Love Bade Me Welcome

Love bade me welcome.
Yet my should drew back
guilty of dust and sin.

But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked any thing.

A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?

Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.

Love III
by George Herbert

My friend and pastor, Ken Sikes, reminded me of this poem that offers an invitation for us all as we close out 2020 and usher in 2021. Here are Ken’s words describing the background to the poem:

“George Herbert was an ascending star in 17th Century England. He served two years in the British Parliament by the age of 32 and was known by King James. Herbert left the life of politics to become the pastor of a country parish far from the halls of power. His reflection on those times, The Country Parson, were published after his early death at the age of only 40. The book became a sort of textbook for countless seminarians. His other published work is, perhaps, less known but also came from his time as pastor.
Pastor Ken Sikes

The Temple is a collection of poems based upon the elements of the church.
It includes poems with titles like ‘Lent’ and ‘Christmas’ as well as elements like ‘The Altar’ and ‘The Windows.’ I have not read The Temple, but those who have studied it believe Herbert had a function and purpose to his work.


He used the poems as a kind of catechism to teach faith. Catechisms are not unusual, but Herbert’s approach may have been. Most catechisms tell people what to believe. Herbert took a different approach, instead of telling, he asked.

‘At Sermons, and Prayers, men may sleep or wander;
but when one is asked a question, he must discover what he is.’

George Herbert

Once we get past the now obvious gender bias of Herbert’s language, we are left with his means of teaching. Instead of telling, he questioned. Questions invite us in. Questions invite us to make things personal. Questions are invitations. Nowhere does this invitation shine more clearly then in what is likely his most famous poem. It is titled “Love III” but is best known by its opening line:

‘Love bade me welcome,
but my soul drew back…’”
Love III

With Ken’s reflection, I join him through this invitation inspired by Herbert’s poem: What is Love welcoming you to, into or away from in 2021? Rather than sleeping or wandering, through our questions we have from this year and into the new year, may we find ways to discover Love’s welcome.

by Mary Pandiani
Executive Director
Selah Center

Pause

“Yes?” asked Margaret, for there was a long pause—a pause that was somehow akin to the flicker of the fire, the quiver of the reading-lamp upon their hands, the white blur from the window; a pause of shifting and eternal shadows.”
― E.M. Forster, Howards End

 

On Saturday during Living From the Heart, we had everyone put on blindfolds (how trusting they were) in order for us to put various foods in their hands to smell. We asked them to open themselves to the possibility of what the smell may bring, without knowing for sure what the item was. Curiously, after removing the blindfolds, one participant, of whom I asked her permission to share, asked “What do you suppose the blindfolds mean in our lives?” For many, the opportunity to be curious and wonder allowed a willingness to receive what was given, even in those smells that were not appealing or resonating with good memories.

 

There is something powerful in a pause. It can alter a conversation, a direction, even the trajectory for life decisions. By taking the time to slow down, choosing to suspend judgment for a moment longer than the norm, an expansiveness occurs to allow for wonder and mystery. In these moments, the Spirit’s movement becomes free to open eyes to see, engage hearts to receive, and initiate actions to be intentional.

 

Selah’s mission is to invite all people to pause. We believe that’s where we meet God, the one who comes to us in mystery, in community, in the bread and wine given to us by Jesus in life, death, and resurrection. The beauty of the pause is that God is always there; the invitation to notice God becomes evident in the pause. While we might not be able to name God in the pause, we can acknowledge that something beyond ourselves wants to greet us, even in the “shifting and eternal shadows.”

 

I wonder if you’d be willing to put a blindfold on, for a short while, to receive with trust what God has for you. Our hope in Selah is to provide those opportunities and to encourage through community the practices that usher in wonder and surprise. Join us where you can.

Rest and Play

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.”

John Lubbock

Something about summer brings out the child in me. Perhaps it’s hanging out with the grandkids, seeing friends spend more time with their children home for the summer, or merely the playfulness that summer can bring. For this month, I call it my sabbatical month. It’s my month of rest and play. While there is much to still do even while playing, I find the slowing down contributes to what it means to rest. Watching the water, lingering with long sunsets, waking to bright sunshine, and walking barefoot bring about a peacefulness that accompanies this season.

Over the last few blogs, I’ve been speaking about the Camino of Selah – the journey we’re on, both individually and together. Part of the journey requires rest. Not just the rest of sitting down to catch our breath or ease our muscles, but also the rest that allows us to see things, feel things, touch things differently. One of our Selah friends, Jeffrey, reminded a group of us the value of walking barefoot in the dirt. Apparently, research shows the value of getting dirty. Remember those dirt pies? Playing with dirt, feeling it swish between our toes, jumping in water puddles (we’ve had a few recently in the Pacific NW, even in August), God must smile, perhaps laugh, at the joy that comes in enjoying the creation we’ve been given.

