Visio Divina in the Southwest

A photo essay by Beth Griffith

By Beth Griffith
part of the Selah Community

Editor’s note: While Lectio Divina is a method of praying with scripture, Visio Divina (Latin for “divine seeing”) is a method for praying with images or other media. For a “how-to” on Lectio Divina visit SelahCenter.org. Debora Buerk, editor


Upcoming Events

Going Deeper

Two-part Workshop
September 24, 2022: Session One
October 22, 2022: Session Two
9:00am-12:30pm (PST)
Hybrid – In Person in the Edmonds area and Online

Learn more at SelahCenter.org under the Events tab.

Kairos Morning

Come together online each week, the community of Kairos provides a unique contemplative experience with a spiritual practice and breakout group that shares the time through silence, art, music, and teaching. Kairos opens up space to encounter the Spirit, one another, and oneself through God’s inviting presence.

  • one hour contemplative gathering (online)
  • free and come anytime
  • Friday, 10 am with a zoom link invite

Learn more at SelahCenter.org under the Events tab.

Good Morning

On the Pulse of the Morning

(Excerpt)

…Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream….
Here, on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, and into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope—
Good morning.

Maya Angelou

Thoughts from Mary

I am grateful for sabbath, even when it doesn’t turn out as you had hoped. My aspirations for the month included down time along with organizing my office, playing with friends and family, and spontaneously saying yes to whatever showed up for the day. Instead, I spent over a week in bed with Covid (and a couple more weeks of tiredness) along with grieving the loss of a dear and close friend who while struggling through her cancer seemed to be living a full life. The sabbath that I hoped would restore some strength and perspective became a time of recognizing my weakness and need for God and others.

Sabbath is not something we accomplish or acquire or strive towards. It’s a resting in what God has for us.

Mary Pandiani

And so it is that I return to the call of Selah and my other responsibilities with a bit of heavy heart and weariness. Yet, I still remain grateful, not only for sabbath in whatever form it takes but also for this day. I want to claim, as Maya Angelou does, that I can say “good morning” to today, trusting that God will provide me with what I need for this day.

Sabbath is not something we accomplish or acquire or strive towards. It’s a resting in what God has for us. And for today, all I have is today. So may you, along with me, find the voice to say “help” where help is needed, trust that God shows up even when grief feels oppressive, and lean into “good morning” as a reflection of the hope that rests in God’s abundance, not my capability or circumstance.

Pax Bonum,
Mary Pandiani
Executive Director
Selah Center

Mary Pandiani, D.Min, serves as Selah’s Executive Director, leading the community and organization through its current transition period into future possibilities. Mary has served in various capacities for Selah, including as a founding board member, seminar/group leader, and co-facilitator for Selah’s extended programs, Living From The Heart and Way of the Heart. Mary is a spiritual director and coach, co-facilitator for a spiritual direction training program, and advisor for doctoral students. Mary received her Doctorate of Ministry at Portland Seminary, and her work focuses on a posture of contemplative living across the seasons of life. Her foundation starts with a love for the God who wants to be known and a desire to help others to pause-notice-listen-respond in ways that lead to a deeper understanding of God’s divine invitation. With the support of her husband Bill, Mary serves Selah while also enjoying her family of four adult daughters and their families. Mary lives in Gig Harbor WA where she knows the value of beauty in creation and the gift of community.

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Join Mary every Friday at 10:00 AM for Kairos. It’s a time for conversation the “selah way.” Welcome friends, old and new. Kairos is open to everyone interested in learning more about Selah. Kairos meets on Zoom for an hour at 10 AM. Click Here & Now for more info.

Here & Now blog

We’re taking a brief Sabbath. We look forward to seeing you in September.

Photo by Cliff Johnson on Unsplash

Sabbath Rest

Here & Now is taking a sabbath rest. We’ll resume publishing in September.

Kairos Morning will resume in September.Kairos Morning will resume in September.

Here & Now 
is published by Selah Center

Photo by Diane Helentjaris on Unsplash

Sabbath

Here & Now is taking a sabbath for the rest of August.

By Debora Buerk
Curator & Editor for Here & Now. 
Debora is part of the Selah Community

In the relentless busyness of modern life, we have lost the rhythm between work and rest,” writes Wayne Muller in Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest.

Millennia ago, the tradition of Sabbath created an oasis of sacred time within a life of unceasing labor. This consecrated time, Muller affirms, is available to all of us, regardless of our spiritual tradition. We need not even schedule an entire day each week. Sabbath time can be a sabbath afternoon, a sabbath hour, or a sabbath walk. Sabbath time is time off the wheel when we take our hand from the plow and allow the essential goodness of creation to nourish our souls.

