Upcoming Events at Selah Center

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

Miss being a part of Living from the Heart 
with the community who walked with you,
the material you explored, the practices you engaged?

Do you have a longing for going deeper
 in your understanding of and encounter with God?

Want to continue your contemplative journey 
with the help of others who have also been walking along the road?

Join us in the first post-Living from the Heart 
offering for those who have already been a part of
Living from the Heart 
and others who have traveled for a while along the contemplative journey.

We will explore both collectively and personally the 
invitation toward integration and encounter with God.

Facilitators Mary Pandiani, Jeffrey Brusseau, and Edie Finnell
will lead our time of your engagement with God, others, and yourself.


$140 for both sessions
Register Here
Questions? Contact Mary Pandiani
at director@selahdirector

Happy Anniversary Selah!

August 20, 2007-2022

Message from John Kiemele, 
Founder and Director Emeritus

Dear Selah Community,
On this 15th Anniversary of our Selah Center, we want to extend our prayers and blessings for all the gratitude we feel. Thank you for fanning our community flame and for shepherding the movements of our collective hearts. What a deep and abiding gift to share this contemplative journey with you all!

The traditional gift marking the 15th anniversary is crystal. May we all receive the gift of God’s Spirit, clarity, and clearness toward the fullness of life that extends such experiences to others.

The contemporary gift for a 15th anniversary is a clock or other timepiece. May this birthday greeting be received as a reminder from the Creator of Time Eternal to take time for ample pause, reflection, and response to the Loving Presence among us and through us as a dispersed community of contemplative companions.

May God’s blessings continue to fill and lead us all. And may we remain in the awe and wonder of life with God.

Our hearts and prayers hold Selah,
John and Marissa Kiemele

Mary Pandiani,
Executive Director,
Selah Center

About Selah Center

Selah is a welcoming community that pauses, encounters the Spirit through contemplative practices, and grows together toward wholeness and loving others.
Learn more at SelahCenter.org.

About John Kiemele

John Kiemele
Founder of Selah Center
Seattle, Washington
Program Director
Rolling Ridge Retreat Center
Andover, Massachusetts

John Kiemele is a wellbeing educator and spiritual director who currently companions individuals, teaches various seminars and lifestyle classes, leads contemplative retreats, and also serves as Program Director at Rolling Ridge Retreat Center in North Andover, Massachusetts.  With a focus 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

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 74bb84bf-44fa-4899-b553-1df2c6fc2071_4_5005_c.jpeg

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.

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.

Living in the Paschal Mystery: Leading to Ascension

[This message was given at Kairos: Friday Morning Contemplative Gathering on April 29, 2022]

From Mary Pandiani, Selah Executive Director

Easter has come and gone for many. And yet, looking at the church liturgical calendar, we’re still in Eastertide, namely the 40-days before the Ascension of Christ Jesus takes place. These 40-days and Ascension are part of the story called the Paschal Mystery – a living remembrance of Christ Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, the Ascension (the rising from earth to be with God), that culminates with Pentecost (the unleashing of the Holy Spirit). The connection to the celebration of the Old Testament Passover reminds us of the lamb whose blood protects the Israelites who finally leave Egypt, leading them to freedom from slavery.

We’re called into this Paschal Mystery where we’re connected to the story as well. Our lives operate out of a Paschal Mystery – a life, death, and new life rhythm in the everyday and final death of our lives. That means we’re participating, in intentional and unintentional ways, with the 40-days and Ascension. We, like the disciples and followers of Christ Jesus, don’t quite understand the resurrection, yet want to believe in hope, that it brings changes in us and our relationship with God. The stories include walking the road to Emmaus, eating breakfast with the disciples, doubting and believing with Thomas who wants to see the wounds of Jesus. Confusion, joy, despondency, loss of faith, gaining faith, amazed, hope, and deep longing. These are the mundane and miraculous ways Christ Jesus enters into our world, different but the same, as a result of the resurrection. All of these emotions and new realities occur within the 40-days, inviting us to consider the change that has taken place.

Is that not like how change impacts us, especially the one where there is resurrection – a new power of and in life? We are grateful, excited, yet confused and dazed by the reality before us. We hold hope while wondering what’s next. When my youngest daughter left home for the first time at 13 years old (she decided she wanted to go to a boarding school – ask me about that story sometime), I held promise for her in the new experience, yet deep loss in no longer having her around. I was both faith-filled and faith-less. The liminal space of the unknown, yet newness, felt both awkward and comforting. How was I to enter into this change?

It’s in these places that lead to the Ascension where we ask the question of transformation: what do I need to let go of in order to experience new life to its fullest? Jesus tells the disciples that he must leave; he even goes on to say it will be better that he leaves. In his leaving, he offers something more. Or as Ronald Rolheiser suggests, “Ascension is to refuse to cling to what once was, let it go, and let it bless you, so that you can recognize the new life you already have with and within you and receive its spirit.”[1] There is new life in leaving, as counter-intuitive as that may sound, for that’s where new life begins.

