Go through the door

           Jesus opened the eyes of the man born blind,
           but they said to the man, “You were born entirely in sins,
           and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.

                           —John 9.34

There is something in you that wants to change
that the world doesn’t want for you.
A seed swelling, a wound re-weaving,
something that stirs to be free,
something young and tender that wants to grow.
The world would rather you stay stuck,
stay unwhole, stay hurting.
They write in your yearbook, “Don’t ever change.”
Your old drinking buddies don’t want you sober.
“Stay here. Don’t leave us.”
Friend, go through the door.
Don’t listen to those anxious voices,
even the ones inside your own head.
They only want you to protect their fear
that they too might be transformed.
Listen: the Love at the heart of the world
wants your wholeness.
The seed will sprout.
Let yourself be changed.
Stand by your newness even when neighbors
don’t like it or don’t recognize you.
The rock of yourself stands firm
in the river of people’s wishes.
The Beloved desires someone
other than who the world sees
to marry.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Psalm 23: a meditation

[Here are nine paraphrases and versions of Psalm 23.]

Love, you shepherd me;
            generously, you place my life in my hands.

You rest me in the meadow of your presence,
            I drink from the gentle brook of your peace.

You are my next breath, and the next.
            You are my path, my steps.

The way to life leads through death;
            you go there, and I willingly follow you,

your presence beside me,
            your wisdom before me.

Despite my fears and doubts this life is a feast.
            You embrace me with such love,
            feed me with such delight.

Your goodness and mercy shadow me;
         and with every breath
         I am returned again and again to you.

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Lenten discipline: Allowing

           The neighbors and those who had seen him
           before as a beggar began to ask,
           “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?”
           Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying,
           “No, but it is someone like him.”
           He kept saying, “I am the man.”

                           —John 9.8-9

John tells a long story full of irony and comedy,
almost slapstick in places:
Jesus heals a man born blind and everybody has a fit.
Pharisees don’t think it’s a good idea,
his parents don’t think it’s safe to say it’s true,
friends don’t think it’s him,
and detractors don’t think it’s possible.
Everybody’s trying to make it something else.
Nobody but Jesus and the healed man seem ready
to just let what is be what is.
The story suggests a Lenten discipline of allowing.
Allow yourself to be healed.
Allow someone else to be healed.
Let someone you look down on be healed.
Allow people to change. Or not.
Let people freak out without joining them.
Let someone criticize you without stopping them.
After all, God allows.
God did not command light, God allowed it:
Let there be light.”
Only when there is ample room for what is
is there room for what may yet be.
Loosen your grip.
Stop trying to make things be what you want.
Let there be great letting in your life.
Let God have their way with you.
Let it be.

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Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


           “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,
           but those who drink of the water that I will give them
           will never be thirsty. The water that I will give
           will become in you a spring of water gushing up with eternal life.”
                           —John 4.13-14

I bustle through this world
at the urge of my wanting.
I rummage through my life
under quiet compulsion,
a longing so easily ignored
or twisted into a thousand quests,
the impulse to reach for that thing,
to have, to feel—oh, sometimes
to have or feel anything at all.
A pig, sometimes, wedging my snout
under every promising bit of sod.
We all bump into each other,
hunting, a little desperate. Thirsty.
But be still. Feel its tide.
The pull to root.
A root seeking deeper, deeper.
A panther, beautiful in its quietness,
crouching for water.
A great river of emptiness
seeking its sea.
The nothing that doesn’t want
to be replaced but met.
The hollow you have cupped out
for yourself in me. This thirst,
this scary part of me, is most alive,
most faithfully pointed toward life
—most easily bent otherwise—
but faithful to endure, to lure me
to quit all other reaching,
to keep leaning toward you,
to keep kneeling and tasting
this gift, this partaking, this living,
this, here, now: you,
in this breath,

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Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Strike the rock

           Strike the rock,
           and water will come out of it,
           so that the people may drink.

