It does not take—although
it could—our breath away,
this warm November day
that should be dense and dark;
instead it gives.

The park is washed: a tide of light
leaves the day’s bright spine
exposed, the clear sun beached
upon the evening’s shore,
reposed where children each
reflect it, young and pure.
How is this day not old
and grey, but yet a bride,
lap full of wedding gifts,

all tied with gold, with light?
It lifts our hearts, too cold,
and too soon winterized,
to watch our children run
in ribbons through the gold,
the bright gift

wrapping strewn, untidy sheets of light,
across the afternoon,
not innocently laughing
jewels into our laps
until our arms collapse,
and we are warm. How can
this laying on of hands
of light, so late, be right?
What are we to remember
of this gilded not-november
miracle of days?
The oracle of praise
this day of Magi lays
abiding at our feet,
the reason given

for tidings of light,
light piled against the trees and benches,
against our legs and feet,
against our thoughts of sleet:
God has no oughts, but gifts.

This is our tithe: let light
be more than interlude,
life little more than this—
delight and gratitude.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Categorized as Reflections

Sovereign Christ

           God has rescued us from the power of darkness
           and transferred us into the empire of God’s Beloved.
                           —Colossians 1.13

Why, really, do they call Jesus a king?
Christ is beyond our categories: not just a personal savior,
but the sovereign ruler of an empire—
a commonwealth in direct opposition to the Roman Empire
and all human empires of power and authority,
worldly systems of privilege and exclusion—
no, an empire of grace, in which the law of the land is love,
in which the Powers are those of healing and forgiveness.
The oblivious go on, unknowing. They cling to power,
trade pain for profit, but they are pretending.
Love reigns, as immutable as gravity.
Despite all appearances this is the realm
you have been delivered into—
not a state of mind, not a promise, a reward for the deserving,
but the real world. Here. Now.
Trust this mystery. You belong forever to the Beloved,
a citizen of the Empire of Love.
Make yourself at home.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Categorized as Reflections

First hard freeze

Before dawn the dark clenches.
The cold’s brute hammer flattens everything.
The forest floor pulls its leafy grief-strewn grave clothes
up around itself, matted, muted, mattressed,
closes its eye.
Trees are unnaturally still
as if the frost has caught them playing
where they shouldn’t have.
The last garden flowers stand defeated,
heads bowed, blackened, silenced,
the color of regret. My lungs despair.

Then in the sun’s first glance
silver spreads across the frosted lawn,
a wing of diamonds opening.

How would it make me whole to choose
not to love this day
and seek in it always
new kinds of loveliness?


Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Categorized as Reflections

If you are the King

           “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”
                           —Luke 23.37

Christians like to talk of being saved,
but destroy the meaning
when they talk about “getting saved,”
like it’s something you can do.
Listen. If you’re drowning, saving yourself isn’t getting saved;
it’s just swimming.
The definition of being saved is being rescued
by someone when you yourself couldn’t do it.
We are all saved, even Jesus:
given life we can’t create, given grace we can’t control,
given love that can’t be earned, forgiveness that is not deserved.
Even giving your life to Jesus doesn’t get you saved.
God saves you. Even when you can’t swim to Jesus.
God rescues us from our separation from God
by being one with us even when we separate ourselves.
God rescues us from our selfishness
by giving us the love we didn’t have.
God makes of our lives what we can’t on our own.
We are all saved. Rescued. Salvaged.

Jesus does not ask us to be saved.
Only to trust God and love our neighbors.
Not because we can get saved, but because we are saved.

The One who shows me that miracle
is indeed the one who rules my heart.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Categorized as Reflections

An honorable taunt

           “He saved others; let him save himself!”
                           —Luke 23.35

They meant it as a taunt,
but it is the emblem of love:
that one cares for others more than oneself.

It is Christ’s refutation of selfishness,
of violence, of capitalism,
of systems of privilege and exclusion.

Pray that the world may ridicule you
because you are
so loving.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Categorized as Reflections

Only love

           The people stood by, watching;
           but the leaders scoffed at him, saying,
           “He saved others; let him save himself
           if he is the Messiah of God, God’s chosen one!”
           The soldiers also mocked him,
           coming up and offering him sour wine,
           and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”
                           —Luke 23.35-37

No matter how imperious we are
in our judgments, how absolute in our violence,
we are wrong.
No matter how it is scorned,
love reigns supreme.
Despite how it is desecrated,
holiness endures.
Though it is maligned and violated,
the mercy of God prevails.
No matter how we object,
grace is the foundation of the world.
Regardless of how cruelly you are treated,
you, Beloved, are still the chief of our hearts.

We are still eating of the tree,
still convinced we know good and evil,
though we do not.

The cross and the empty grave
are when God calls bullshit
on all our judgments and violence.

No matter what we insist,
or how strongly,
only love is right.
Only love reigns supreme.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Categorized as Reflections

For those who sacrificed

For those who have given of themselves
I give thanks, and pray that I too may be so giving.
For those who have risked I give thanks,
and pray that I too may be so courageous.
For those who have sacrificed I give thanks,
and pray that I to may live not for myself
but for others, not just for my own,
my family, my kind, my country—
but for all others, in gratitude for all—
strangers, all—who have given so much for me;
because we are all woven in one web of care,
one body, one life.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Categorized as Reflections

My power

           The Holy One is my strength and my might;
           God has become my salvation. 

                           —Ps. 118.14

I have no power.
I can’t change the world,
         even my little part of it.
I have no power.

But God does.
Love is the electricity;
        I am the wire.
Touch the world
         and the electricity flows.
Touch the world where it hurts
         and healing can happen.
Touch the dark places
         and light emerges.

But I have no power.
I am only the wire.
God is the power. 

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Categorized as Reflections

The name you bear

           You will be hated by all because of my name.
           But not a hair of your head will perish. 
           By your endurance you will gain your souls

                           —Luke 21.17-19

Though the land go dry or the oceans rise
           you are in the arms of the Beloved. 
Though times my seethe and the air swirl with shouting
           you are being held.  
Though people around you may be angry or in a panic
           the One who holds you is at peace.
Though people speak ill of you
           the name you bear is mercy.
Though the streets may flow with hate
           your heart is suffused with love.
Though people hurl fear at you
           your soul will not be harmed.
Though you be threatened 
           you will not perish.
Nothing can prevent
           your courageous love.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Today I choose

Today I bear witness to grace.
Today I practice kindness.
Today I choose love over fear.
Today I am not afraid to be generous.
Today I belong to the whole world,
       not merely a portion of it.
No matter what others around me choose,
       today I choose to live in peace.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light