As we live in this season of the Paschal Mystery, let us ask ourselves, what do we need to let go of in order that new life may arise? If we desire change and transformation, how we can move towards it, rather than cower away? Can we receive the spirit of life, revealed in these changes, that brings deeper and more meaningful encounters with God, with others, and with ourselves? Let us consider the invitation that the Ascension is asking of us.

The ascension deepens intimacy by giving us precisely a new presence, a deeper, richer one,
but one which can only come about if our former way of being present is taken away.
Ronald Rolheiser[2]

[1] https://ronrolheiser.com/managing-an-ascension/#.Ymh3hy-B23U

[2] https://ronrolheiser.com/a-spirituality-of-the-ascension/#.YmnKUy-B23

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

Selah Prayer

Presence
in gentle flow
in sacred rhythm

Pause
Pause deeply
Until your heart stops pounding
Until your mind stops racing

(selah)

Listen
Listen profoundly
To the silence
Until the chatter stops
Until the silence speaks

(Selah)

Respond
Respond freely
To life’s encounter
To joy and pain
To divine love
With love
With a cry or a tear
With dance or song
With life fully lived
in an eternity-moment

(Selah)

in gentle flow
in sacred rhythm
let it come again

Have Presence

by Troy Fenlason
Selah Community

In Solidarity

My plan for today is to share about the first of three temptations that Jesus experiences in the wilderness. But after receiving a note from one of our Selah companions, Zoe Pearson, I realize something else is needed. Here’s my wondering.

Before the temptations, Jesus has to choose to walk into the wilderness, a place of unknown outcomes and presumed scarcity. When Jesus enters the wilderness, he had no idea what will happen. In previous wilderness experiences for the Hebrew people, they fail to trust for their provisions. They are afraid and hide in their fear. What is different about Jesus?  What does he practice that gives him strength to face the temptations?

He prays.

What strikes me by Zoe’s note, and now I share with you, is that we’re in a similar place of wilderness, a place of unknown outcomes and presumed scarcity where we are we cry out to God for the people of Ukraine. What can we offer in this place of wilderness?

One of the gifts of Lent is the call to prayer. It is a time to intentionally seek to listen and cry out to God. In times such as these while our world watches those in the throes of war and displacement, it can be difficult to know how to pray or wonder if prayer does anything at all. In her note, Zoe sent me a NY Times article by Tish Harrison Warren (see below). The article speaks of the many ways people are praying for and praying by Ukrainians.

What compels me and Zoe is a video created by the Bible Society that shows Ukrainians, some in basements and bomb shelters, who pray Psalm 31:

“In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame;

Deliver me in your righteousness. Turn your ear to me, come quickly

To my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.

Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name

Lead and guide me. Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for

You are my refuge. Into your hands I commit my spirit;

Deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.”

The Prayers of the People

 

For Lent, let us pray together with them, in solidarity. For all the world that is broken, hurting, and torn apart, we remember that God is our rock of refuge, even in the place of wilderness.

 

“How readers around the world are praying for Ukraine”, by Tish Harrison Warren, The New York Times

Hand Over

Eternal Love,

May my pointing hands refrain from forging dark divides
and seek instead to guide along the potent paths of Love.

May my drooping hands retell of efforts sown and pauses reaped,
of wholeness sought and second buddings eager to appear.

May my wringing hands be still and simply fold in rest,
releasing outcomes, oughts and shoulds, reclaiming fear-tossed peace.

May my clenched hands unfurl strife, untether tight control,
and in the widening space receive and nurture and support.

May my open hands refuse to strike, suppress, exclude,
and rather gather silently with deeper sights in view.

May my cupped hands reach toward Love and find compassion there,
quickened to the hope-filled life,
to untapped gifts and dreams,
to Eternal Love.

John Kiemele

Morning Walk

The darkness surrounded

I turned on my little light

A few steps forward, then

Poof! Battery dead

Darkness came close

But then light came through!

A movement of trees above

And moonlight revealed shadows

All at once unafraid

No lamp necessary

The shadows just enough.

We walked on

Shadows our companions

Then the sun began to rise.

– Lisa Veitenhans

The Way of the Wilderness

By Mary Pandiani
Executive Director
Selah Center

For this Lenten season, I wonder about and wander into the wilderness. If Jesus willingly went into the desert, aka wilderness, there is value in exploring the way in which Jesus encountered his surroundings, himself, evil, and the presence of God. In these forty days of Lent, I ask God to awaken us to what might be revealed as we consider our world, our community, and ourselves. To approach Easter with a hope-filled heart, no matter what we encounter this season, God meets us as we face the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. This encounter with God moves in, through, and beyond the wilderness into places that extend the hope of God’s abiding presence.