                           —Exodus 17.6

life will be demanded of you that you don’t have.
Miracles will be asked of you that you can’t do.
Faith will be expected of you that you can’t always maintain.
Hope will be needed, hope you may not have.
This happens to leaders, happens to parents, to friends.
Sometimes it happens with your own life.
Sometimes you will have nothing to offer.
You won’t know what to do, or how to do it.
You have no idea how to strike the rock.

Strike the rock anyway.
The power is not in your power,
not in your strength or skill.
The unseen awaits in the sanctuary,
in the holy empty space of your unknowing,
where you have left room for the Mystery,
in the shimmering vacancy of your willingness.
Strike the rock.
And have a bucket ready.

Listen to the audio recording:

Strike the rock

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

The woman’s testimony

           Many Samaritans from that city believed in him
           because of the woman’s testimony.

                           —John 3.39

On International Women’s Day
I give thanks for all those women, God,
who have borne witness to your grace,
like the Samaritan woman—
the first Christian evangelist!—
women who have been slighted, ignored,
silenced, disappeared, ghosted, betrayed,
yet who have borne witness.
Priests and healers, prophets and leaders,
they have embodied your love.
In their courage, outspoken or quiet,
in their tenacity, their wisdom and their love
your grace has shone.
In their work for mercy and justice
your Word has resounded.
We have belittled them, silenced them.
And still they persevere.
May we honor those women,
listen to the voices of women,
and in their company bear witness faithfully.

Listen to the audio recording:

The woman’s testimony

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Lenten discipline: Listening

           Many Samaritans from that city
           believed in him because of the woman’s testimony,
           “He told me everything I have ever done.”

                           —John 4.39

I don’t think Jesus was omniscient, that he knew
everything about the woman before meeting her.
I think he was just a really good listener.
He listened to people’s hearts, to the unspoken.
He asked questions and let them answer.
May my Lenten discipline be listening.

God help me to listen, to listen like Jesus,
to listen as the sea listens to rivers,
to set aside all I think, all I want to say,
and offer the sacred empty space of listening,
the silence of deep listening.
When I am distracted help me be attentive.
When I am afraid help me be curious.
When I am angry help me be compassionate.
When I am right help me be humble.
When I am in silence help me listen for you.
When I am with others help me listen for you.
May my repentance be listening, my praise be listening,
my prayer be listening.
Even now, Love, I am listening.

Listen to the audio recording:

Lenten discipline: Listening

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


           “Those who drink of the water that I will give them
           will never be thirsty.
           The water that I will give
           will become in you a spring of water
           gushing up with eternal life.”

                           —John 4.14

I’m thirsty.
I’ve drunk, oh, from spigots and bottles
and hoses and fountains, piped in from vendors,
drunk in a thousand places—and still thirsted.
Not my lips, but my soul.
The water I seek isn’t for soup or laundry:
I’m seeking you.
I have no bucket, no special ability, just thirst.
And I come to this spring, bubbling up
from the deep water table of you, God,
this powerful flow, this living stream of water
gushing up in me, given, free, flowing,
your love rising from the depths unhindered,
this power to live with love and courage,
this joy and hope, this clear, sparkling beauty,
this living stream of your life, Beloved,
your eternal life, flowing through me,
not subject to weather or commerce,
or my doing or not doing, but steady, constant.
This is eternal life: not far-off or later,
but here and now, and infinite.
I am the well. You are the water.
Flow in me.

Breath prayer:
Love … flow in me

Listen to the audio version


Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

So loved

                God so loved the world
                to give God’s only begotten.

                             —John 3.16

Oh Divine Love,
open my heart to the depth of your love,
that you give of your very flesh for us;
that you care for this whole staggering world,
that we are so honored and cherished,
and that I am included in your embrace,
that I am so deeply loved.
Give me a heart of trust and gratitude,
and a even portion of your love
for this dear, hurting world.

Breath prayer:
Infinite … love


            Now the Lord said to Abram,
            “Go from your country and your kindred
            and your father’s house
            to the land that I will show you.”

                        —Genesis 12.1

God, lead me.
Give me courage
to be led to a new place
I will not see till I arrive.
Give me trust that you go with me,
that you are my journey
and you are my road
and you are the place
where you are bringing me.

Breath Prayer:
    Go … with me

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