Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

The smallest thing—
a splurge of purple on a blooming branch,
a child’s untranslated cry,
the shuffle of a bird in flight
through the ribs of a parking garage,
the weight of your body,
or an empty space you stare into—
any small thing might be a burning bush,
a divine murmur, an open door
to stumble through, a barbed lure
cast slyly from heaven, an offer
to behold what you would overlook
in the thundering cataract of the senses,
an invitation to fall
into the gaze of the One who looks out
from you into this world.
The flame of a candle, or an unlit candle,
or a place where a candle could have been once
holds the Word on the tip of its tongue.

All you have to do is listen.
When you see the glint, hear the bell,
or enter into the shadow,
make space, be still, and ponder.

So much in the world within
awaits your attention
before flooding into this one.

Open the window.
Dodge the language, shed the words,
and stay in the gaze of the bloom or the branch,
where you slip through the eye of the moment
into eternity, through the silence
into what the silence is telling you.
Enter the temple.

Even as you read this a fly sits in the windowsill,
hands folded in prayer.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

The ground that you stand on
holds you so tenderly.
The air that you breathe
enters your temple so reverently.
The sunlight that falls upon you
has come far to embrace you.
The birds that sing
want you to know something.
The universe cherishes you
and the Spirit who creates it
cherishes you.
The trees that surround you
even in winter
raise their hands in praise.
God does not need vaporous angels
to convey blessing or utter delight to you.
Every step you take, the ground
answers up to your feet,
“Yes.” “Yes.” “Yes.”
Even your grave embraces you,
eyes shut, holding you close.


Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Life force

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

I could feel it this morning out in the woods, even in late summer when life has begun to turn its head. I could feel the life force in things, drawing trees up out of earth, turning leaves toward the sun, flinging grasses up out of the meadow, throwing sparks all around, grasses that reached for my ankles, my thighs, chest. Trees billowed up out of the meadow toward the morning light. I could hear it in the forest, birds murmuring, yelling at each other, making their announcements, and in the meadow, in the clicking, buzzing, whining of unseen insects. I could see it on the path, in little turds of various critters happily digesting and going on their ways. All the living things offered shade, shelter, fruit, favors and praise to each other. The elder oaks and the little bugs all did their part.

Life is happening, throbbing in every living creature. It imposes no judgment, no demands, no conditions. It just fills and lifts and motivates and empowers. It makes things blossom and sing and grow and reach toward the light and bear all kinds of fruit. It makes things diverse and beautiful. It is never disappointed in living beings, but only delights. It never punishes, only gives gifts. Even in the dying, the falling and rotting and becoming something new, there is life-giving transformation. In all things, each in its own way and fashion, there is beauty, and some kind of joy.

What if God is like this, and has nothing of the stern laws and demands and the aloof character of the gods carved on the pediments of our great buildings? What if God’s laws are life, beauty, delight, growth and giving-and-receiving? What if God is not far above us but within us? What if righteousness is less like moral superiority more like organic symbiosis? What if we are living beings, and there is a life force in us yearning for light, pulsing with beauty and gifts to give, urging us to grow, to love, to offer ourselves in praise? What if we are alive, and God is that life in us? How then would you live this day?

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes

The world’s sadness

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Sixty-five years ago today—Monday morning, August 6, 1945—the US dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima, killing some 150,000 people. There are things to be said on such a day about peace and nonviolence, about the nature of war, about our capacity for evil, injustice and self-deception, about our complicity in benefiting from others’ suffering, about trading in our concepts of power rooted in violence and destruction for a vision of power rooted in being co-creators with God….

But sometimes statements are not what we need. Sometimes we just need a moment to open ourselves to the deep sadness of the world. If today isn’t the day for you—it’s your birthday, or you planned a picnic— you can remember Nagasaki on the 9th. Or another. Any day will do; there are plenty more. History drips with the blood of slaughter, oppression, cruelty and suffering. To live fully rooted in this world we have to let into our hearts the deep sadness that we all bear, hidden in our consciousness, our cultures, our bodies. We don’t need to wallow in it. We just have to stop protecting ourselves from seeing it, feeling it, knowing it.

When we connect with the deep sadness of the world we connect with all humanity, and all creation—and the life that endures. When we open ourselves to the world’s sadness we open ourselves to compassion. When we touch the world’s suffering we stand elbow to elbow with God. We connect with the grace that hasn’t given up on us, the hope that rises in us, the One who lives within us, even in our anguish. We behold the forgiveness that transforms, the healing that revives, the mystery that creates us anew. The joy of those who have stood in the ashes and wept with those who weep is honest and strong.

And even the unmarked graves, the mass graves, the innumerable tombs are all empty.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

I sit and watch the desert sky
until I belong to this earth.
After a long time a bird passes—
just passing:

a million year old raven circling
on ancient thermals,
rising forever among these
ageless canyons.