What does wilderness have to do with contemplation? If Selah, as a welcoming contemplative community, is about pausing, encountering, and growing, then what does that look like in the wilderness? The wilderness provides certain elemental factors that offer space and time to reflect upon the inner workings of the heart. In this uncluttered and quieter place, we journey along, asking for pauses, encounters, and growth to open us to listen more deeply, both in the wilderness and beyond.

For the Mondays through Lent, I will explore the three temptations of Jesus in the wilderness as they relate to us. Through the lens of Henri Nouwen’s In the Name of Jesus, these temptations speak to the questions, triggers, and pulls in our own lives. Nouwen first explores the desire to be relevant, to be in touch with all that’s going on in the world, and to be in the center of it all, with the innocent-sounding yet provocative statement to “turn these stones into bread.” Then he explores Jesus’ response to Satan’s “throw yourself down” where Jesus confronts the desire to be spectacular, to stand out among everyone else. Finally, the third temptation of worship – the act of acknowledging who is at the center of our lives – Jesus reveals our desire to be powerful. Over the course of the season, each Monday, I will post another pondering about these temptations and the invitation that God offers to us in the life of Jesus.

– Mary

Below poem is by Steve Garnaas-Holmes – you can use this for this day or at another time.

Prepare the way of the Holy One,
make straight paths for God.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth.

—Luke 3.4-5

“The driveway into my heart is an obstacle course.
My trust of God goes up and down like a mountain range.
The words I say twist and turn around
what ought to be clear and true.
My thoughts are rough, rumpled and pitted and marred.
Roots of the trees of all my desires
have heaved up the sidewalk.

The wilderness where you, O Mystery, prepare a way
is my own troubled mind.
Simplify my trust. Undistort my eyes.
Still me.
Smooth my heart, Love, till you can roller skate there
with your eyes closed.”

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
unfoldinglight.net

Blessings for the Wilderness

Matthew 4: 1 – 11

Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[b]

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.


Footnotes

  1. Matthew 4:1 The Greek for tempted can also mean tested.
  2. Matthew 4:4 Deut. 8:3
  3. Matthew 4:6 Psalm 91:11,12
  4. Matthew 4:7 Deut. 6:16
  5. Matthew 4:10 Deut. 6:13

By Jan Richardson
Painted Prayer Book

 

http://paintedprayerbook.com

The first time they met, they were in the waters of their mothers’ wombs. On that day, John had leaped with joy at the presence of his cousin Jesus. Now the kinsmen stand together by other waters. On this day that they meet at the Jordan, they see each other with different eyes. There is a deeper knowing in their gaze, and in their recognition of each other a joy perhaps no less keen than at the first but with a wiser edge. Here at the river, John and Jesus have lived out nearly their entire lives. Yet there is still much to do; everything to do.

And so, grudgingly at first, but then with understanding, John the Baptist plunges Jesus beneath the surface. This, at least, he can do for his cousin, can help prepare him for the way that lies ahead of him. John speaks the words of blessing and initiation, raises Jesus dripping from the depths, hears the voice that proclaims from heaven, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

And then the kinsmen go their separate ways. Where we might expect the freshly baptized Jesus to begin his public ministry, there is instead a curious sort of inversion that takes place: Jesus goes into the wilderness, the landscape that had long been home to his locust-and-honey-eating cousin. There is something he needs there, a way that yet must be prepared within him.

Here at the outset of Lent, what can you see of the landscape that lies ahead of you? Might there be another place you need to go, physically or in your soul, before you are ready to enter the landscape that calls you? Is there a space—a season, a terrain, a ritual—of preparation that you need; a place where you can find clarity, and perhaps a ministering angel or two? What might this look like?

Wilderness Blessing

Let us say
this blessing began
whole and complete
upon the page.

And then let us say
that one word loosed itself
and another followed it
in turn.

Let us say
this blessing started
to shed all
it did not need,

that line by line
it returned
to the ground
from which it came.

Let us say
this blessing is not
leaving you,
is not abandoning you
to the wild
that lies ahead,

but that it is loathe
to load you down
on this road where
you will need
to travel light.

Let us say
perhaps this blessing
became the path
beneath your feet,
the desert
that stretched before you,
the clear sight
that finally came.

Let us say
that when this blessing
at last came to its end,
all it left behind
was bread,
wine,
a fleeting flash
of wing.

—Jan Richardson

Wilderness Blessing,”  Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons by Jan Richardson
© Jan Richardson. Used with permission.
Image: “Wildnerness and Wings” © Jan Richardson
http://paintedprayerbook.com