The Selah Awakening

My fellow pilgrims, I’m writing to you from a train headed North. We’re pacing through the English countryside, watching the green covering of summer begin to evolve into the burnt, crisp colours of autumn.

It’s a welcomed occasion. Life has been moving quickly in recent days, I’m using this time to catch my breath. The ancient Hebrews had a word for a moment like this... Selah. It’s the pause, the space between the words, the margins around the page, that brief juncture, just before you breathe out again.

Lets pause and bear witness to it...

{ Inhale }

Selah

{ Exhale }

Did you feel it?

These are the most often forgotten, unaccounted for and rarely spoken of spaces and yet without them, we’d be lost.

The pilgrim takes notice.

The pilgrim sees the beauty in the breaking, the cracks and in between -intervals, where the light shines through, dancing in transcendence and colour.

The Selah spaces in each day are becoming increasingly sacred to me. My life is full and like you, I’m sure, it can often feel as though I’m being pulled along rather than gracefully directing the pace of my days. The never ending timelines, glowing screens, meetings and notifications numb the uniqueness within each day, rolling each one into the next. In the last week alone I’ve flown 8 thousand miles, had days packed with meetings, caught numerous trains, recorded music, played shows and started new projects. I don’t say that to impress you but because these words are truly real to me and because the Selah awakening is becoming an oasis for my soul, I need it. If it can be true for me, it can be true for you.

I grew up to find a word I could fit in my pocket, a universe in my palm. I became a man in the age of the documented and the perfected, the connected but the distant. Every single day I run the risk of scrolling through my twenties, as I linger over the image of someone else’s brunch, missing the moments I was made for. Out relationship with technology is no different to any other, we fell in love with no certainty of where this was going, without knowing everything there was to know. Well, now we know a little more. We’re realising our “connection” to these devices are a little more toxic than we had first anticipated. With all their potential for aiding and advancing our race (I’m using one to write to you at this moment) we’re having to confront the addiction and destructive behaviour that is being produced, as a result.

I know it isn’t just me, Social anxiety has become a way of life for my generation because never before have we had the task of being compared to our own digital facade. We have become so self analytical, self preserving and driven towards perfectionism, we’re quite understandably overwhelmed.

When we obsess about a world in our hands we’ll forget the world that beats within us.

Despite this incredible moment in human history, when technology and access to information advances with unprecedented pace, the pilgrim sees it all as fleeting, still infatuated with one and only one question.. does this make us more human? For isn’t that the goal, to become human? I’ve got lofty ideas of what it is to be human because I think we’re more then flesh and bones in the same way a house is more then brick and mortar when someone calls it a home. I think we’re walking miracles with shadows, equations that don’t add up but still manage to tie shoelaces.

I believe that the image of the divine was revealed in the man Jesus and yet the image of humanity was revealed within him also. A humanity that transcends our cynical and limited perceptions. A humanity that doesn’t rush but walks in the rhythm of love, careful to not simply notice but know the person before them. A humanity that is as inclusive as it is truthful, that speaks out against injustice and falls silent when pride and judgment begin to heckle.

Jesus reveals a humanity that is free of facade, naked of ego and utterly and completely.... Relaxed (as described by the late Dallas Willard).

What a definition to receive in this frantic, hustle orientated world. Imagine being remembered as one who was... “relaxed”.

We are pilgrims, we have much to do and many places to go but as we’ve been learning, how we go is more defining then where we go.

Who I am on the plane is who I am when land.

I’ve come to learn that observing the Selah spaces and keeping the margins, defines the words upon the pages of our lives. We remember again that we are not human doings but human beings, were not tools in the belt of a workman but pictures in the pocket of a father. We were created to be enjoyed, not simply used. I have found that the mundane and normalcy of our existence, offers plenty of spaces for selah.

It is the art of observing the in-between and as an invitation into the holy.

  • Washing the dishes and humming a song of gratitude

  • Getting on the bus and reading a book instead of scrolling

  • Waiting in line at a shop and observing the rising and falling of your breath

  • Closing your eyes in the shower and speaking out a simple prayer as the cleansing water washes your skin.

  • Dancing in your kitchen as the food cooks on your stove

  • Making eye contact with and smiling at strangers you pass in the street.

Pilgrims, may this letter be a simple prompt for us all to return to Selah. May we put down our tools and pick up our hearts. May we pause to see the light shining through the cracks in our days, in our minds and our souls.

Joshua Luke Smith