A meditation on Psalm 90


Infinite One, we live within you.
         We are little bits of your infinite life.
You form us from handfuls of mud,
         and we, your handfuls, return to mud.
Life is changing and transitory:
         we will not outlive the grass in our yards.
When we set our little lives
         against your infinite desire for us
         it is fearsome.
We can try to erect monuments
         as artificial extensions of our life span,
         but who are we fooling?

Teach us to be present in this moment,
         to find wisdom in loving presence.
Accepting that our life is passing,
         each morning we meditate on your steady love;
         we embed the day in mindfulness.
Even in the drudgery we endure,
         even in the evil we see and do,
you are present,
         and opening the eyes of our hearts,
         we find joy.

Open our awareness to your loving companionship
         and your miraculous presence in all things.
Our hope is not for lives that are long but deep,
         deeply rooted in your presence.
We do not seek immortality, or greatness,
         or influence that outlives us,
         but to belong in your life.
Our accomplishments are not ours to measure
         but belong in your hands.
May all that we do
         be in your hands.


Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

With all of my heart


Spirit of Love,
I desire to love you with all of my heart and soul and mind,
in all that I imagine and all that I desire.
May my thoughts be kind,
my feelings be shaped by compassion,
my daydreams be merciful.
May my consciousness itself be an act of love,
my mindfulness be gratitude,
my awareness be flooded
with your grace-filled presence within me.
Spirit of love,
may your love in me flow to my neighbors,
to all whom I meet or think about.
Direct me in kindness toward each person that I meet;
may every word and deed be blessing.
I devote my heart to compassion above all,
above being right or getting my way or proving myself.
May I avoid all coercion, but trust the power of love,
the infinite strength of gentleness.
May all anger and resentment turn to forgiveness,
all fear turn to tenderness,
all judgment turn to reverence.

Spirit of love, you are all that is;
all that is created flows out of your love,
bears your love, begs for your love.
May I return your love, radiant in me,
to all Creation.



Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Roadside grave

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo… and the Lord showed him the whole land…. The Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.” Then Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, at the Lord’s command. He was buried in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, but no one knows his burial place to this day.
         —from Deuteronomy 34. 1-6

A garden and a fence,
I know we all want it,
but sometimes the Promise
is not the abundance and security we crave
but an abiding presence
that walks with us
even as we lead others home,
and if we’ve walked with them
as we ourselves have been accompanied
then we’ve known heaven,
and if our steps were hope for someone tired
and wandering, even if we were, too,
then we’ve been in the right place,
and if we’ve pointed someone,
even with unsure hands, toward their wholeness,
then we have made a great journey,
and if on our way we’ve loved someone on theirs
then we’ve rested in peace,
and if we’ve fond belonging
not in a place but a way of going,
and lived on pure, uncultivated gift,
and trusted the unseen companion,
and if we’ve found holiness on the way,
and wonder, even on a road that was
mostly mystery and never finished,
even if we never really arrived,
but never gave up,
then even an unmarked grave
out behind a gas station
at the edge of a desert
with names in our pocket
is good enough.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

The religion of love

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
Someone asked him, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to them, ” “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
         —Matthew 22. 36-40

There are two religions in the world, and every moment each of us is always choosing between them, sometimes waffling back and forth—but you can’t have both. One is the Religion of Being Right, in which there is a certain way in which we acquire life, certain rules we follow, and if we follow them correctly, we secure our survival. These rules may be the Ten Commandments or Shira law or common decency or the properties of crystals or the principles of investing, but the dynamic is the same: if you master the requirements, offer the right sacrifices, do the right thing, you are rewarded—and if not you suffer. In this religion, regardless of how loving God may be, the crux of our relationship with God is that we meet the demands that God makes of us.  The highest value in this religion is to be right.

The other religion is the Religion of Being in Love. God doesn’t make demands, but offers blessing, unconditionally.  God loves us without regard to our obedience or “worthiness”, and swept up by that love we love God and all Creation. God does desire certain things, but doesn’t withhold blessing dependent on our performance of those things.  In this religion love is life, and so rather than seeking survival, power, security and esteem, we seek to live in love with God and all beings. Rather than trying to acquire life by our own effort or even our own faith, we receive it as a gift. There are commandments we follow and principles we observe, but the highest value in this religion is living in love.

You can’t serve both masters. If you really follow all the rules, sooner or later you’ll hurt someone. If you really love all beings, sooner or later you’ll break a rule. Jesus is clear on his choice of love. He often quotes God from Hosea 6.6: “I desire love, not burnt offerings.” The cross is where Jesus takes sides in the conflict between being right and being loving.

Sin, I think, is our instinct to be right, to be worthy, to get what we want, to deserve life, to position ourselves to survive as an individual (or even to risk our life as a way to make ourselves worthy). Love risks all this for another’s sake. To love God with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourselves, is to abandon every other motive.

