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

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

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

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

I Wonder

Words from Jeffrey Brusseau….

I was in the desert, in the depths of the Grand Canyon of Grief. It was hot, dry, miserable. The walls of these cliffs are brown, sand, and burnt orange colors. I am walking and walking. Did I mention it’s hot, like 105? There is no clear path for me to follow—I don’t know where I’m going or where I will end up?

Lonely, exhausted needing some fuel, where will my help come from?

There is a watering can close by. I reach for it and try to read the word on the side.

S E L A H

I’ve not seen this word before. Opening the can I sniff inside, hmmmm, seems like water. I drink. It is ice cold, has ice cubes even! My body, my soul yells “Thank You!!” for the sustenance—didn’t even realize how much I needed this. Though I’m taking several long drinks—there’s more in the can. Where’s it coming from, I wonder?

For the first time in hours, I sit. My eyes see plants near me, cacti, mesquite, acacia, this question presses in on me—how do they get their water?

What I know is this. That can of water, sacred water, is left here for me. It speaks a language I can understand.

This miracle happened to me in 2017.

Today, in a moment of deep listening with an elder, wisdom revealed to me that Selah water has seeds within itself. Once ingested, these will sprout, only some of them.

A generous, overflowing love, a new way of being might emerge in a person.

I am that person.

These days I wander into the desert, filling up watering cans with Selah water. The next person who comes by this way, if they have eyes to see, if their journey has grief and deep pain, thirst will overwhelm. They will find this rusty weathered watering can, the letters on its side fading.

Their first drink is a surprise “how is this so cold, with ice in it, out in this heat?” Something holy beckons them to sit and rest awhile. They might wonder about this water and ask where the plants, on this barren sandy, dusty Canyon floor get their nourishment.

Rotating the can in their hands they make out the letters.

S E L A H

Wonder what that means?

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

Jumping Into Lent

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 during the season, 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.

—by Sandy Shipman
Selah Community

A Light Hold

 

Strangely
after years of more
clutching, grasping, weaving, planting –
more insisting all remains –
blew a gentle breeze inviting
something else for tired hands:
A light hold.

Ego’s habits railed and thrust
persistent drives and cloudy ruse,
surroundings also reinforced
resisting change, remaining closed –
and yet my heart pulsed life, real life,
open, curious, present, now:
A light hold.

Oh, the risk of loss and change.
Oh, how awkward not to hold
tightly as I have before.
What if suddenly I find
nothing – just nothing – for these hands?

Holding lightly feels like limbo,
unsupported, almost painful,
weak, unstable, vague somehow,
and yet that gentle breeze insists
hope and wonder, pause and rest.

A light hold needs not manufacture,
not exert undue efforts.
A light hold checks my expectations;
A light hold bids simple and less;
A light hold honors what is present,
receives all shapes, attends with love;
A light hold echoes deeper trust –
my hands do not form this life.
All they do as best they can
is hold this lightly,
savor,
share,
believe.

by John Kiemele
Selah Community