We have lost this essential rhythm. Our culture invariably supposes that action and accomplishment are better than rest, that doing something–anything–is better than doing nothing.

Wayne Muller
Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest

Discussions about the Sabbath often center around moralistic laws and arguments over whether a person should be able to play cards or purchase liquor on Sundays. In Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now, Walter Brueggemann writes that the Sabbath is not simply about keeping rules but rather about becoming a whole person and restoring a whole society. Importantly, Brueggemann speaks to a 24/7 society of consumption, a society in which we live to achieve, accomplish, perform, and possess. We want more, own more, use more, eat more, and drink more. Keeping the Sabbath allows us to break this restless cycle and focus on what is truly important: God, other people, all life. 

Walter Brueggemann, Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary and the world’s leading interpreter of the Old Testament writes: “Thus I have come to think that the fourth commandment on sabbath is the most difficult and most urgent of the commandments in our society, because it summons us to intent and conduct that defies the most elemental requirements of a commodity-propelled society that specializes in control and entertainment, bread and circuses … along with anxiety and violence.” 

We used to sing the hymn “Take Time to Be Holy.” But perhaps we should be singing, “Take time to be human.” Or finally, “Take time.” Sabbath is taking time … time to be holy … time to be human.” 

Walter Brueggemann,
Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now

Here & Now and Selah Center is Taking a Sabbath

In the spirit of taking an intentional break from the rat race for rest and rejuvenation, the Here & Now blog will join with the Selah Center in taking a sabbath for the remainder of August.

We encourage you to consider taking a sabbath from social media. You might instead read Wayne Muller or Walter Brueggemann’s books.

We look forward to publishing again in September.

Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash

Delightful

By Sherly Dorney
part of the Selah Community

Delight in the Lord and he will give you the desire of your heart. 

Psalm 37:4

My grandchildren are absolutely delightful!  A hot fudge sundae, minus the calories, is delightful.  When my house is totally clean, I find that delightful.  And when God isn’t making me work on my stuff, I’m delighted to be conversing on an upbeat and positive level.  I “delight in the Lord” but not enough.

For about a million years I truly believed the desire of my heart was to have a man in my life. I’ve prayed, sacrificed, begged, pleaded, bargained, threw away all my Jimi Hendrix albums because someone convinced me they might be cursed, tithed, fasted, asked the saints for intercessions, asked people to pray for me.  You name it and I’ve done it.  Anything anyone suggested, I’ve done.  Now rushing toward sixty too quickly, I finally know a man in my life is not the deepest desire of my heart. 

My heart’s desire is to be all that God created me to be!  That means discovering my talents and using them for good.  It means healing the wounds that keep me from being whole.  It means listening to God’s whispers and being delighted that I’m being spoken to.

Had I been truly in tune with my heart’s desire, and had known the future, I would have spent that energy praying for my grandson Bryan, who is afflicted with severe ADHD and struggles so much in school and tries so hard but his talents are overlooked.  I would have spent more time feeling delight in God after being tested for leukemia, Colby’s results were negative and Garhett’s heart was healthy with no holes.  I would have begged and pleaded that my step-niece, Ryann could have died a natural death, that she and her baby would have lived a long life.   That her family would have never had to experience unthinkable pain and suffering and prayed against the evil that slithered into our family and tried to crush our spirits.

On the path of pain, when I forgot to delight, God didn’t forget me.  Instead, God delighted in me and my family and sent extraordinary healing, grace, and hope.  May we continue to delight in God and give thanks for all of our blessings and remember our true heart’s desire is our sacred relationship with God. How delightful! 

Photo by Sergiu Vălenaș on Unsplash

On Meditation

By Jeffrey B.
part of the Selah Community

On Jan 22,2022 early in the morning I was in my sacred space when I heard the news of the teacher’s passing. I felt there was something to write so I trusted my pen to move upon the paper.

Thich Nhat Hanh upon his death 

Find your breath, notice how simple is the in and out 

Use this to settle yourself dear One 

This is your grieving

Stand near a pond

Find a pebble, be-friend and notice the uniqueness of this pebble

Toss the pebble gently into the water -see how the ripples move from the splash

Notice the ripples eventually will disappear. But are they permanently gone? Or could they be absorbed into the greater body of water-which is the Universe.

As the ripples transform into the bigger body of water, the pebble has been floating to the bottom of the pond.

Now Dear One, cry your tears for me-we always can cry for One we’ve loved who has departed.

Find your breath again.

The in breath.

The out breath. 

See? It returns. The body knows how to return.

Now go, into your world again-walking with gentle kind steps in the way of Love.

Peace is the way, in the present moment. 

I am that pebble-I’ve gone to join the multitudes. 