Take time on your Camino to rest, to play, to notice, to pause in the midst of these summer months. Let the God of creation remind you of rhythms that serve to slow us, restore us, cultivate new places in our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies.

If you want to read more about walking barefoot, read this blog post by Christine Sine in GodSpace: https://godspacelight.com/2019/07/08/meditation-monday-let-your-feet-be-free/

 

*******

At the end of the summer, the posts will culminate with a Selah Gathering of Companions and Friends on September 8th, 3-5 pm, Dumas Center, Federal Way. Throughout the spring and into the summer, we have been holding Gathering Hubs in various locations where there is an expression of Selah. From those conversations, we will have an opportunity to share in our Camino of Selah as well as our individual journeys that serve as an encouragement for one another. For as we say in Selah, above all else, if you are able to bring your desire to know God more deeply, and that is all at this time, then you share the journey. We hope that you are able to join us at the Gathering in September. Let us know if you plan to come.

The Pilgrimage

“It is a pilgrimage, not a hike.
Pilgrimages are more about stopping than going.
You stop your own life and step out of the familiar world so that
you can look and listen, reflect and change.
You strip away all that is unnecessary so that
you can hear the voice of God in your life. “
Fr. Peter Daly

On Saturday I went on a Pilgrimage of Prayer, walking from downtown Tacoma to the NW Detention Center, with a group from World Relief. (https://worldreliefseattle.org/detainees). The contemplative experience involved stops along the way to consider those who are experiencing, whether inside or outside the facility, the impact of immigrant detention. Walking the streets, hearing the sounds of trains and cars, smelling the salt air from Commencement Bay, we encountered the senses as an embodied prayer, personally and communally. The shared experience brought our group together while also engaging our hearts and minds with those we don’t necessarily know. Emotionally, physically, and mentally, something shifted in me.

That’s what pilgrimages do – the shared experience connects us to others, whether those on the trail or those who come to mind as we walk. By allowing the surroundings to take hold in our whole self, we begin to notice what can be often overlooked in the busyness of life. Entering into an unfamiliar place, a disorienting place, our imbalance opens up a place in us for newness. And as a result, we are changed.

This experience of pilgrimage is how I see our Soul Care groups in Selah. We enter into a shared experience of a spiritual practice, hopefully one that opens up our heart-soul-mind to allow the voice of God to whisper in our otherwise noisy lives. Encountering the Spirit personally, we discover through conversation and trust that others, right alongside us, are also seeking a relationship with God. We walk with intention, allowing the disruption that comes with meeting the Mystery of God, to change us.

Grace,

Mary

The Way of Selah, Part 2

“Pilgrimage invites us to notice what we are holding too tightly to,
so we might release ourselves into the current of life.”

Christine Valters Paintner

For travelers on a pilgrimage, it is necessary to know the appropriate and necessary equipment that protect and enhance the journey. Saying “yes” to what allows for freedom of movement; saying “no” to what is too heavy to carry. On the Camino, proper clothing and essentials reflect the intention of the journey. As for the Way of Selah, we too have decided the “yes” and “no” of who we are and how we want to move. Stated in the values, our intentions come in the form of verbs:

            • We affirm
            • We welcome
            • We relate
            • We honor
            • We encourage
            • We value
            • We recognize

These verbs seek to create, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the sacred space that honors our intention of living a contemplative life. Verbs assume action, the movement within Selah that offers affirmation, hospitality, relationships, encouragement, significance, and awareness. All the while, the rhythm of the contemplative life sustains the actions as we wake up to God’s unending presence.
Our prayer for you is that you may notice the places of freedom in Christ Jesus as you live your everyday ordinary life throughout the summer. As we are learning in Selah, may the Spirit move in such a way that helps you release what is unnecessary in order to hold onto the intentions of your life.

**********

At the end of the summer, the posts on the Way of Selah will culminate with a Selah Gathering of Companions and Friends on September 8th, 3-5 pm, Dumas Center, Federal Way. Throughout the spring and into the summer, we have been holding Gathering Hubs in various locations where there is an expression of Selah. From those conversations, we will have an opportunity to share in our Camino of Selah as well as our individual journeys that serve as an encouragement for one another. For as we say in Selah, above all else, if you are able to bring your desire to know God more deeply, and that is all at this time, then you share the journey. We hope that you are able to join us at the Gathering in September.

