Listen to the Weaver

By Deb Tripp
part of the Selah Community

It never starts alone really
At least that’s the story I’ve heard
This magic —  this alchemy of
Listening  — being listened to
Of opening and stretching.
It is a weaving  — you the
First listener —  the warp
The strong threads tied to
My loom across the back beam.
It is your ability to hold
The tension that gives me
The notion that I can open
Up a little more.
The warp tension is strong
Up and down, back and forth
This listening creates the
Dance — the weaver’s dance.
And soon it is time to think
About the weft. What texture?
What colors?  How much space
Between my words and your words?
What tone?  What value?  How
Wide should we stripe our cloth today?

Photo by Aditya Wardhana on Unsplash

A Prayer for Our Country

God of mercy,
bless this nation of ours.
We pray for liberty,
         that none may be oppressed or exploited.
We pray for democracy;
         that all voices be heard, and none silenced.
We pray for peace,
         that there be harmony, in which everyone’s gifts may flourish.
We pray for justice,
         that no one benefit at the expense of another,
         that there be a just and equal sharing of power.
We pray for a spirit of patriotism,
         that we be faithful to one another as a whole.
We thank you for our freedom, and those who have protected it:
         teachers who taught us to question,
         neighbors who acted in covenant with one another,
         those who spoke out against injustice.
We thank you for the gift of our diversity;
         may we honor all people
         and celebrate our rich differences.
We thank you for this land, for it is yours.
         May we live in reverence for your Creation.
God of mercy, in love of our country we confess
         our mistreatment of the poor, and of the land,
         our abuse of power, and idolatry of our place in the world.
Temper our might with humility
         and our power with compassion.
Mend our divisions, heal our fear,
         and restore our love of one another.
Bless this nation,
         and bless every nation the same,
         for all of us are sisters and brothers.
On this Day of Inter-independence,
bless us O God, and make us a nation of justice and peace,
         a nation of benevolence and generosity,
         a nation of mutual sharing and cooperation,
         a nation devoted to the healing of the world.
God of mercy, bless this nation,
that we may be a nation of mercy.
Amen.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes,
www.unfoldinglight.net
Used with permission

About Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Steve Garnaas- is a retired United Methodist pastor. He and his wife Beth live in Maine. He often leads retreats on prayer, poetry, and renewing our language about God. He writes a lot of church music.  “I am trying to be here now,” says Garnaas-Holmes.

Unfolding Light

Unfolding Light is a daily reflection rooted in a contemplative, creation-centered spirituality, often inspired by my daily walk in the woods. In poems, parables, psalms, thoughts, and the odd weather report I hope to invite readers into a spirit of presence, compassion, justice, and delight. Though these writings are rooted in the Christian story you’ll hear in them melodies of many traditions. Unfolding Light is for anyone who wants to be a part of God’s healing of the world. You can receive Unfolding Li

Photo by Spenser Sembrat on Unsplash

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

 

 

Lamenting in Haiku: Kairos Response

Breathe, pause, listen, hear
Spirit awakens wonder
Pause, embrace beloved

Deb Tripp

struggle to let go
refocus and re-engage
as part of the whole

Theresa Schaudies

Alienation
Seeking different Gods we become
Alien nation

Tom Cashman

Oh, the powerful pause
Helps me listen much better
It is space for Grace

Tressa Peterson

Broken heart exposed
Pain, anger, sadness cry out
Love is here, waiting.

Wendy Bryant

May I be aware
Of Holy Spirit guidance
And very grateful.

Tressa Peterson

Intention toward You
Giver of love Who gives all
Bend my heart in love

Lynne Benson

With wonder….wander
Intentional wandering
Is not squandering

Kathy Bentall

Written by: Lynne Benson, Kathy Bentall, Wendy Bryant, Tom Cashman,
Tressa Peterson, Theresa Schaudies & Deb Tripp
are part of the Selah Community

Embodied

To Uvalde in Memoriam

I was in the woods at 8 tonight it was similarly quiet, and they were singing here too
I did not feel joy nor peace 

I asked to the Divine to offer grace, tender love, comfort to 21 families tonight
in Texas whose lives were shattered today 

I’m so glad I quit Facebook otherwise I’d be ranting at guns and conservatives

Somehow, there is a way to walk in the absolute terror in this world
Hold the space with injustice and cruelty ……
While aiming my own pathway toward peace 

I feel unable to do this 

And …. the Divine?
She will light the way

By Jeffrey,
Selah Community

A Prayer in Spring

“Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;

And give us not to think so far away

As the uncertain harvest; keep us here

All simply in the spinning of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,

Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;

And make us happy in the happy bees,

The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird

That suddenly above the bees is heard,

The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,

And off a blossom in mid-air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,

To which it is reserved for God above

To sanctify to what far ends He will,

But which it only needs that we fulfill.

