Three dwellings

           Peter said to Jesus,
           “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here;
           let us make three dwellings…”

                         —Mark 9.5

The first is the booth of Seeing:
knowing what’s going on,
understanding, placing everything
where it belongs on our Map of Things.
      Instead there is light
      too bright to see in.

The second is the house of Certainty:
knowing there is a law about this,
knowing we are right,
and that we know all there is to know.
    Instead there is a cloud of unknowing,
    thick as ignorance and even doubt.

The third is the temple of Control:
in which our powers are enhanced
and in the end we will have deserved this.
    Instead there is not congratulation
    but instruction: “Listen to him.”

There are no booths,
only a clearing
where the Beloved enters
a barely discernible path,
     the path of mystery,
     the path of wonder,
     the path of trust.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Six days later

           Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John,
           and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves.

                         —Mark 9.2

What’s six days earlier is what this story is about:
Jesus pointing to the cross.

Six days is a bit short, not a full week yet, without a seventh day,
a darkness-and-light, radiance and shadow, a dying and rising.

Jesus accepted the cross; Peter objected.
But God says, “Listen to him.”

This is not just glory,
this is the light of Easter.

Lit by the light of resurrection,
go the way of the cross.

The Risen One
is ready to be crucified.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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It began as ordinarily
as a brilliant sunrise ought to:
huge, lazy salmon swam through the trees
flaming on the horizon,
the eyebrows of the eastern sky
raised as if it was about to say
something magnificent,
and then the flamboyant sun,
everything on fire with flushed cheeks,
everything a gleaming treasure,
you just wanted to take its face in your hands
and kiss it—
and then a cloud, and it went suddenly grey,
gold and peach drained
into shabby bits and shadows,
the poorly erased side of a barn,
the scumbled trunks of trees,
the colors of dead grass and sidewalks.
And that—that—was the miracle:
all that light pressed into dull things,
all that glory shrunk down
into ordinariness,
all of heaven hidden in earth,
something vast contained,
in what I now behold
moment by moment:
the hand, the table, the door,
the person at the door.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Hard going

A heavy snow has rendered the land
in black and white,
the woods in thick cloaks,
every tree and branch broken, bent or bowed,
the path obscured by snow-piled limbs,
trees down, landmarks smudged and wrong.
Overburdened branches crack and fall,
and sigh, and settle and return to silence.
I go over them, or around.

Hard going.
The world looms, its plunderings,
the way it has me turn aside,
its strange beauty, its knee-deep weight,
presses against me.
I would turn back, but this is the way.
This belabored path
takes me home.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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A snowflake lands
on this hemlock needle

Tree, needle, flake and I
with our own life spans

I behold them
flake and needle holding onto each other

with what must be something like

Weather Report

intermittent and passing,
until it becomes clear
that only love
and not its objects
remains forever.

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

Deserted place

           In the morning, while it was still very dark,
           he got up and went out to a deserted place,
           and there he prayed.
           And Simon and his companions hunted for him.

                         —Mark 1.35-36

Find yours.
A dark place, a place of not seeing or knowing.
A place of solitude
free of anyone else’s voice,
no judgments, no expectations.
A place of soul-itude, where you are just your soul,
not your history or your choices,
not your personality, your values,
or even your memories.
Just your Being,
which is in God.

All those other things, release to God.
Your feelings, ideas, beliefs,
even your prayers,
leave them with God.
Allow yourself to be nothing other
than that little part of The Infinite
which is You.
In that emptiness, that deserted place,
listen. Wait. Be.
Let this mystery be enough: that you are being.
The All, the Whole, is also being, with you.
God is holding you.
Like a babe in mother’s arms, just be there.

When you’re ready for the next step,
be there for God.

On your way out you can pick up your things.
But know this: having been in God’s hands,
they will have been changed.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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           Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever.
           He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up.
           Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

                         —Mark 1.30-32

You needn’t save the world.
It might just be a fever
someone has, of flesh or heart,
a little thing.

The world around you
cries out for healing.
Possibly someone near you.

Take their hand.
Lift them up.
Receive their gifts.

This torn world is mended
one stitch
at a time.

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


There is no one right way.
Follow my footprints in the snow
on the path I made
through the woods to the pond.
Twice the prints wander off
where I took photographs.
Once a snow-bent branch blocked the way,
so I went around.
And here, yes, I forgot where I was going
and started off toward the west, then came back.
Walk where you will and find the pond.

You have come this far.
You have sometimes taken a long way around,
followed the wrong hints.
You’ve discovered detours and short cuts.
There were no dead ends:
here you are.
Don’t kick yourself for what you think of as mistakes.

The question is not, Were you right?
The question is: What did you see?
What did you learn?

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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Postcard from God


Know what I saw today? Ice sleeves on black branches. A kid banging her bag against her knees at a school bus stop. A little desert lizard. A volcano murmuring in its sleep. A heap of bricks in Gaza, some color on them. Birds in a small garden. Women weeping. Stars above dark, dark earth. Don’t regret where you are, or the places you seek. I’m there, too.


Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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           And the unclean spirit,
           convulsing him and crying with a loud voice,
           came out of him.

                         —Mark 1.26

Demons don’t leave easily.
Power tightens its grip.
There are recriminations. Harsh words.
Withdrawal symptoms.

Letting go of old habits,
slipping torturous comforts,
shedding false assurances, inner bullies—
they drag their hooks on the way out.

Sometimes doubt and tension,
resistance, even a little ripping,
might be what it feels like
being torn up out of the grave.

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

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