I will whisper

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

I will whisper in your ear.

A voice of clear silence,
the breath the world came from.

A small boat in a light breeze
slips along the water.

More sun pours into the meadow
than it knows what to do with.

A figure vanishes into the crowd
but is not lost.
What if I am all of them?

The moments that have passed between us
do not disappear. I hold them
in my hand, ripening.

I have this blessing that expands
to fill the universe.
What can I do with it?
I hide it inside you from behind.

I touch you in places
not of your knowing,
a hand on your heart,
only deeper.

I never speak.


Hours after the rain,
the trees are still weeping.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

The Spirit intercedes

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

You who pray, take heart.
You don’t have to heave your prayer
over a wall of difference, an abyss
of distance between you and the Holy One.
Your prayer need not be enlarged to be noticed
or translated to be understood
or embellished to be worthy.

The God at the far reaches of the universe
is also within. The Holy Indwelling Presence
will never fail you or abandon you.

We do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit intercedes for us
with sighs to deep for words.

We do not pray to God: God prays in us.
We merely hold the space.

We do not know how to give as we ought
but the Spirit gives in us gifts too deep for words.
We do not know how to forgive,
but the Spirit intercedes with surrenderings.
We do not know how to grieve,
but the Spirit cries in us with tears too deep for words.
We do not know how to wonder, to lament, to bless,
to trust, to heal, to dare, to thank.
But the Spirit intercedes.

We do not know how to live as we ought,
but the Spirit intercedes for us
with lives too deep for words.

To every day, to every moment,
to each breath and every heartbeat we say,


Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

The feast within

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

“The realm of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in a field… The Realm of of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened…. The realm of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field… The realm of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind…”
         — from Matthew 13

The idea of a heaven far away and later
was invented by travel agents with tickets to sell.
Let them make their expeditions to Other Places.
Perhaps from there this land will seem exotic
and they’ll find their way home with new wonder.

But Jesus has no far-off land in mind.
Do you see?— the realm of heaven is not removed
but always inside something, hidden
close at hand, underground, under water, under
your nose. Nearer than your thinking.
Heaven is not up, my friends, but in.
It is the Seed of the World,
the Soul at the heart of all things,
the source from which all things emanate.
The realm of heaven is the heart of a cry,
the energizing dream,
the love in a love song.
The Holy One is the Center of All Things,
and we radiate from her like light,
like laughter, like the smell of a rose.

This mustard seed vibrating with delight
becomes the million million things you see
and when you reach to the center,
the love at the heart of each moment,
the soul of the person before you,
you are there.

You who are wandering
on the fringes of the royal estate,
who stand out in the outer darkness
and see the feast within, look:
the door is open.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

A postcard from God

I’m enjoying my travels. Sunrise this morning: pink and purple low over the city. I saw it & thought of you. I think of you a lot. In fact no matter where I am I’m thinking of you. You know how you wish you could be in two places at once? Well, there you were, right with me. Pink and purple in the new light. Kind of cool how that works. Next we’re going on a long bike ride. Hope you like it.

Look around.


Flesh and Spirit

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
Brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
         — Romans 8.12-14

My egoic mind thinks who “I” am is defined by and limited to my individual physical existence, my body. I think I am exclusively this self that is separate and distinct from all other beings, and separate from God. But this definition of the self is a false, misleading and incomplete picture of who I am. Living according to this self-centered idea of the self, “according to the flesh,” I live a self-centered life, prone to sin. I am controlled by the fears, desires and attachments of that little self-contained life and its protection: I naturally seek security, power and esteem (what Paul calls the “deeds of the body”). I cut myself off from God and the rest of Creation, like a branch, as Jesus says, torn from a vine. I wither and die, confined my my mortality. And because my body so betrays me, I live in conflict with my own body.