By Robert Frost

About Robert Frost

Robert Lee Frost (1874 – 1963) was an American poet. Known for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech, Frost frequently wrote about settings from rural life in New England in the early 20th century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes. Frequently honored during his lifetime, Frost is the only poet to receive four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1960 for his poetic works. On July 22, 1961, Frost was named poet laureate of Vermont.

 

Hosanna

 

I will wave palm branches today.
Yes, I know they will be burned tomorrow;
I know my praise will turn to betrayal.
My hope will vanish into terror.
I know my passion for justice will be swallowed
by my lust for safety.
I know.
But I dare to trust my fickleness will be redeemed,
and is already.
I dare to believe now because I can,
even if later I will recant.
I dare to call for justice
though I myself will delay it.
I dare to have joy, even before the disaster,
because I know I will have joy again.
God has already blessed my brokenness,
transformed my evil, conquered my death.
This is my faith: that in the face of my sin
I rejoice.
In the face of evil I have hope,
in the face of failure I am confident,
in the face of death I live life.
How revolutionary, to rejoice in the face of despair!
Mortal, flawed, inadequate and doomed,
I wave my palm for the Beloved.
And the Beloved smiles.
Hosanna in the highest. 

Steve Garnaas-Holmes,
Unfolding Light
unfoldinglight.net

Would I?

Would I recognize you Jesus if you rode into
town on public transit?

If you stepped off a bus in filthy blue jeans
and a tattered coat carrying a bedroll and backpack,
would I see your holiness?

Would I see you tenderly, quietly lay your
hand on the man sleeping in a doorway?

Would I hear your gentle voice when you
spoke to the mumbling, disconnected,
bent over woman pushing a shopping cart?

Would I recognize how your compassion
connected with the sullen, pocked-faced,
wild-eyed teenager as you shared a laugh and
your coffee?

Would I turn away from you, a man
who looks down on his luck, and go about my life
“serving Jesus?“

Or would I, for a moment, glimpse my King,
no show, no theatrics, no pomp,
the radical, servant Jesus,
the confident, silent Jesus, the unexpected,
triumphant Jesus?

Open my eyes.

by Zoanna Pearson
Selah Community

O Incomprehensible One

O Incomprehensible One,
you have taken the sharp knife of this life
and hollowed me out.
Scraped my insides.
Everything taken. Scoured. Empty.
You have punched holes in me
in painful places.
Helpless.
The wind blows through me.

And what is this?
Flute music!
             -Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Ah, flute music. “Really, God, that’s the way the music happens?” It’s the cry and joy of my life to experience the emptying that takes place as a result of pain. The cry comes from the act of scouring that grates, rubs, bruises my soul. Yet, as a result of the pain, joy comes in the music that plays through my holes. It’s not usually right away. In fact, I’m not sure the joy ever is immediate. Instead it comes after the place of helplessness. In that long waiting pause between punched holes and wind blowing, I often wonder if there will ever be music.

It’s not unlike the waiting we’re experiencing during Lent. From the dust-to-dust reality of Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, it’s a long pause. An ongoing of emptying more, and then some more, and then even more. Will there ever be music again? Will there be a place of celebration for new life?

How do I wait there? Part hope from previous times where new life showed up. Part discipline by abiding in the container of Lent that sustains me with grace. And finally, part trust in the Incomprehensible God who has never failed me yet. I’m reminded in this space that all I can pray is what Teresa of Avila prayed: “Oh God, I don’t love, I don’t even want to love, but I want to want to love you!” That’s how I wait for the music.

by Sandy Shipman
Selah Companion and Flute Player

Thoughts in Silence

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton

submitted by Doreen Olson
Selah Community

Merton, Thomas. “Thoughts in Solitude,”
NY, NY: The Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani. 1956