Sighs too deep for words

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         We do not know how to pray as we ought,
         but the Spirit intercedes
         with sighs too deep for words.

                  —Romans 8.26

I do not know how to speak.
I let go of my words.

I do not know how to listen.
I unclasp the silence.

I do not know how.
I do not know.

I rest in you,
and you pray in me.

Even what I hear is not your words
but your sighs too deep for words.

and amen.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Loving the other

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in other languages,
as the Spirit gave them ability.

—from Acts 2.3-11

Other languages. Real languages. The disciples, who spoke Aramaic (and with an accent) suddenly were able to speak in other people’s languages. The true miracle and gift of Pentecost is not ecstatic prayer, but conveying love by bridging differences, by reaching out to the Other. Whatever separates us is the place where the miracle of Pentecost happens.

We tend to see other people as reflections of our own self-image. The more shallow our self-understanding, the harder is is for us to see ourselves in the other, and the less easily we identify with people who are different— in culture, age, religion, sexual identity, politics, life style, mental health, legal status and so on. So we segregate ourselves from people who differ from us. We don’t treat them as beloved people, we treat them as projections of our likes and dislikes of ourselves. They become to us little more than shadows of our fears about our own vulnerability, imperfection, mortality and acceptability. Sexism, racism, and all our prejudices are rooted in this fear.

But God’s love reaches out to the other; it enables me to love one who is not-me. God’s Spirit in us helps us to bridge the divide, to put to death our self-centeredness, to let go of our desire to have the other person make us feel secure, powerful and esteemed, and instead to notice and care about the other person. This is what it really means to love our neighbor. It’s to bridge differences and love the other, to speak someone else’s language. We may not need to do it linguistically, but we need to do it in our hearts. What makes the church one is not that we are all the same, but that we are all different, and we love each other. After all, part of God’s mystery is that God comes to us as the stranger, the outsider, the Other.

May the Spirit give you the language of love.


Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away,
         for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you;
         but if I go, I will send him to you.”

                  —John 16.7

God has a weird sense of intimacy.

Jesus embodies God’s love for us, but he’s a human being. The love he wishes for us is not just his own limited, human love, but God’s infinite, divine love. For us to really allow God to embrace us fully, for us to let God fill us fully from the inside, Jesus knows he has to get out of the way. We have to let go of him. We have to let go of our memories and expectations of God in order to be open and ready for the next, even deeper encounter. We have to let go of our experience of God to meet God.

We are so deeply attached to our sensations of God, our images of God, our feelings, our understanding and even our sense of God’s presence, that sometimes God withdraws that sense—and even withdraws that form of God’s presence—so we can be free of those sensations we’re attached to, to get beyond our ideas and feelings about God and actually be with God.

Sometimes the way this feels is that God is absent. Like when the risen Jesus, who is not subject to death, and therefore ought to be able to hang around forever, leaves anyway. But God is not absent. God is just changing our awareness. Sometimes our sense of the absence of God is a sign that God is giving us a new way of knowing God. It may never be as easy and feel-good as it was to just hang with Jesus. But it will be deep and true. God will be there.

Be ready to let go of whatever you’re used to hanging onto. There’s always more.
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
I see things the way I want to.
Everybody is a figment of my expectations.
If I don’t understand it, it’s not real.
Or worse.
I believe if I try hard enough,
I can make things the way I want them to be.
I control my life.
I am responsible for how other people feel.
How they feel determines who I am.
If I don’t like something, I will keep thinking
about the way I wish it were.
I need to understand.
God, or life, owes me. Something.
Or has it in for me. For some reason.
I will prove myself to be who I truly am.
What I think, is real; everything else is almost.
I know what I like. And it matters.
I live by what I understand.

This is the garbage that I take to the dump,
to God, my sweet meadowy landfill.
Over and over, I have to take out the trash.
I drop my burden
to be with the One,
in this moment, as it is,
as I am,

as God is.

Weather Report

with considerable release at higher altitudes,
as throughout the day
reality shows a high disregard
for what you think.
There will be significant clearing,
as the sun burns off the upper layer
of judgment.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

I’m in Montana again. It’s dark at the moment but I know the Elkhorn Mountains hold me in their arms. The mountain winds stream down the ridge, across the meadow, into my lungs and on their way eastward. Maybe in a few days I’ll breathe them again. My sister and I sit for a quiet breakfast. The dogs pace and sniff and curl at our feet, winding invisible threads of love around our feet and the chairs and the table.

Last night we sang, four of us who’ve sung together for 37 years, four lives braided together, pulling each other onto the stage. Sometimes I could feel the harmonies threading among our bodies. Thousands of little unseen threads flung out into the darkness and back, some to people I knew were there, most to strangers. Sometimes I could feel them tugging.

Afterward I visited with some old friends, some I hadn’t seen in decades. As talked and hugged, and gathered in ropes of years and love and stories and coiled them over our shoulders. Now another strong cord pulls at me. As I fly off toward home, I will get on an airplane with thousands of little threads tugging all the people this way and that. I’ll fly over roads and rivers threading their way across the land. I’ll land in Boston where you can almost see the threads of tenderness being cast out across the terminal as people greet each other.

