She’s Breathing

Eternal One: Now look here!
I am creating new heavens and a new earth.
The weary and painful past will be as if it never happened.
No one will talk or even think about it anymore.
18     So take joy and celebrate with unending gladness
on account of what I am creating.
Look carefully! I am making this place I’ve chosen, this Jerusalem, a city of joy..
Isaiah 65:17

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.
Arundhati Roy

In 2005, I went to the Holy Land with some good friends. My view of the world expanded in that time. Walking the streets, smelling the trees, stepping into the Jordan River, I was in the land that Jesus Christ and so many followers since then have been. Something started to deepen in me that moved my heart, perspective, and understanding of God. While the entire trip was riveting in its overall sensory, emotional, and spiritual experience, a significant moment changed my trajectory.

Some strangers stepped into the Garden Tomb with my friend, Shari, and me. In the quiet, we all recognized the sacredness of the place. A place of loss and of life – the resurrection that continues to bring hope to an entire world. The strangers began a worship song, familiar to us, that filled the tomb. Shari and I joined in. As the voices subsided, we all stepped outside. It was in this moment that my heart opened up to something new. The strangers broke into pairs, approaching Shari and I individually. They asked if we wanted prayer. One to never refrain from an offered prayer, I said “yes.”

I don’t remember the prayer exactly, but I remember the verse the woman gave me: Isaiah 65:17
Eternal One: Now look here!
I am creating new heavens and a new earth.
The weary and painful past will be as if it never happened.
No one will talk or even think about it anymore.
18     So take joy and celebrate with unending gladness
on account of what I am creating.
Look carefully! I am making this place I’ve chosen, this Jerusalem, a city of joy.”
Through the words of Isaiah, she helped me hear God in order to see beyond my present circumstances to a new place. One that I could not imagine, but could hope for.

Not long thereafter, I became a part of a contemplative community, a new start-up finding its place in listening to God’s invitation. Selah began. My own journey of learning to listen, hope, and live into the “way” of Jesus emerged with a freshness and depth that I had not experienced before. I attribute that moment in the Garden Tomb as the turning that brought me to this present place in life.

These verses, that trajectory, and listening, they are not only for my own personal life. These words serve as a reminder that a new world is here-but-not-yet. God is in the business of helping us living into that thin space where it often feels overwhelming, lacking in civility, and distressing. Yet, always a “yet” that brings us before the God who holds us all in this place – it’s a place that is “breathing,” whispering that we can have hope. May you find that hope in this day in the listening space of God’s abiding presence.

Thoughts on a Fall Morning

Sojourners sends a regular email with a “Verse and Voice” that usually speaks to my heart and soul as an encouragement and reminder of where God is at work in our world. Today, the quote was this: “Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” Maya Angelou

In our world that is filled with the opposite of love on so many fronts, it’s easy to forget that love asks us to move towards one another, again and again and again. If God is love, then it is God who provides us with the love we need to love one another. As well, if God is love, then this love is not only an action and response to another, it is God who is present. We are not alone in this endeavor to love and be filled with love. God is with us.

Courage, by definition, is an act of the heart that doesn’t require bravery in its usual sense. But rather requires a willingness to live into wholeheartedness. To move towards wholeness requires risk. That’s where courage and love come together – risking that loving another, especially the one(s) who frustrate, anger, lash out at us, is part of the journey of loving again, and again and again.

May you find God who is love providing you with courage to love again.

Letter from the Board Chair

A letter from the Board chair to the Selah Community:

As many of you know, we have been in the process of discerning a sense of direction and leadership for Selah since John Kiemele let go of the helm and encouraged us to plot our own course. We wanted to make this course a community involved decision and we are grateful for so many of you who desired and committed to being involved in this process. It has been such a lovely experience because it has also drawn us closer together and increasing our love for what is among us.