He circles eternally.
I am merely a passing shadow,
far below. I will soon

and he will circle beyond the time
when my language is forgotten.
After a long time I stop

which of us is the one who is
merely passing through,
until we are both eternally here,
in this moment.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

He lies in bed beside her,
her life alongside his,

hears the river of her breathing,
feels the gravity of her flesh,

imagines her in the dark,
not doing anything, just lying there

half asleep, just being, and feels
an ardor sweetly rising in him,

not a craving but an inclination,
desire mingled with delight,

not for anything she could do
but simply by her being there,

and before he turns to touch her
he hesitates, waits in the hovering dark,

and savors the arousal of his fondness,
her effortless effect upon him,

her praise alive in him,
purely granted, not achieved,

and he thinks,
“So this is how God feels,

watching us in our sleep
and in our waking,”

and relishing his vivid gratitude
he reaches for her softly.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes

What your soul needs

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

When I go to a quilt shop with Beth, while she hunts for fabrics I just look for pretty stuff. And I always go the the solids, bolts of pure color, and look for the particular color that my eyes need that day. I don’t know what it means, but there are days when my eyes really want to see green, or a yellowish orange, or deep blue. I don’t “figure it out.” I just look until my eyes rest with a certain color. They know what they need.

The same is true of our souls. We each have areas in which we can tell when our plants need watering or our pianos need tuning, or what’s needed to make the salad taste right. How often do we attend to what our souls need? At any particular time we may need rest or challenge, solitude, community, answers, questions, clarity, mystery, healing, forgiveness, light, darkness, courage, color, beauty, comfort, tension, words, silence… What a gift we can give ourselves by paying attention to what our souls need, and doing our best to give them that.

What does you soul need today— right now? Don’t try to figure it out. Your body will probably give you some hints. It’s not merely a matter of “doing what feels right.” (Our feelings will often gladly lead us astray.) It’s a matter of being still and listening to your soul until it tells you, until it comes to rest on a certain color.

You may not be able to go right out and get it. But you can be open; you can seek. (Seek, and you will find…) You may not be able to discern easily between what your soul needs and other appetites and desires. But you can ask. You can wonder. (Ask, and it will be answered…) There may be no clarity, no reply from your soul. But you can let the question simply be a part of your prayer, part of your awareness during the day. Be open to what your soul craves, and be open to honoring that as you can. And trust that “It is God’s good pleasure to give you the whole Realm” (Lk. 12.32).

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Didn’t you know

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

I say to you what the birds said to me
when I arrived after a long journey
and inquired about those I loved.
What the birds said,
threading their distances,
I say to you:

Didn’t you know
that you were borne all along,
that those who travel and those who wait
are carried alike?

Didn’t you know
that blessing flies with us perfectly,
like birds in a flock,
so you can’t tell who turns first,
who leads—us or the blessing—
whether we rest or leap from air to air?

What the moon said,
knitting her shawls of light and of darkness,
I say to you:

Couldn’t you tell that Love
follows us like a shadow,
and in all our desolations and consolations
bears us in her hand?

Couldn’t you tell
that the unseen are with us always,
that the orbit of love cannot be broken?

What the earth said,
that carried me there and carried me home,
I say to you:

It is too much to remember for a lifetime,
so remember just for this day
that the farthest paths and the wide horizon,
and those who travel them,
are nested in the hand of God,
that you can’t leave the One who wants you,
that even the lone bird
at the edge of the farthest sea
is at home.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes

All through your life

Dear Beloved, God will bless you all through your life,
Love’s own gentle hand caress you, all through you life.
You are made by God’s designing, with the holy Presence shining.
Grace will be your silver lining all through your life.

Journey hand in hand with Jesus all through your life.
Walk with him who heals and frees us all through your life.
Like him may you be forgiving, generous and freely giving.
Risen, new, receive your living, all through your life.

May the Holy Spirit lead you all through your life,
guide, protect, renew and feed you all through your life.
In the light of our redeeming, with divine compassion gleaming,
be a light for others, beaming all through your life.

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes

A blessing

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

(Colossians 1.9-14)

I do not cease praying for you:

May you be sensitive to God’s delight.
May Spirit be your window on the world.
May you be in harmony with the Holy One,
your life a gift to God.

May you continually grow closer to God.
Your life be full of loving deeds.
God’s grace be strong in you.
May you be prepared to endure everything
with patience.

May gratitude to God fill your heart:
for as with all her children, her holy ones,
the Loving One has claimed you
and given you her light.

She has rescued us
from the dark tombs that encase us
and brought us into the realm of her Beloved,
in whom we have life again,
and are set free.


Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes

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