But what if, as Jesus said, “I am in God and you in me and I in you”? Then who “I” am is not centered in myself, but in God. Who I am is part of God’s “I AM.” I am not an individual, isolated self but an aspect of the Holy Presence, a finite manifestation of the Infinite One. So instead of falling for the natural belief that I am my body, limited to it and a slave to its needs, I can enter an alternative consciousness, and engage in a different way of living. I can live a God-centered life instead of a self-centered life. My body is not merely my own flesh but the Body of Christ. Trusting that I am prone to grace I can let God’s holy yearnings within lead me. I can be led by the Spirit, God’s Presence in me (even in my body). I can live, as Christ, in totally free self-giving.

In a self-centered consciousness my body is the culprit in my mortality and the root of my sin. Flesh is bad. But in a God-centered consciousness, flesh is God’s good creation. My body is my connection to God, a way in which God’s creating Word is in me. Flesh and Spirit are both good, both entwined with each other: that’s what Creation is, the bonding of flesh and Spirit. It’s what incarnation is: love made flesh. There is no conflict between them. The conflict is between seeing flesh as evil and seeing it as good, because the conflict is between being self-centered and God-centered.

Live by the Spirit, Paul counsels: let God’s Spirit lead you instead of being driven by your hunger for comfort, control and approval. There is life in this. And in this life, there is joy in the body. Use your senses to behold the wonders of God. Use your hands to serve, your feet to dance, your guts to feel deeply. Your flesh is the way God’s Spirit enters the world. You body is not a limit, but a starting place. Let your flesh live in Spirit, and it will be good.
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Jacob’s ladder

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
Taking one of the stones of the place, Jacob put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him and said… “Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go….” Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
         — Genesis 28. 11-17

This is the cry of the soul, continually awakening, becoming more present, rising from our sleep of thinking that we know, and believing that that is enough: that God is in this place and we have not been aware, that we stand always and in every place at the gate of heaven. Notice how often the story speaks of “this place.” This is the place; now is the time. Awaken into the present moment. In this very time and place, beings infused with holiness emanate from God’s creation and commune with God: angels ascend and descend. Here and now, what God has made dances with God, emerges from God and returns and becomes one with God, and like the persons of the Holy Trinity gazing with love at each other, burns with the glory of wholeness. All this is here, in this place, this moment, and we do not know it.

Thinking that we know this place, preoccupied with other things, we sleep, unaware. But our souls yearn always to awaken, to become more mindful, to enter the present moment, to be more deeply present to the Holy One who is so lovingly and faithfully present to us, who is with us and will keep us wherever we go. The spiritual life is to continually awaken into that wonder, to see the place where we are newly as if for the first time, to become more deeply mindful that the One is here, that in fact we live in the house of God, in the Presence, and to join the angels, ascending and descending upon the ladder of each holy moment.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
God, thank you for the offer
to whisper to me through passing moments,
to nudge me without words continually,
to offer grace in odd places. It’s kind of you.
Quaint, really, and sweet. But unnecessary.
I know what I believe (thank you
for supporting me in this) and that’s all I need.
I know what’s a flower and what’s a weed.
I already know your Word. I’ve already decided
how fruitful this day is going to be,
how worthy the person I’m about to meet,
when and where I will encounter you
and when I won’t.
I mostly won’t.
But I’ve already got this moment figured out,
how you are present in it,
what ways your grace is hidden here,
how you will speak to me.
Sad to say, there’s not much mystery here:
no blessing secreted in a seemingly dull
or difficult passage, no divine providence,
no Presence thinly veiled by apparent things,
no gifts in silence or suffering, no good
mixed in with evil, or grief with gratitude.
You are elsewhere, I have determined.
This moment is abstract, generic, impersonal.
This light is just physics, this bread is just bread.
Your Word is arranged, according to protocol
(thank you), and I seek it in all the right places,
grateful to know where, and where not
to bother to look.
Sunsets, yes, patriotic displays,
success stories, devotional quotes. But not—
well, you know, all that other stuff.
True, there is some mess at the edges,
some inexplicable ambiguity and overlap,
but we’re cleaning that up. It’s a field of weeds,
but we’ll have it cleared in no time.
Anyway, thank you for your kind attention.
I’ll see you Sunday morning,
9:30 to 10:30.