The first meeting we had in this process helped us to see that there is a strong ethos to our community that we can begin to trust and let carry us into the next phase of Selah’s development. The second gathering helped us to see that there are many of us willing to step into creating, offering, and leading from their particular contemplative presence, interests, experiences, and events. There are a number of you that are leaning into this possibility with some hesitation and wonder and we want to support you in this. In the third meeting we explored our inspirations of what we would like to imagine Selah becoming. Each time our gatherings were lead by a different people or groups of people and we are excited about the shared potential that has been rising to our consciousness.

In the meantime, we contracted with Mary Pandiani to provide direction as the Interim Executive Director who needed to keep things running until a clear sense of direction and leadership emerged from listening into the community. Through this time and process it has become clear to the board that there is no one better suited to lead us into the next phase of Selah than Mary Pandiani and so we let her know that we would like to offer her the role of executive director starting in 2019 when her interim contract is finished.

This executive director role came with the caveat that we want the executive director role to look more like a team lead than a solo responsibility because we want these budding leaders to emerge and we are a dispersed community which may need more regional leadership support. Therefore the discernment process is not over. We are still looking for more clarity about our sense of direction and our team leadership strategy and structure. Therefore we want to continue to engage the community in discerning these things.

We hope that you are as encouraged as we are by the process and hope that you are inspired to continue down this discerning path with us. Mary, has helped me (Troy) see that our core value and the chore ingredient of our character as Selah is the capacity to listen. To listen to God, to each other, to silence, and the space between each of us. Shall we continue to listen with hope and gratitude for what continues to immerge.

Troy Fenlason

Intentional Steps

Dear Selah Companions,

When Mary asked me to share something this month, it was an easy yes.  Easy, because I had been moved by your expressed desire for deeper “slowing and stilling” at our June Companion meeting.   These longings reflected the challenges of active living in our different seasons of life.

The Benedictines provide wise guides for living active lives contemplatively.  Esther de Waal says:  “…the Benedictine life simply consists in doing the ordinary things of daily life carefully and lovingly, with the attention and reverence that can make of them a way of prayers, a way to God.”   Attention invites conscious ways of viewing everyday acts and objects as inherently sacred when performed and regarded with care.  Attention makes space to listen to God, to ourselves and to the world around us.  And, it invites us to cultivate a sense of spontaneity and playfulness, in the midst of honoring our commitments lovingly and intentionally.

As one way to live an active life contemplatively, I offer Joyce Rupp’s “Seven steps of Morning.”   Her choice of seven reflects the symbol of wholeness.  The form can be adapted for birthdays, transitions, anniversaries, or whatever you imagine.  One could choose just one step as a way of slowing and stilling.  For example, as one waits in a car, one might desire to get out and pray just one step.  Or, as we clear the breakfast table, one might pray with each step.   Some of us might want to begin our summer days with The Seven Steps Prayer, recognizing that our Selah Companions might begin their days in the same way or in another contemplative expression that nourishes a life of intentional “slowing and stilling.”

The Seven Steps of Morning … Joyce Rupp

One small step is taken for each of the seven words.  After the word is spoken, one small step is taken.  One might choose to repeat the word, stay with the word for one or two minutes.  Then the next step is taken, the word spoken, repeated, etc.

Our first step is that of gratitude . . . for the gift of another fresh day of life.

Our second step is that of love . . . for the Holy One and for all of our dear ones.

Our third step is that of hope . . . for the possibility of growth in each moment.

Our fourth step is that of compassion . . . for all of creation and our deep connection.

Our fifth step is that of generosity . . . for all that shall be asked of us this day.

Our sixth step is that of laughter . . . for the joys that refresh our hearts. 

Our seventh step is that of patience . . . for the difficult challenges that may arise.

Giver of Life, awaken our entire being so the we can enter this day with the eagerness of one who sees beauty and truth strewn through every part of life.  Deepen our bond with you and strengthen our peace.  AMEN.

Grateful for you while remembering that St. Benedict wisely counsels “always we begin again,”

Diney R.