The Way of Selah

“The way of Jesus cannot be imposed or mapped — it requires an active participation in following Jesus as he leads us through sometimes strange and unfamiliar territory, in circumstances that become clear only in the hesitations and questionings, in the pauses and reflections where we engage in prayerful conversation with one another and with him.”
Eugene H. Peterson, The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways That Jesus Is the Way

 

Throughout the summer, I plan to share written posts on the values and commitments of Selah through a metaphor of the Camino, The Way, of Selah. We are all on a journey, a pilgrimage of life, that beckons us to places of hope, challenge, and awareness. Our destination seeks not an end, but rather a relationship, a deepening one with the Triune God who continues to invite us into places of unfolding discoveries with the Holy Mystery of God, others, and ourselves. The nature of the Camino invites us to companion with others whereby we share in similar language, familiar crossroads, and way stations, perhaps not at the same time, but certainly throughout ongoing pilgrimage. These posts give me an opportunity to articulate what’s important to the community of Selah with the hope that you too discover some of these same values in your life.

At the end of the summer, the posts will culminate with a Selah Gathering of Companions and Friends on September 8th, 3-5 pm, Dumas Center, Federal Way. Throughout the spring and into the summer, we have been holding Gathering Hubs in various locations where there is an expression of Selah. From those conversations, we will have an opportunity to share in our Camino of Selah as well as our individual journeys that serve as an encouragement for one another. For as we say in Selah, above all else, if you are able to bring your desire to know God more deeply, and that is all at this time, then you share the journey. We hope that you are able to join us at the Gathering in September.

To begin the series of posts, here are the values of Selah that will be the focus for the summer.

  • We affirm God’s initiating love expressed profoundly in Christ Jesus.
  • We welcome God’s love as the true Source of our being and our becoming.
  • We relate to God with receptive hearts and minds, nurtured in the way of Christ Jesus.
  • We honor the uniqueness of all persons as the recognized presence of Christ Jesus.
  • We encourage an openness toward, sanctuary for, and hospitality to all persons.
  • We value community as shared journey with others who desire contemplative living.
  • We recognize the triune presence of God as the One who fills each moment with us, gives inspiration for vision, births newness and hope, and reconciles all creation.

Should you want to dialogue around these values, please feel free to email me at director@selahcenter.org. Your thoughts, questions, comments are welcomed for further conversation both through the summer posts and into our September gathering.

Mary Pandiani, Executive Director

The Ballad of the Judas Tree

This poem was offered through song at church on Sunday. I have never considered the fate of Judas when Jesus descended into Hell; that Jesus as the “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3) first identified with Judas’s pain and sin and redeemed the one who had betrayed him the most. What a comfort to know that the love and grace of Jesus extends far beyond anything we do or are. He takes us down from our own tree of sin and despair to restore us to Himself.
+From: Marilyn Vancil

The Ballad of the Judas Tree
By Dorothea Ruth Etchells

In Hell there grew a Judas Tree
Where Judas hanged and died
Because he could not bear to see
His master crucified
Our Lord descended into Hell
And found his Judas there
Forever hanging on the tree
Grown from his own despair
So Jesus cut his Judas down
And took him in his arms
“It was for this I came,” he said,
“And not to do your harm.
My Father gave me twelve good men
And all of them I kept
Though one betrayed and one denied
Some fled and others slept.
In three days’ time I must return
To make the others glad
But first I had to come to Hell
And share the death you had
My tree will grow in place of yours
Its roots lie here as well
There is no final victory
Without this soul from Hell.”
So when we all condemn him
As of every traitor worst
Remember that of all his men
Our Lord forgave him first.

Holy Week

The last week of Lent:  Take the Passion narrative, chapters 22-24 of Luke.  Read slowly, carefully and pray sections of this each day.  Be open to finding the truth of the Paschal Mystery for you during the Holy Week.

-Joyce Rupp, Fresh Bread

Submitted by Diney Ruebel

Mark 14:22

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

+Mark 14:22

A Letter to those Celebrating Easter

Hello fellow life-travelers,

These beautiful days of sunshine and blooming trees (sorry to the allergy sufferers) are a reminder to us that LIFE is all around us, and in us.
Just a couple of weeks ago we had snow, and cold, cold weather. Even then, while it was dark and cold, the trees and plants were doing their interior work to be ready to respond to the sunshine.
There is so much more than what we can see!
Goodness is often quiet, while evil is loud and demanding.
Now is our time to remember – and celebrate –
The God of everything waited, and found a way to become like us – human – was born in an out of the way place, lived a relatively quiet life,  and with His words and actions upset the whole foundation of human life together. By being who He is.
And then, when everyone thought it was over, He came back and said – It’s only just begun!
Because evil doesn’t win, as loud as it is, LOVE wins, because that is who our God is!
For all that is hard in life, we also get to burst forth – like Jesus out of the tomb – like the trees that bloom- into who we are, our beauty. In small ways maybe for now, but also with the promise that this life is chapter one, and there are endless chapters of growing into our own beauty – to enjoy and offer to others- ahead of us.

