Year In Focus: Selah…

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I’m a shallow breather. Every now and then I end up taking a huge, full breath. It’s like I’m having to catch up. At 60, I’m used to the pattern. In fact it’s so natural for me that I often don’t realize that I’m doing it.

But those around me do, and they regularly ask me if something’s wrong because I sound like I’m sighing—at least that’s what I’ve been told. It’s gotten to the point that my husband asks, “Breathing or sighing?” He doesn’t want to assume and he wants to be sure I’m okay.

I don’t know how long I’ve done this. I asked a doctor once about it, but they sort of blew the whole thing off as a non-issue. So I don’t worry about it.

But I wonder. This forgetting to breathe sometimes feels like a metaphor for my life. I move at a pretty fast pace. I take on a lot. A little improvement has come with age and awareness (aka acceptance) of my limitations.

How does this apply to my theme this year of stillness and rest?

I’m glad you asked.

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I need to learn to pause. I can’t keep going at a speed that leaves no room for breathing.

Last week I was reading in Psalms, the prayer book of the Bible, and I noticed a word I tend to skip over. My New Living Translation uses the word “interlude.” Older translations have the word, Selah, set off to the side. Essentially, the word is an invitation to pause. To take some time consider the previous verses—to let the Truth sink in deeply.

I don’t know about you, but I like that…I need that. And not just when I’m reading scripture. I need to schedule in time to reflect the same way I am intentional about getting up and moving each hour (Thank you FitBit).

My recent reading about sabbath reinforced the truth that it is not simply empty inactivity, just as spiritual fasting isn’t merely not eating. Pausing to catch my breath isn’t Selah. Inherent within Selah is the spiritual practice of reflection, listening, and focus. It won’t happen unconsciously or outside of my intention.

So today, I will be looking for moments to stop, breathe, and reflect. I hope you find some, too.

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