus
and you have to take him by the hand
and lead him into your life
and show him everything,
notice every detail for him
with the most loving attention;
and with something other
than his big, gentle closed eyes
he touches
your life, your wounds, your friends,
and blesses them,
feels your tears, your silences,
hears your heart, your hope,
becomes familiar with the little stones
beside the way, the blades of grass,
the flow of your breath
in and out?
What if he doesn’t have to see,
because you are his body?

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Why don’t miracles happen?

Why don’t miracles happen any more?
Because we don’t need them.
Because we’re too smart for them.
We think we’re better than primitive people
who believed in spirits and unseen forces.
Because we have explanations now, and AI,
and there’s nothing we can’t do
so who needs miracles,
or one who performs them?
Anyway, if we really wanted miracles
how could we possibly go back now,
unlearn all we know,
unbelieve all our powers?

Our openness is too primitive,
our humility undeveloped.
We’d have to practice.
We’d have to live in wonder.
We’d have to pay attention.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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A prayer for a garden

God of Creation, all the earth is yours,
and all that is in it.
You have created this soil,
brought forth living things,
and nourished them with sun and rain.
Bless now this garden
as a source of joy and beauty.
Hidden in the soil
is the work of death and resurrection.
May it bear fruit in the lives of your beloved
with nourishment and beauty,
with joy and gratitude, with peace and rest.
May all creatures, great and small,
who draw near receive your blessing here.
As living things sprout and grow forth from this soil—
“the earth produces of itself, the sower knows not how”—
may your grace grow and bear fruit in us.
Bless this garden, and all who cherish it,
that it may be a sign for us
of your beautiful, miraculous, life-giving love. Amen.

A prayer for the Blessing of the Animals

Leader: God of love and beauty,
you have fashioned every creature with your hands.
All: You look upon every creature with your eyes.
You hold every creature in your heart.
So we pray for the creatures you have given us.
We give thanks for animals that give us companionship.
We give thanks for animals that help and serve.
We ask your blessing for animals we love.
We pray for good health and happy life for them.
May their presence comfort us,
their loyalty reassure us.
May the playfulness of puppies and the songs of birds
remind us always of your grace.
May all their differences of fur and feather,
great and small, remind us that you love us all.
In our care for them may we reflect your care for us.
God of all living, in all our different voices,
with barks and yips and purrs and chirps,
and with silence, too, we praise you,
we ask your blessing, and we trust your grace. Amen.

A litany for graduates

Leader: Today we honor you who are graduating,
for you are on a sacred journey.
All: Your journey is not only the learning of your mind
but the growing of your heart.

We celebrate the effort you have given to accomplish this.
And we ask God’s blessing for the journey yet to come.
May God always give you gifts of curiosity and discipline.
May God give you courage to explore new things.
May the Spirit work in you that in all you do you may serve God.
May the Spirit give you grace to do justice, to love kindly,
and to walk humbly with God.
May you know always that Christ goes with you.
We who have made many journeys give you our blessing.

By the grace of God, we surround you with our prayers.
Our spirits will go with you. For we too are pilgrims,
always learning, always by the grace of God beginning anew.

Go in peace, and serve God with joy. Amen.

How like grief

           He was lifted up,
                      and a cloud took him out of their sight.
           While he was going
                      they were gazing up toward heaven…

                                      —Acts 1.9-10

How like grief is our prayer,
looking up to heaven.
How like loss, this longing.

Our faith is rooted in an absence,
our loyalty in a leave-taking,
our religion an emptying
of a grave, of our pockets, our hands.
A religion of grief,
and acquainted with sorrow.

No less than the first death,
again we let go, and let go,
and acknowledge the void.

Always seeking completion,
our lack grants humility.
A broken heart
the cracked seed of compassion.

There moves in us a leaning
both uncertain and sure,
a reaching across an abyss.

Only so is our joy honest,
only so are we prepared
to love.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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The holy One

           I am in God,
           and you in me,
           and I in you.

                           —John 14.20

There is only one thing,
and we are all are part of it.
It’s all love.

God is the holy
the holy Oneness.

The universe is inside God.
God is in us.
We are all part of one another.

Sin is the delusion of separation.
Salvation is being included in the Whole.
Holiness is harmony.

Love is including.
Faith is reaching out.
Hope is trusting all this.

Prayer is paying attention.
Righteousness is joy and gratitude
and being here.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
Listen to the audio recording:


Sometimes God is in our mistakes. At least, sometimes in our mistakes, grace happens. The penultimate line of yesterday’s poem contains a typo. But a pretty good one. You may sit with either the intended version or the unintentional one. That’s poetry. And I have to sit with the mistake. That’s life.

Mistakes happen. Sometimes it’s just the humorous slapstick of auto-correct gone wild. Sometimes it’s just us. We sin without knowing it more than we knowingly sin. Sometimes we hurt someone without realizing it. We intend one thing, but do another. We believe we’re doing one thing, but we’re actually doing something else. Our mind thinks one thing, our hand writes another. (That’s how we write poetry.) We can look at what we’re doing and, fooled by our preconceptions, not see it for what it is. St. Paul says “I know the right thing, then do the wrong thing.” Sometimes a big chunk of life is a Freudian slip. We never outpace our need for confession.

But sometimes when our lives slip out from under our control grace happens. As Joseph says to his brothers in Egypt, “You intended to do me harm, but God intended it for good.” I think of Jesus’ parable about the sower sowing seeds, and some seeds fall on the path and are eaten by birds. How the birds thank God for that. And how the parable forgives everyone, the birds, the seed, the weeds, the sower, the sun.

So today pay attention to what you’re doing. And be aware that life is not always in our control, and that grace happens no matter what. Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Look for blessing even there. But proofread anyway.

What I said in the poem: “the almost rests.”
What I meant: “the almond rests.”

They both work. Take your pick.

Weather Report

as today’s temperature
repents of yesterday’s,
the wind’s erasures
not in your hand,
the sky a palimpsest of clouds,
and life continually
revealing and unrevealing itself.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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On the table by the window,
the light not elegant, cloud-shrouded,
a small yellow rose in an old vase
and a single almond, lying there.
The yellow rose
yellow against the grey
shadow of the bookshelf,
the almond by itself.
Yellow folded within the rose,
and not unfurled.
The light moves gently,
satisfied to hold the almond
and the rose. The rose
does not aspire, the almond rests.

The yearning,
and the peace,

to be as true

as this.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
Listen to the audio recording:


           God will give you another Advocate,
           to be with you forever.

                           —John 14.16

We’re familiar with the image of God as our Judge
(or, if we’re honest, maybe even prosecutor),
but that’s not how Jesus sees it.
The Holy Spirit is your Advocate— paraclete in Greek,
a person who accompanies you in a legal trial.
God is not your judge: God is your defense attorney.

God defends you against all society’s judgments:
whether you’re successful, good-looking, happy—
you know, normal.
And God defends you against all your own judgments:
whether you’re good enough, lovable, forgivable—
you know, worthy.

God advocates for you.
God is on your side, not against you.
God’s judgment is always in your favor,
not a verdict, but a promise:
“I favor you, now and always.”

All those charges against you—
not good enough, all that—
God has dismissed as spurious allegations.
Are you still hanging onto them?

God holds our souls in the light of love and says gently,
“I rest my case.”

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
Listen to the audio recording:

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