Jesus began to weep….
          He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”

                     —John 11.35, 43

There is a Lazarus in you:
someone who has died,
buried in something thick and heavy,
clenched and ungiving as a grave,
a tomb of regret and disregard, perhaps,
or dangerous hope, or fear or shame.
It has been a long time.
A stone of pain closes the entrance.

This is where Jesus stops
and weeps for the Lazarus in you.

And then to this waiting corpse,
the stench-wrapped remains,
this Lazarus beyond hope in you,
Jesus calls: “Come out!”

Not a command,
but a tearful plea to a lost love
to come back,
to return to the One Who Is Life.

Put your shoulder to the aching stone.
The rest is in other, greater hands.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

All Saints Day

I praise the Saints who have graced us:
the Great Saints, Francis and Teresa and the gang;
but especially the Lesser Saints,
those who have humbly, perhaps unknowingly,
shed light in our lives.
I am grateful for the people
who have blessed you—yes, you, dear reader,
who have loved you more than necessary,
who have taught you and forgiven you
and shown you what love is possible.
I give thanks for those who endured silently
and those who showed you how to rise up and shout.
I bless those who didn’t yell at you,
and showed you a new path.
I thank God for the saints whose brokenness,
whose imperfections, faults and failures
showed you what a glorious light can shine
in a cracked lantern.
For all who have helped you know your belovedness
I give thanks, because now you, dear one,
are sanctified, too: chosen as Love’s vessel,
no more deserving or adequate or worthy than others,
but loved, and chosen as Love’s vessel.
May you know with certainty that you can’t know
who you have blessed, but that, like all Saints,
you have.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Monsters come knocking.
Open to them.

It’s dark out there; they’re
glad to step into the light.

Let them in. Feed them candy;
they’ll unmask.

Once you compliment them,
their nearly convincing costumes,

learn their names, see their faces,
they’re not as scary.

Besides, they live here.
They’re your monsters.

Befriend your monsters.
They’re all innocent children,

easily wounded,
looking for home.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Not far

A lone child in the woods cries out.
Seeking you, I am haunted
by the illusion of distance.

My mind chatters on, “Over there!
No, over there!” and drowns out
what my breath murmurs,”Right here. Right here.”

The buried seed still in its casket
is far
from the soil.

Prayer is no effort but the failure of my shell,
so the mighty root hairs
may emerge and do what they know.

Even in my loneliness and despair
the fish of me prays
in the ocean of you.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

First Commandment

         Which commandment is the first of all?
         The first is, “You shall love the Holy One your God with all your heart,
         and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
         The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
         There is no other commandment greater than these.

                       —Mark 12. 29-31

God, you know how I put other things first:
to be right, to be safe, to belong.
I confess. I repent.

I already belong to you, eternally, absolutely.
I am safe in you. I need not earn your love,
or prove my worthiness, or have others approve.

I only need to let the love you give me
become all of me: to love you with all of myself,
every little thing I do an act of love,

and to pass that love to others,
always and no matter what,
to never compromise my love with anything else.

Oh, stand for justice, speak the truth,
say the hard things, prohibit abuse,
but only with love, not anything else,

anything else.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


In the stillness
I enter my own heart
and —wonder!—
I find it is your house,
and I am your beloved child
come home at last.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Purified conscience

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

         The blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit
         offered himself without blemish to God,
         will purify our conscience from dead works
         to worship the living God!

                       —Hebrews 9.14

Here we go again.
“Jesus died for your sins,” right?
His blood for your benefit, right?
This is not a deal,
some arcane transaction
between a pious sheep and a bloodthirsty God.
This piece comes up in Sunday’s Lectionary,
along with a bit from the book of Ruth:
Naomi, a newly widowed foreigner, is going home.
Her daughter-in-law Ruth promises to go with her:

         “Where you go, I will go; Where you lodge, I will lodge;
         your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
         Where you die, I will die.”
(Ruth 1.16-17)

That explains Jesus’ death.
He’s not trading places; he’s staying with us,
even in our death.
God isn’t demanding a sacrifice (Jesus paying the bill.)
God is making the sacrifice, to be with us no matter what—
on the cross enduring both our suffering and our causing suffering—
forgiving and accompanying us.

There’s nothing left in our conscience to keep us from God.
God has promised to be With Us Forever No Matter What.
Move on, then, and let your whole life be thanks
and worship.

The Sage

There is a Sage inside you,
an Elder, a Wise One
whose flesh is of the earth,
whose heart is rooted deep in the Divine,
who breathes with the whales and the trees,
who speaks with the saints and hears the Spirit.

There is a Sage in you
whose wisdom is ancient,
whose peace is a mountain,
whose loveliness is the desire of angels,
who is continually grateful, generous and forgiving,
serene amid chaos,
and joyful in all things.

The Sage is most likely to know
your path before you know it,
to claim your beauty
and trust your Belovedness
before you dare.

The Sage is always silent.
To listen to the Sage takes the same silence.
When you listen,
you find yourself,
without knowing,
dancing to the song of the Sage.

The Joker

There is a little Joker inside you,
playful and mischievous,
who skips and tumbles
and asks impudent questions,
and giggles at inappropriate moments,
whose energy is delight
that cannot be diminished,
who takes seriously
when you are taking
Taking Things Seriously
too seriously, and pokes you in the rib.
The little trickster sees the back side of things,
laughs and points,
sees the child in pompous people
and is not afraid of them,

only of you,
your scolding,
because you are the one
whose love that little imp wants—
and sometimes you care more about
What Grown-Ups Think Of You
than loving your little child.

Your dear Troublemaker laughs
at you and your bullies alike,
and even the devil, for you are all
small and funny and full of possibility,
and grief is a bad actor who forgets his lines
and whose underwear shows,
and disasters have holes in them.

Be a safe playground for that little Joker
who takes everything so lightly
that you yourself become light.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

The Mourner

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

There is a Mourner within you,
whose sorrow is greater than sadness
at what is no longer in your pocket
or your arms:
tectonic plates of grief
moving deep and silent,
crying without tears,
keening without sounds,
weeping for this world and all that is broken.

The Mourner is accustomed to being silenced,
for being feared—that her wails, once loose,
will run wild. But they don’t run;
they walk, steady, tireless, yearning.

When silenced her wails become stones
of meanness or despair.
Hear them knocking against each other
in the voices of tyrants and beggars alike.

Sit with the Mourner within you,
do not silence her,
give her time, and some water,
and a listening ear.
She is your strength and your wisdom.
She is your harmony with the song of the earth,
which is also a song of great wonder,
the song of all living things breathing, hoping,
singing through mouths that are wounds.
But first she must mourn.

The full moon is a happy soul
singing a sad song.
Only that way is she so lovely.

Do not abandon the Mourner within you:
she carries, under her cloak,
power, and hope, deep beauty,
and joy most firm.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light