-By Jeanette Scott submitted by Kathleen Heppell

From Sandy Shipman

Full disclosure, I don’t really get Lent. Perhaps it comes from being raised in the Church of Christ where there were no holy days other than the Lord’s Day. The communion song, “This we do each Lord’s day, as Christ has said…”reverberates in my brain as I write. We didn’t follow the church calendar, celebrating Christmas and Easter very minimally at home, my parents’ appeasement to their children but don’t tell anyone at church. Or perhaps it’s my Enneagram Seven-ness: if you can avoid pain, you should avoid pain. Reading about the Crucifixion and participating in Lenten activities never really caught on with me. Writing about it is a stretch.
At a dinner party the other night several people declined certain indulgent foods or beverages due to Lent. It got me thinking. First, I didn’t even know it was Lent. Second, I wondered if there was something wrong with my Christian-ness, my theology, with me. Why was I always so different, so other from people I knew and respected? Why was I always standing a little outside the mainstream rules and procedures?
I started thinking about what the cross meant. Which got me thinking a lot about grace and how I respond to mistakes. Last week, on a mountaintop in the dark, I made some mistakes that could have been life threatening. It was a scary situation. We all made it down alive and well, but the errors in judgment stayed with me. I found myself wanting to confess to everyone, but fearing the consequences, the punishment, the restrictions that might ensue, I kept the confession silent. While I prayed on the mountain and on the way down, and shouted a final exclamation of gratitude at the bottom, I had pretty much ignored God after that. I didn’t want the lecture. As my backpack got heavier and heavier that night, so did this burden of guilt and responsibility.
About to shatter under the weight, I went to my friend and told her I needed to confess. I needed accountability. She listened to my whole, ugly story. I waited for judgement. Our Fathers and Hail Marys perhaps. Sacrifice a bull. Confess your sins in front of the congregation and be shunned. Carry a cross. Something.
And where two or more are gathered, I knew God was listening in. Of course, He knew. Of course. My hands instinctively slid to my backside to await the spanking.
You readers of the Lenten series know what came next. You know my friend and have experienced her grace. You know Jesus and have experienced His grace. The big arms-stretched-wide embrace of Love. Come home. As I write, I cannot think of one time when I confessed to God and received anything but open arms. Not one time. I can tell you hundreds of times I delayed going to God because I expected punishment. And thousands of times I have judged others and invoked or wished harsh consequences on them. Yet my Lord, never once, has done the same to me. Lessons to learn, sure. Growth to be had, yes. Natural consequences, sometimes, but less than you’d predict. Always, open arms. Come home.
I’m thinking I might jump into this whole Lent thing and try giving up this delicacy of judgement. Focus on the healthy diet of love and forgiveness. Live in the gift. Maybe try it out after Lent too. After Easter, until Christmas, and again. Still.
Last night I went to a performance by Rona Yellowrobe, a Native American Flute player, singer, and storyteller, and her guitar playing partner, Bruce Witham. You can imagine how the two instruments go together nicely. Native American flute players do not use music or study notes. The music comes from the heart. Players may learn songs and repeat them, but the music is not written down, and can change as the spirit moves. It was beautiful. Bruce also plays the cello. Cello music is defined, written down, procedural. It comes from a composer. Until Rona and Bruce get together, then the experience is magical.
To add to the glory of the evening, an accomplished harmonica player, Eric Brown, joined the duo. Bruce switched to blues guitar, and flute, harmonica, and guitar jammed like there was no tomorrow. There was only now. Musical mindfulness. Hallelujah and Amen. Turns out, Eric had never met either Rona or Bruce before stepping to the stage. Three distinct, disconnected instruments and musicians transfixing their audience with joy, a little outside mainstream rules and procedures.
And then the gift, the audience was invited to join in with singing the chorus of the song, “Get Together.” Separate instruments, voices, lives, beliefs, all praising, pleading together. The spontaneous and the designed. The weight and the grace. The Cross and the Resurrection.
Come on, people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now.
Right now.
Right now.

The Stations of the Cross, Final

Contemplative Stations of the Cross
By Bill Snyder

Station 12
Jesus Dies on the Cross

Station 13
Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross
The earth has stopped trembling; the sky has stopped crying.  Alone at the cross is Mary, the apostle John and a few guards.  They continue quivering and weeping, shocked and saddened.  It seems surreal to see their God lifeless.  The guards remove the nails, and bring the body of Jesus to His distraught Mother.
(Pause)

Station 14
Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

Throughout the sorrow and pain of an unjust death, the friends of Jesus, our Savior, have a hope that is not yet fully understood but is present nonetheless.  For us today, it is sometimes hard to see hope because tears often impair our vision.  When all seems lost and failure surrounds us, we must have hope in our God, for nothing is impossible for Him.
(Pause)