Authority over demons

             He called the twelve
             and began to send them out two by two,
             and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.
                            —Mark 6.7

Beware the temptation to imagine
we must be given magical powers of exorcism.
We are given love.

The demons that plague this world
are not fantastical creatures with shadowy malice and twisted powers.
An “unclean spirit” is simply the fear of being unacceptable:
fear of powerlessness, fear of being oneself,
fear of not being enough, of not belonging, not deserving God.
These are the demons, and nothing more ominous or frightening,
that haunt even the greatest tyrant.

The love we are given
is stronger than all demons, though often slower to work.
Love overcomes fear and loneliness,
exorcises the anxiety of not belonging,
sets people free from torment,
free to join the giving-and-receiving of life.
It’s a slow, gentle medicine. But powerful.

We are given patience in the face of challenge,
courage in the face of injustice,
gentleness in the face of violence.
Authority over unclean spirits

Go out into this hurting world, and know
you are given a power greater than the demons of pain and fear.
Go with gentle courage. Go with love.

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


In the green light of the trees’ stained glass windows
the ferns open the pages of their psalmody.
Patches of sun dance around on the ground.
The breeze talks to itself, ambling through the woods.
On the pond dragonflies move around, organizing things.
It’s a perfect summer day.

Tomorrow it will rain.
Soon enough the ferns will brown.
The time will come when the leaves go into the ground.
The time will come when I go into the ground.
But today is warm and calm. I am here.

In the evening I go out again.
In the clearing fireflies appear and disappear,
not in constant neon glare,
but little



Weather Report

as the high pressure front
of this day
occludes the future
and evaporates the past,
precipitating into moments.
Showers of Presence,
beginning early morning
and continuing throughout the day.
50% chance of wonder.
Your call.

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

Taking out the bug

There’s a bug in the house.
I don’t squash bugs;
I take ’em outside.
This one’s a tricky bugger:
it hops and jumps, scoots fast,
hides in cracks.
I’m trying to be kind.
I wish it would just hold still;
but I get it: it’s protecting itself
from this Big Scary Thing.
I’m after it with my big clunky fingers,
trying not to smash it
or break its legs or feelers,
a Keystone Cops kind of caper,
chasing it around the kitchen
on my hands and knees.
I finally get it. Out we go,
the bug cupped in my hands.
I’m thinking of God trying
to get me where I belong,
and how much easier for both of us
it would be if I would just
allow myself to be caught.

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

Prayer for an annoying person

God, give me patience.
She is an annoyance.
She is an interruption.
She goes on and on.
She hogs my time, oblivious.
She drains my energy.
If you won’t distract her, or at least
give me a nice way to dismiss her,
then give me patience.

Give me more than patience.
Give me love.
Help me listen like Jesus would:
to humbly give of my time and attention,
to listen to the whole story,
to listen for pain that may be unspoken,
for unnamed loneliness,
for the hunger to be heard,
to be attended to, to be honored.

She is a child of God; beneath the flow
of words, life wants to flow,
but needs to be received.
Give me the grace to attend as lovingly
as I would to my own daughter.

Gentle God, you who never tire of listening,
give me the miraculous power of healing
hidden in listening.

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

The gift

You walk out, early morning,
and the first rays slide under
the rosy cheeks of the clouds,
light slanting between the houses,
the shadows gleaming,
light leaning against the houses
casually, like a teenager,
as if the sky is about to say something,
but you realize it’s saying something now,
and the soft thickness of the light,
the light like a voice, the voice of a woman,
a woman who loves you, echoes
between the houses, echoes in you,
light somehow inside you, echoing
with the sky, with, go ahead and say it,
the heavens. Inside you,
in the morning light.

Then the magic passes, but
you stand a while between the houses,
still, looking up into the tumbling gray sky
at least long enough to make known
the gift has been received.

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

A meditation on Mark 5.24-34

            Now there was a woman who had been suffering
            from hemorrhages for twelve years.

Is there something in you that is meant to give life that is not well?
Something draining your creative energy?

            She had endured much under many physicians…
            and she was no better, but rather grew worse.

