I am one who believes in signs, symbols and synchronicty. I find magic and messages in seemingly random moments, and my meaning-finding missions usually lead me to some pretty spectacular places.
My pandemic personality varies from day to day, and often from hour to hour. As a bit of an introvert anyway, filling hours alone til my “essential worker” husband comes home is seldom problematic. But there is something about the knowing that “out and about” is no longer an option, whether it’s getting back to work, lunch with a friend, a quick trip to TJ Maxx. It’s the being told “no” part that can make me anxious. Somehow, knowing I “can’t” makes me want to all the more!
One a recent morning when my pandemic personality was jogging from joyful to melancholy, I rushed to keep my brain busy. I flipped on the television. I flipped open a book. I swiped on my phone. I pulled out my journal.
And there it was.
The word selah, not heard on a daily basis in our home, was mentioned on TV, in the book I was reading, and in a blog, all within the matter of 30 minutes. Selah. This required further inquiry.
Selah, believed to be of Hebrew origin, is a term found 74 times in the Bible. Seventy-one of those are found at the end of a Psalm. It is also a term heard in Islam and Arabic. While religious scholars report that the intended meaning remains a mystery (how awesome is that….a word that remains a mystery!), it has been given the following implications:
To pause and reflect
To ponder over the previous information
To assign meaning
To cease and shift
The most agreed upon meaning, due to it’s frequent use during Psalms, which are intended to be songs of worship, is “silent pause”. Imagine a musical interlude where the voices stop and the instruments continue alone. Because the most obvious has stopped (the voices), the less obvious (the instrumental) can take center stage. It is in the pause that the often overlooked or underappreciated parts get their chance to shine.
Silent Pause. An interlude. To Pause and Reflect. To have attention shift to what has been lying in the background.
We are most definitely in a time of silent pause. Life as we know it has ceased. Our activities are slower, even if our thoughts continue to race.
As a little girl, I was never fond of roller coasters, but give me a ride that spins in circles and I can go for hours! I love the sensation of still spinning even after the merry-go-round has stilled, that dizzying feeling that you’re still moving.
That’s how the initial days of shelter in place seemed to me. I was still spinning, still moving, still working off of Life’s momentum. Then slowly, slowly slowly the spinning stops. And there is stillness. And Silence.
Selah. The silent pause.
Selah. The silent pause that occurs when our busy Life voices stop, and we are left with “just” what’s been in the background. Our quiet thoughts and prayers. The voice of God. The laughter of our children. The singing of the birds. When we silence the busyness of Life, when we pause and truly listen, what’s been subtly in the backdrop has it’s chance to shine through.
Just as we often don’t hear the instruments because we’re busy singing along with the vocals, we frequently miss the beauty of daily Life due to our focus on the daily frenzy.
This is not a silent pause any of us asked for. The reason is one for which no one would ever wish. The stressors and anxieties that accompany it are never to be minimized. Yet when faced with a “forced” silent pause, are we able to still our selves enough to listen to the underneath layers? Can we lift up and exalt all that has been hovering behind the to-do lists, meetings, and carpools? I hope we can.
Selah. May you each find the magic in allowing the quieter parts of your Life shine through.