Now go Dear One, 

All is well.

In “Resting in the River,” Thich explains that resting is the first part of meditation: 

I shared this writing with a loved one, who remembered a similarity,  then sent me the following writing of Thay’s from a magazine in 1988.

“My dear friends, suppose someone is holding a pebble and throws it in the air and the pebble begins to fall down into a river. After the pebble touches the surface of the water, it allows itself to sink slowly into the river. It will reach the bed of the river without any effort. Once the pebble is at the bottom of the river, it continues to rest. It allows the water to pass by.

“I think the pebble reaches the bed of the river by the shortest path because it allows itself to fall without making any effort. During our sitting meditation we can allow ourselves to rest like a pebble.

“We can allow ourselves to sink naturally without effort to the position of sitting, the position of resting. Resting is a very important practice; we have to learn the art of resting.”

Written by Thich Nhat Hahn, “Resting in the River” 

Source: March 1998 issue of The Shambhala Sun, pg  45.

I had never seen or heard of “Resting in the River” before. ….I will not try to explain this occurrence, only to bask in gratitude, and tears, for the teacher is now a cloud. May it be so. –JB

Thich Nhat Hahn

Photo from Lion’s Roar

You Might Have Stared, Too

By John Kiemele
part of the Selah Community

I had an appointment at a downtown office, parked the car and was crossing the street when something caught my attention: A woman was leading a llama down the street. This is not a regular occurrence where I live, so of course I paused to look. Okay, I stared.  

Here was a llama, with its shimmering, well-groomed coat, shiny halter with ornamental lead, tall and stately with a rather regal, clip-clopping along.  

Strangely enough, it seemed like everything in this particular moment belonged. And there I stood, smiling at serendipity. When I entered my intended appointment, I inquired if anyone had noticed the lady leading the llama right outside their office window. They had not noticed, and with the tilting folders, an army of sticky notes, and the humming machinery, I understood.

How easy it is to miss such scenes when regular life piles in around us. How often, I too, miss these unsuspecting slivers of life tucked into simple street crossings.  And yet, seeing that llama that day, I realized that every moment holds a potential surprise. Every moment echoes from Love and begs my heart to wonder about something more. To move with attentive openness to unfolding life. To be alert to slivers of mystery that make me smile at llamas—and keep wondering,

About John Kiemele

John Kiemele is a wellbeing educator and spiritual director who currently companions individuals, teaches various seminars and lifestyle classes, leads contemplative retreats and serves as Program Director at Rolling Ridge Retreat Center.  Focusing on contemplative soul care, John gratefully walks alongside individuals, small groups, classrooms, and congregations.  Recognizing how intentional pausing and listening unlocks life, John strives to engage the whole person – body, mind, soul – in the lifelong process of living well.  John received his Ph.D. in education/spirituality from Talbot School of Theology, with post-doctoral emphases in Spiritual Direction, Mindful Self-Compassion, the Enneagram Spectrum, and Wellness Coaching.

Photo by Pierre Borthiry on Unsplash

Through the Lens of a Contemplative Photographer

The splendor of the Pacific Northwest by photographer Andrew E. Larsen

Blessed are the Peacemakers
GIVING PEACE A CHANCE

Andrew E. Larsen, pastor and
professional photographer

Pastor Andrew E. Larsen describes himself as a Peacemaker. His ministry promotes seeking truth and making peace between Christians and Muslims. “Peacemaking in the way of Jesus is what we follow,” he says.

Larsen’s ministry endeavors to help Christians and Muslims understand each other better. “We work hard at building bridges of understanding and trust that can bear the weight of truth,” he says. “From there we can work to find how humanity can be reconciled, regardless of our histories and differences.”

Larsen says while he’s a “card-carrying Christ-follower,” he can fully love his Muslim neighbors. He points to Matthew 5:9 as what Jesus taught and modeled in the Gospels. 

To this end, Larsen has produced two documentaries on this subject. Dr. Rev. Larsen is a Selah Companion and serves on the Selah Center Board of Directors.

View more of Andy’s photos at https://www.andrewlarsenphotography.com. 
Learn more about Larsen’s work in peacemaking at http://worldlyholiness.com.

Am I Really a Contemplative?

