An Exercise: “Selah”

Every month I write a short message for a couple of Lutheran church newsletters (Mount Calvary in Excelsior and Faith in Waconia, two of my partner churches).  It’s called “A Spiritual Fitness Exercise”, intended to give readers a simple tool for exercising their spirit and their soul.  Since there isn’t a lot of crossover between readership of the newsletter and this blog, I thought I’d start sharing them here as well.  (And I’ll also start posting past exercises in future blogs too)

April 2013


As I sit and write this month’s spiritual fitness exercise, I’m fairly consumed with yesterday’s events.  Yesterday there was a bombing at the Boston Marathon.  By the time you read this there may be an abundance of new information available regarding the event, but today we only know the “what, where and when.”  What we don’t know, is “the who and the why.”

So, how to respond?  What I want to give you here isn’t an exercise as much as it is a discipline.  It is a way to deliberately and intentionally react (when you are not directly involved) to a critical incident like the bombing.  “Selah”.  It is a word found in some of the Psalms of the Old Testament.  I first noticed it in one of my favorites, Psalm 46.  There have been many debates and studies about what the word means, but the general consensus is that the word is not directly translatable and doesn’t have a clear definition. (For extra credit, do some research on the Internet or at the library and check out some of the research).  But one generally accepted idea is that the word indicates a “pause” in the verse, a time of instruction possibly saying, “hear this”.

This has been my advice to many people these last two days, and a strong piece of advice to my action oriented self.  Pause and listen.  We just don’t do enough of that in these often chaotic times.  We seem to have two speeds: Go Fast – Stop Fast.  This is a good time to take the time to pause, to pause and consider what you just heard.  Then press “play” again and move forward, but hopefully with a little more peace and a little more understanding.

Take Care, Pastor Dan.