All day long we’ll go about pretending we can’t feel them, failing to notice the little unseen threads, taut, between us and heaven. But we’re hopelessly entangled.

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

Acension Day prayer

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
He was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

                  —Acts 1.9

God seated him at God’s right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion.

                  —Ephesians 1.8-9

Master of Love, you have been taken from one place
and given in all places.
Released from one body, you now live in ours.
Lord of Love, you reign in my heart.
You are not absent, but within.
The power with which you create worlds,
raise the dead and heal all wounds,
the power of infinite love, lives in me.
Here in my heart, in all our hearts,
where love takes flesh as thoughts take song,
here in my heart your love sings.
Here in my heart is heaven,
and the Lord of Love,
reigning over all the universe.
I am your simple vessel, your humble home,
your sacred Body.
Together, we are your flesh.
We come into the world,
singing and dancing.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

With the eyes of your heart enlightened

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
I pray that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know the hope to which God has called you, the riches of God’s glorious inheritance among the saints, and the immeasurable greatness of God’s power for us who believe. That power in us is the very same power God put to work in Christ in raising him from the dead and seating him at God’s right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And God has put all things under Christ’s feet and has made Christ the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
         —Ephesians 1.12-23

God, may the eyes of my heart be enlightened.
May I see today not with the eyes of my fears and desires,
but with the eyes of heaven.
May I see with the eyes of your hope, and your tender love.
May I see your loving presence in all things,
supreme and yet hidden.
May I see the power of resurrection
radiant in every moment.
May I truly see,
with the eyes of my heart
full of your light.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Psalm 47

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
Don’t you want to dance?
         Don’t you feel the urge
         to rear back and sing real loud?
Because the Holy One, the Most,
         is so magnificent,
         and so totally has this world.
The Loving One has given us a love
         that overwhelms everything else.
Imagine this: the Infinite One
         has chosen us among all Creation,
         to love us and stay with us!

The universe is a song of praise
         to the Glorious One,
a flash of the radiance
         of God’s infinite power.
Go ahead and sing along!
         Make harmony with the heavenly song!
Sing your heart out to the Beloved!
         Let your whole life be the song!

Love is the heart of everything,
         so let love be the glory of your own heart.
—Doesn’t that make you want to sing?
         To run around shouting like a kid?—
The Loving One rules everything;
         occupies everyone’s secret place.
All of us—the whole planet—
         are God’s little ones,
         God’s dear sweeties.
What kind of a God could this be,
         but the most wonderful?

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

A place to begin

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

A guy comes into my study every once in a while to try to believe in God. Larry finds all our biblical stories kind of quaint and poignant, but unconvincing. He wishes he had something more than just his skepticism. He says, “I’ve clung to my skepticism like a lifeboat—but where has it gotten me? I’m still all alone in the middle of the sea.” So he wants to believe. I tell him that’s a pretty good place to start.

That’s all we ever have: a place to begin. None of us has the final truth; we all just start where we are and go from there. None of us possesses belief in all its fullness. But there is a wanting to believe; there is some kind of urge or leaning, a desire—or even, dare we call it love?— in our hearts. Deep within us lives an attraction to the Mystery that seems to be Someone, a desire for the God we can’t know, a love for the God we can’t always find. That desire, that gravity that draws us toward the great dark shape we can’t see, is our starting place, every day. If you have felt God’s hand on your heart, or heard her voice in your dreams, count yourself lucky. But know that memory alone will not draw you forward, without that pull of desire and even doubt. Whatever you remember or believe, whatever you possess or know, it is not your death bed, not a stopping place; it is a place to begin.

Something prowls in your heart that is true and powerful and it gives you life and moves you forward. It may not be belief. It may be a vague sense of how things ought to be, or hope disguised as loss. What is it? Sit still and let it emerge from the shadows. Let it speak, let it invite you. In what direction does it point you? Go there. That desire is the voice of God, pulling you closer. Follow it.

Larry comes in now and then, and we talk about the God he’s looking for, whom he doesn’t find, whose mystery haunts him, whose dream clings to him like a smell, whose voice is still coming together like bits of the wind. We talk about what’s real in his life, and how this God in whom he doesn’t believe keeps showing up. It’s like watching two people fall in love. It reminds me that I, too, am in a place to begin. I give thanks that somehow Someone has given us a place to begin. “Don’t be finished looking,” it all says to me. “Keep beginning. Keep beginning.”

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         I have called you friends….
         You did not choose me but I chose you.
         And I appointed you to go and bear fruit.

                  —John 15.15-16

It’s hard for the girl to trust
that the boy of her dreams
has chosen her.
But he has.

It’d hard for her to trust
that she makes his world beautiful.
But she does.

Even after all these moments of grace
it’s hard to trust
that the Passionate One
wants you, chooses you, adores you.
That you make this world more beautiful.
But you do.

Then why not run out
onto the dance floor
where your lover waits,
hiding in all their eyes?

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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