Tag Archive for: Mary Pandiani

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.

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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.

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.