Ubuntu

Deepening in its meaning over the last few years, the word ubuntu resonates for me personally as well as within the various communities that hold me. Ubuntu, an African word, communicates that I am because you are, meaning that we exist in community where we belong to one another. The anchor to that belonging is God who brings us into the story with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. God exists in community through the Trinity, a mystery that causes us to wonder in the midst of the invitation to join. Through deep longings, we hear words that an early church father Augustine declares, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” We’ve been called into relationship with God and with one another. It is in belonging that we begin to know who we are.

For me, Selah offers ubuntu in its ethos of belonging. I discovered it twelve years ago when I first met with a small group in John and Marissa Kiemele’s home. From there, Selah has grown in its community, beginning first in Gig Harbor, WA, to Woodway, WA. Through our Living From the Heart cohorts, we also have people from the Portland area, Vancouver, Bellingham, Bay Area. From this web of connections, we now have people in Utah, Arizona, New Hampshire, and southern California. The community is expanding. The expansion serves not as a way to declare a number of people, but rather signifies the synergy of people desiring a deepening relationship with God and with others. Selah exists because those with similar hearts want to connect.

In the midst of Selah’s transition, my responsibility is to foster that connection. As the Interim Executive Director, my hopes focus on hearing your voices. We have already had two discernment gatherings with a third one this weekend. In that process, the values and charism (gift of purpose and being) became quite clear (see below). We’re also listening to those who want something to contribute to share in the leadership and ongoing possibilities for Selah. The Selah Board and I are paying attention to God’s unfolding present and future trajectory. The interim period includes a time of listening to God and one another for the purpose of discerning the direction, leadership, and possibilities of Selah. In light of this discernment, we have three questions for you:

What is Selah to you?

In what way(s), do you feel invited to contribute (ex. Hosting, Facilitation, Financial, Prayer, etc)?

In five years, what would be a sign for you that Selah stayed the course for its ethos, charism, and/or values?

Please feel free to respond by sending an email to director@selahcenter.org. Or if you would like to meet in person, let me know as I’m traveling up and down the I-5 corridor this summer to listen to you.

We’re in a liminal state for Selah – a threshold where we have moved from one season of life awaiting to step into a new season. In Selah style, we are taking time through silence, space, and conversation to take the next step with intention and grace. Please join us in this season through the ubuntu understanding that we are who we are because of who you are.

Grace,

Mary Pandiani, DMin | Interim Executive Director

I am Pilgrim After All

in this relocating season, with all parts swirling,

i’m breathing deeply, embracing awareness

into this sorting time

this reminiscing time

this packing time

this cleaning time

this tossing time…

each rhythm inviting new pausing…clear listening…brave responding…

determined releasing…

boxes of history, moments of meaning, connections prompting smiles and tears,

stuff symbolizing seasons…

personal stuff strangely drawing me God-ward…

seems apropos…

somehow the congruence of packing a household while shifting from Lent into Holy Week

deepens sensations

deepens sentiments

deepens expectancy…

i am pilgrim after all…

holding life as cherished gift yet loosely,

opening to Divine rhythms that somehow nourish,

that somehow evoke more Life with each next step…

listening step

following step

sorting, reviewing, packing, tossing,

hope-filled step…

non-arbitrary Paschal invitations nudging adventure,

nudging integration,

nudging trust…

yet more pausing,

yet more listening,

yet more releasing…

i’m breathing deeply, embracing awareness…

new Life unfolds indeed.

 

so be it.

grace and love to you in this good day.

john

Present

In the turning

the churning

of life today

can I widen my schedule

widen my eyes

widen my heart

and be

present

truly present

Love longs

to awaken

stir

inspire

unmask

embrace

something in this moment

Can I quiet my mind

pause my compulsions

silence my critic

muster my courage

open my heart

and be

present

No posturing

no proving

no rationalizing

no reacting

default-less

present

pliable

radiant

a sip of hot chai

along frigid trails

Love’s here

now

open

present

am I?