Sometimes the world around you pretends to have answers,
but they are not life-giving. It’s not your fault.
It’s OK to let go of what the world says.

            She had heard about Jesus, and thought,
            “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.”

You do not need deep understanding or profound faith.
You only need to open yourself and reach out.

            She came up behind him and touched his cloak.

The tassels of Jesus’ prayer shawl signify the power of his prayers.
Imagine that God is praying for you.

Where do you touch the presence of God—
not just lovely sunsets, but a sense of God’s concern for you?

            Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body
            that she was healed of her disease

Most of our healing is neither immediate nor perceptible.
Where in you might God’s grace be restoring wholeness?
What is being healed that you know… and what might be that you don’t know?

            Jesus was immediately aware that power had gone forth from him.

The grace of God is not just an object that you may receive,
but a power, power from God, that flows through you.
Imagine it flowing, even now.

            Jesus turned about in the crowd and said,
            “Who touched my clothes?”

Despite the needs of 8 billion other people, you matter to God.
God is radically open to you.

            His disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you;
            how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’”
            He looked all around to see who had done it.

Sometimes it seems you’re lost in the crowd.
How could God possibly attend to you?
Imagine: God’s attention is infinite.

            The woman, knowing what had happened to her,
            came in fear and trembling and fell down before him.

How have you been healed?
How has God’s grace made you whole and free?

            She told him the whole truth.

Jesus was on his way to an emergency, but stopped to listen,
maybe not just about the healing but the whole twelve years.
Imagine God wants to hear your whole story.

            He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well;
            go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

Wonderful, how he calls her “daughter,”
how he establishes this loving, intimate relationship.

Her faith was not her doctrine, or her belief, but her trust.
It was her reaching out.
Reach out for grace, trusting it will be there.

            Breath prayer:
                                    Trusting … I reach for you

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

The mechanic

I knew his life had dealt him much suffering,
and that more than once he had shattered.
Yet his eyes shone with a deep peace.
Even through his latest crisis he showed
little sense of shame or disappointment.
I asked him about it. He took me to his garage.
There sat an old classic car, surrounded
by a mess of parts and pieces.
“This old thing,” he said, “in order to restore it,
I have to take it apart. It’s a lot of work.
But me, I don’t have to work so hard at that.
I just fall apart real natural.
And just as natural, I guess I trust
somebody’s working on me.”

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


             “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
                            —Mark 4.38

But we are perishing.
That night on the lake they lived,
and later, as always, perished.

A living being perishes and falls
past death, and so past the fear of death,
to the peace of the forest floor,
where sunlight comes only a handful at a time,
the kingdom of the salamanders.
Worms and bugs and fungi reach up to the dead
and draw them down into the realm of life.
The teeth of transformation,
the gut of resurrection, have their way.
The choir of rakers and suckers and chewers
receive the offering, and the song of renewal goes on.

The memories you hold and those
you have created for others, all you have done,
fall to the sea bottom where the priests of transfiguration
take and bless and break the host
and distribute it to the congregation of the living.
We are not given to know
the memories of the perished that we bear,
but we bear them.

Stars know this, and rivers, and saints, and mushrooms:
that all is surrendered,
and all is gathered in beauty.

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

Asleep on the cushion

              The boat was already being swamped.
              But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.
                            —Mark 4.37-38

Despite the panic you do not panic.
In my anxiety you don’t engage, but are asleep,

not just calm, but out like a baby,
as if rocked.

As if even in turbulence you are rocked
in your mother’s arms,

secure in a greater peace,
trusting in a grace deeper than the sea.

Beloved, lay yourself down
in the little boat of my worries,

in my storms, with your peace,
your trust that all is in God,

the boat and the storm alike,
rocked by grace.

You are the boat of my confidence,
the cushion for my worried soul.

Even in the most frightening tempest
you are with me; my inward storm is calmed.

Salvation is more than merely ease or safety,
but to be with you, to go on with you or to drown with you.

Jesus, in your boat, together, storm or calm,
in you I am at peace.

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


We tend to measure our freedom
by how we are treated—
how others allow us to be free.

But the measure of our truest freedom
is in how free we are
to allow others to be free.

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

Your Cart
  • No products in the cart.