Many a morning comes with cautionary tales, some of which are true. But true doesn’t always mean stop. We need the wisdom of perspective to let truth and mercy lead, especially when life comes to us as narratives that give pause. In the Psalms, Selah is a musical term often spoken of as a pause, it was meant for meditation. It is a call to depth over width. Maybe that is morning’s call to us too. I am listening for Selah today.
There was a moment last week that I took a photograph, from one perspective, on one mountain, looking across the immense canyon to the other, and I realized I can’t take a broad picture of the mountain I’m on. I can’t see me on this mountain covered in cloud. I can look down and see part of me, but I cannot see the whole of me or the place I currently dwell in large format.
However, someone else could just as well have been taking a picture of me taking a picture, as much as I am taking a picture of them unbeknownst over there in that misty mountain scene. A scene that looks much like my own, but I can’t know it until I travel to the other side some morning and look back and exclaim, “Oh! I see!” I too stood on a misty mountain, I too was surrounded by beauty!
Perspective is everything.
Mary Oliver says poetry is like a river and now that I live by a river I hear so many things likened to rivers through new ears and eyes of wonder. I stood by my river with a scientist this past summer and I admitted with pain that, even after two years, I know there is so much I can’t see here, not the way he could with understanding of all the geology and biology. I admitted, “I don’t know how to be here.” But, without hesitation, he said I absolutely did and he told me to just keep doing it, just keep being.
“It is strange to be here…” -John O’Donohue, Anam Cara
Sometimes we need to borrow another’s perspective for a little while.
When the rain falls on the agate rocks and their color deepens to what I never knew was there before, I say, oh my! What I once thought was drab becomes stunning, I just had to wait for scorching summer to pass. When the story that unfolds in the Bible tells of the children of Israel coming out of Egypt and how they were invited to participate in the making of a sanctuary…
ח וְעָשׂוּ לִי, מִקְדָּשׁ; וְשָׁכַנְתִּי, בְּתוֹכָם.
And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.
…I wonder, did they exclaim the way I did, finding color in the rock? Did they sense that the King of the Universe was stating out loud, just as He had in the Garden of Eden, that He wants to be with us? Or were they too tired? Did the dry smothering heat of Egypt still feel to hang about them, the way the mist on my mountain simply made everything soggy, not apparently beautiful like the other mountain I could see…even after they had crossed their canyon?
A midrash, an ancient biblical explanation, reads Exodus 25:2 to say “that they take Me as an offering”. This was to tell how when the Ancient One gave the Torah, the Bible, to Israel what He was saying to them was, “You are taking Me.”
To me this sounds like, the Tree of Life in the midst of the garden, and “The Branch”, Messiah, long-prophesied-of-One Who said, “Take eat, this is my body” when he gave His disciples bread.
These are surely narratives that give us pause. But, perhaps, there is a music here meant to lead us into meditation, maybe its a call to depth over width? Maybe that is morning’s call to us about the faithfulness of the Lord being new every morning, even when we can’t see through an educated lens like a scientist, or we’re surrounded in a foggy landscape, or still feel choked by a desert even after we’ve ventured into a new landscape, because we haven’t quite looked up yet and realized we are in the house of God.
“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.”
― Abraham Joshua Heschel
I am listening for Selah today. I am praying for us to see the life of God given for us to take within our very beings, to see how that leads us to being even more human than we’ve ever actually been, to seeing in a mirror dimly a little bit more clearly—because in Him we are fully known.
May the work of your hands overflow with a bountiful return
May the work of your mind light new avenues yet undiscovered
May the work of your spirit know it’s native ground
May the work of your soul dwell in fullness of contentment
May the faithfulness of the Lord astonish you today
You belong here, you are needed here, you are known.
Hello, I’m a woman, healing in my slice of wilds, exceedingly glad to send this out to you in your own. Let me know if it reached you, how it connected with you, and what have you encountered lately?
Also, share these words with someone else if they spoke to you today? You never know what can happen when we share…