This doesn’t mean to be a doormat. It doesn’t mean we don’t protect ourselves from abuse, try to accomplish things, maintain good boundaries, get angry and express it, or honor and take care of ourselves. It means that we do all these things in love. In fact, usually when we “give in” to another or surrender our boundaries or suffer injustice or abuse, it’s not not to love others, but to worship their idols: to follow what their religion says about our deserving or worthiness. Don’t fall for it. Follow your own religion.

Today notice when you are tempted to sacrifice being loving for being right: getting your way, winning your argument, proving your worthiness— rather than serving the other person in humble love. Open your heart to God’s love continually pouring through you, so that each moment might be your love song, your devoted prayer, your act of love for God and for all people, all beings, all Creation.
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Among trees renouncing their possessions
linger long enough
’till it’s no longer loss
but an opening,
a spaciousness,
a blessing of the places in between.

The saffron robes, the gold,
the brass bells for the eyes,
the prayer flags trembling in the wind,
the leaves so lightly tendered,
leaping off, loving the falling,
embracing earth, and air,
dropping with delight
into the wooden beggar’s bowl
of this afternoon,
a bare branch reaching
through the light for light,
the many-fingered choir
raising praise to chanting skies—

these simple gifts
are no ascetic urge
but naked offering,
the turn of dying into living,
broadening the room
between our losing and our giving.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

A sticky note from Jesus


Don’t forget–
I’ll meet you today
at that painful place.
(You know I always hang out there.)
Remember, it’s all about healing.
See you there.

Love you,


Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
The Pharisees plotted to entrap him in what he said. “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” Jesus said, “Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose image is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

         —from Matthew 22.15-21

You, made in God’s image,
stamped with God’s likeness,
you are God’s valuable coin.
God intends to spend you
according to God’s desire,
to spend you on life,
on what delights God.
Will you be a coin that has
rolled under the sofa,
or the one stuck to the bottom
of the piggybank, “saved”
but never spent, never redeemed,
waiting for some future that never comes?
No, beloved, be spent!
Let God give you away
and have a blast doing it,
let God hand you over
for the very thing God longs for,
as thankful for you
as a beggar is grateful
for the coin that buys him lunch.
You are God’s,
so give yourself to God,
knowing God will spend you,
and trust this: that spent,
sent into the world
by the God of death and rising,
the God who loses nothing,
tomorrow you will find yourself
in God’s pocket.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
I’m not in these woods to get anywhere
but to be here,
to lay my eyes on these trees
softly changing
radiant with the mystery
that’s going on inside,
to let leaves fall on me,
to be one of the creatures here,
to stop thinking that I see
and start seeing,
let my mind go fritter with the squirrels,
let them all go,
and not ponder being here but simply
be here.

I could sit by the sea for hours,
sit on a sandstone bluff overlooking the desert,
sit on a mountain crag
without needing to communicate or accomplish
or understand or be elsewhere,
but just to be there.

So I am with God:
not to say anything,
or think something,
to apprehend or convey anything,
but purely to be here,
in this now,
in this here,
in this God.

I could sit here for hours,
even in these few minutes,
and all day long I have leaves in my hair.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

The day after Columbus Day

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

When the Lord your God has brought you into the land that God swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—a land with fine, large cities that you did not build, houses filled with all sorts of goods that you did not fill, hewn cisterns that you did not hew, vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant—and when you have eaten your fill, take care that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

?Deuteronomy 6. 10-12

If we are honest in our relationship with the world, we are mindful that everything is a gift; we have not earned anything that others have not labored for; we do not posses anything for which others have not had to sacrifice. If we read Israel’s history, or America’s, with imperialist eyes, we can believe that God “gave” us these lands, rather than that we stole them from native people. We can forget that our goods, our ease and our freedom come from beyond us.

This doesn’t mean we ought to live in guilt, nor should we live in the past. It’s an invitation to humility, gratitude and simplicity, a deeper awareness and a more heartfelt generosity. This mindfulness says: hold your possessions lightly, since they’re not really yours, anyway. Be gratefully aware of the great web of creation that sustains you: the people who provide your goods, the unseen thousands who maintain the world you live in, the creatures who offer, or become, your food. Contribute to creation rather than merely being a consumer. Avoid thinking that your ease is the greatest value.

Resist the temptation of arrogance with the awareness that you depend upon stolen land, plundered goods and exploited lives. Devote yourself to justice on behalf those upon whose suffering or sacrifice your ease or goods depend. Honor those whose land, rights, livelihood, health and even lives have been taken in the name of your country or your comfort. Repent of your complicity in injustice and oppression, and as much as is possible, refuse to participate in such systems.

Notice today whose labor, sacrifice or suffering is someone else’s gain. Take note, and let it return you to humility, gratitude and generosity.

That we live in such a fine land and enjoy so many fine things is neither our destiny nor our deserving, but a gift. Be grateful, humble and generous, then, and devote yourself to justice for those from whom such gifts are withheld by the very systems that so richly endow us. Above all, be generous. What you have is not yours, but a gift, so give.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Columbus Day

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and peace to you.

You will reach the new life

not on the land of assurance
but on the sea of mystery,

not by believing what you have been told
but by going to a place you do not know,

not in speculation
but in sailing off into the silence.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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