Weather Report

There is no forecast today.
You’re just going to have to
watch and see.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

There are woods

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
Where I lived there were woods
where I walked in contemplation
every morning and evening.
People asked when I moved,
Are there woods? Can you walk?
Yes, there are woods, deep and quiet,
where I walk in silence each day.

And if there weren’t,
there is still a stand of trees nearby,
where I could sit and listen.
And if they were gone,
there would be my back yard,
and a little garden,
and if there were no yard
I could still sit in this chair
and gaze out the window
at the neighbor’s trees.
And if there were no window,
no trees across the way,
if I could not walk
or gaze or see at all,

there are still these gentle woods
that stretch out forever,
deep and verdant, in my heart,
where I go every morning and evening,
and whenever I want,
in the quiet.

And so do You,
walking in the cool of the shade.
I know you’re here
by your great footprints
of silence.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Sent to serve

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
Yesterday was my first Sunday as pastor of my new church. I felt sort of like a foreigner, an interloper, a guest preacher. But their welcome was warm and deep, and I did not feel out of place or awkward. Just new. But even among all those strangers I was on this familiar ground: I knew I had been sent to be their pastor. So as I greeted people after worship I wondered what love will grow among us. I met each person with the thought, “This is someone whom I have been sent to serve.” The awareness of my purpose—to love and to serve—gave me a solid, familiar, reliable place to stand, even amidst to much that was new and disorienting.

Isn’t that what I want for my whole life? It’s easy to let people become fixtures instead of individuals as I hurry through life seeking my goals. But then I start to become a stranger in my own life. Instead, God invites me to approach every person I meet, not just these church members, with the purpose of being lovingly present. I can trust that they have a great story to tell, and to be eager to hear it. I can met everyone knowing that no matter how well I know them, I don’t know everything; I don’t know what’s deeper, what’s next. I can keep listening. I can relate to everyone as someone to be loved, as someone whom I have been sent to serve.

Let’s try that today. Each person we encounter, we’ll think, “Ah, yes. Here is a person I have been sent to serve.” Let’s see if it makes a difference. Let me know.


Weather Report

as the early fog of assumptions lifts,
and each person
becomes new
before your eyes.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
Into cardboard boxes goes everything I own,
sheets and teacups, books and wrenches,
the things I need, the pans, those handy pliers,
and the things I cling to, letters and pictures,
and the little carved box from Vienna.

You’d learn about me, sorting through
the poetry, the musical instruments,
the photographs of kids and kin, the gifts,
the art we hang, the art we keep in case
we ever have a worthy wall.

The movers, impressively, can wrap up anything—
chairs, skis, a painting easel, a wheelbarrow—
and fit it in. It’s all here, everything.
And what, insurers query, if the truck
should crash, catch fire and roll into the river?
All would be lost. A policy is wise. Sign here.
A bridge from this house to the next.

Yet, in between, in the homeless moment,
all my possessions elsewhere,
neither the boxes nor their dowry matter.
For a moment, I am free.

I stop and ask, so what?
What if the fire and river had their way
and there were no boxes, no furniture,
no plates or lamps or neckties?

There would be the other truck, of course,
driven by broad-shouldered angels, kind,
non-smokers every one, but strong as elephants.
I’ve never told them my address. They know.

I would settle somewhere calm and unpack
the prayers that have gone with me,
the blessings securely wrapped and tucked
into the suitcase of my heart,
the love I’ve dragged from home to home
and never once have lost.

I would unwrap and set upon the mantle of my mind
the bond, these decades old, I’ve kept with friends.
And here—oh look! I’d almost forgotten!—
the mystery of my divine belovedness.
I’d uncrate the gift of this very morning—
it’s raining now—
and set it out and gaze upon it lovingly.

Be done with cardboard, soul, sell everything.
The dearest things are those you don’t possess.

In the empty house of this moment
sit boxes you never filled, have never seen.
They’re yours.
Go ahead, now, and unpack.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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