Someday I Will Visit Hawk Mountain

By M. Soledad Caballero

I will be a real birder and know raptors
by the shape of their wings, the span of them
against wide skies, the browns and grays
of their feathers, the reds and whites like specks
of paint. I will look directly into the sun, point and say,
those are black vultures, those are red-shouldered
hawks. They fly with the thermals, updrafts, barely
moving, glide their bodies along the currents, borrowing
speed from the wind. I will know other raptors,
sharp-shinned hawk, the Cooper’s hawk, the ones
that flap their wings and move their bodies during the day.
The merlins, the peregrine falcons, soaring like bullets
through blue steel, cutting the winds looking for rabbits,
groundhogs that will not live past talons and claws.
I will know the size of their bones, the weight
of their beaks. I will remember the curves, the colors
of their oval, yellow eyes. I will have the measurements,
the data that live inside their bodies like a secret
taunting me to find its guts. Or this is what I tell myself.


But, I am a bad birder. I care little about the exact rate
of a northern goshawk’s flight speed. I do not need
to know how many pounds of food an American kestrel
eats in winter. I have no interest in the feather types
on a turkey vulture. I have looked up and forgotten
these facts again and again and again. They float
out of my mind immediately. What I remember:
my breathless body as I look into the wildness above,

raptors flying, diving, stooping, bodies of light, talismans,
incantations, dust of the gods. Creatures of myth,
they hang in the sky like questions. They promise
nothing, indifferent to everything but death.
Still, still, I catch myself gasping, neck craned up,
follow the circles they build out of sky, reach
for their brutal mystery, the alien spark of more.

(Helpful to read out loud if you don’t listen to the audio)

A poem touches each of us a bit differently, yet the same – a moment of encounter in the imagination that reaches deep within us. The bold italics indicate what captures me from what the Allegheny College professor and poet, M. Soledad Caballero offers. To hear these words read by the Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama further enhances the resonance I experience in the listening.

Walking along a slough bordering Camano Island, I witness a flock of herons, or the proper group name siege, hurling into the sky when Caballero’s words speak to me “what I remember: my breathless body as I look into the wildness above.…” In that moment, I hear my own thoughts that there is a wildness that runs through my own remembering and breathless body. It’s contemplation. That’s how the contemplative life engages my heart and soul and mind.

Analogous to the poet, I forget all the knowledge of what makes a birder a birder. For me, it’s the contemplative life. I want to live contemplatively, but I forget. I’m a “bad” contemplative in the sense that I fall and rise again, fall and rise again. I try harder, only to fall down again. The knowledge of what it means to be contemplative is helpful. But it quickly flies out of my head, especially in my greatest need.

My longing suggests that I want to know more, but seeking knowledge in the way of information lacks the power to transform my engagement with the world, others, God, even my own life. There is an “alien spark of more” when it comes to the contemplative life. I want to encounter more, go deeper more where wonder and curiosity generates movement and engages mystery.

As the poet seeks to know more about the birds, she recognizes they capture her heart not by the important details that she can learn, but how they live in the world. Witnessing their flight brings about questions, hopes and fears, stories of mythological gravitas. Interestingly, she does know quite a bit about the birds. Yet she longs for something more.

For me, I too learn about God, and want to know more about Divine Holy Mystery. But how quickly the energy in engaging God dissipates if I only stay in the grasping of intellectual attainment for what I think I need. My encounter with the Divine requires, demands, invites me into something that goes beyond my thinking. In the wonder and colorful mystery of who God is, I find a depth crystalizing the beauty of encounter. The crystalizing depth becomes a way of remembering. It is there that I see God move in and through my being so that when I do fall, or am a “bad” contemplative, I am not alone.

Perhaps the remembering is the spark for knowing birds, for knowing what is unknowable.

By Mary Pandiani
Executive Director
Selah Center

Mary Pandiani, D.Min, serves as Selah’s Executive Director, leading the community and organization through its current transition period into future possibilities. Mary has served in various capacities for Selah, including as a founding board member, seminar/group leader, and co-facilitator for Selah’s extended programs, Living From The Heart and Way of the Heart. Mary is a spiritual director and coach, co-facilitator for a spiritual direction training program, and advisor for doctoral students. Mary received her Doctorate of Ministry at Portland Seminary, and her work focuses on a posture of contemplative living across the seasons of life. Her foundation starts with a love for the God who wants to be known and a desire to help others to pause-notice-listen-respond in ways that lead to a deeper understanding of God’s divine invitation. With the support of her husband Bill, Mary serves Selah while also enjoying her family of four adult daughters and their families. Mary lives in Gig Harbor WA where she knows the value of beauty in creation and the gift of community.

Mystery of Suffering

May all the love you lavish come back to you in a glittery filled
bright ball of sunshine

As you have loved and cried and screamed and ached and nursed wounds in your children and  friends

May all of this come flooding back to you in your time of need.
May it speak directly and clearly to your soul.

You dear one are safe
You are loved
You are known
You are not alone
You are held
You matter
All of you — All your story matters
All of you
is safe —and held here

 

Jeffrey
part of the Selah Community

 

 

Embodied