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Selah


No one knows what the ancient term Selah means. It’s an enigma, found 71 times in the Psalms of the Bible and 3 times in the book of the prophet Habakkuk. I love how Emil Gittirsch puts it in the Jewish Encyclopedia: “Term of uncertain etymology and grammatical form and of doubtful meaning.” Hmmm…unidentified origin, unknown form, controversial meaning. Mystery! Sounds a bit like God, Herself.


Most scholars think selah is an instruction to pause. A poetic suspension that functions as a musical rest does. And rests, as my piano teachers and choral directors have always insisted, are as important as the notes. Give them full value, they told me.


Selah. A chance to breathe. A pause that ~ perhaps ~ causes one to reflect on the meaning of what has been read or sung.


So, I’ve paused in my posts for several months. I didn’t set out to pause, I just did. But why? I ask myself. In this interim I haven’t stopped writing completely, but my thoughts seem as disjointed and disruptive as the world we live in today. The words that pour from my egoic mind are often angry responses to unkind and untruthful and distorted posts on social media. What disturbs me most are the shades of meanness and judgment painted by individuals who call themselves Christian.


But my soul – ah my soul – challenges me to use this anger wisely and kindly.


Someone recently posted a meme on social media that used Biblical scripture to proof text opinions about candidates to vote for in this year’s election. Harsh and haughty, you could almost see a finger wagging with accusation if you didn’t vote a certain way. I learned scripture differently. The teachings of Jesus, I was taught, are to inspire ways to live in love.


In that light, I will be not be voting for individuals who follow “the rules” (pretty much always rules to their own benefit) and whose anger reeks across the pages and airwaves. Individuals who try to frighten us into their ways and opinions.


I will vote for people who don’t try to tell me what they think I want to hear. I will vote for individuals who reason and who are open to others’ ways of doing and being.


I will be voting as best I can for women and men who have compassion. Candidates who look at outcasts in our communities and at our borders as the neighbors Jesus talked about loving.


Who do not steal from the poor and the struggling to benefit the themselves and big corporations.


Selah


I will vote for those who support the rights of women, especially reproductive rights. If you are a woman or couple who does not want to get pregnant – for any reason – please sit up and take notice that there are those who want to eliminate that control, too.


Individuals who support all genders and who realize that there are more than two.


Selah


I will support those who recognize that neither public prayer nor religious teaching belong in public schools.


Around 1973 as a high school cheerleader I opened my eyes during one of those pre-game prayers and wondered to myself if God was pleased with that public show of hollow words. It was one of those profound moments when I sensed a direct answer, an answer that overwhelmed me with deep sadness at the shallow use of prayer. At that point I realized that I could not support public prayer in schools. It's not fair to God. And it's not fair to my friends who do not believe in a God or a god.


To those Christians who think they are persecuted I ask these questions. Can you own a Bible? Can you read it openly on a plane or train or in the park? Can you go to whatever church you wish to go to without having someone tell you a particular church or denomination is the only one? (I almost typed demonization…how funny…a Freudian slip of the fingers?) Can you bow your head at a restaurant and offer aloud a blessing with friends and family at your table? If so, then we are not persecuted, dear friends.


But – you say – it is persecution not to be able to offer a prayer at a public meal or before or after a public ballgame. I reply simply with my belief that prayer is not for show. It is deep, personal, private communication with God, Spirit, the Divine, the Goddess Herself, or however you name the Source of All Being. I learned this from Jesus’ own teachings in what is called The Sermon on the Mount.


“And when you pray, don’t be like the phonies, for they love to pray kneeling in the ballfields and at big political prayer breakfasts to be seen by others. They have their reward. But when you pray, go into the closet of your house and pray to the unseen but all-knowing God who knows what you need and will provide.” Jesus. (Reference Matthew 6: 5 and following. Modern paraphrase mine.)


Please know – I can be that phony, too. Oh, not necessarily wanting to be seen praying, but impressed with myself when I was complimented on my prayers in church. I look back and think, that is like someone complimenting me for having a beautiful conversation with my husband. Silly, huh? Pretentious when I want to be known as “spiritual” in these writings. Self-righteous when I think my opinions matter more than others’. Hypocritical attitudes are so sneaky; they tuck away, and in my ego-self they hide from even my sincere efforts to shine a spotlight and eradicate them. But my aim is to be open to being wrong, to be honest and real with myself and others. Finding. My. Real.


Selah


Breathe


And Vote. Please vote. There are those who want to take away that great privilege, too.





Original photo by Dorothy Barkley Bryson. The Cove at Concord Park. iPhone8. 22 Feb 2022,


TO CONNNECT. I would love to hear from you and learn how this piece (or any of my other writings here) resonate with you and your journey to finding your own deepest self, your own Real. While these writings are about my path, my hope is that they shine light for yours. You can email me directly at barkleybryson41@gmail.com or you can also simply subscribe via the home page of this website. May peace and happiness be yours, always.

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amontgomery
amontgomery
2022年8月18日

I agree with you wholeheartedly, Dorothy! Reproductive rights are fundamental. If we do not have agency over our own bodies, what do we as women have? You are right about the praying in public places issue when Jesus so clearly called out such hypocrisy. It is disheartening that so many people who say they speak in the name of Christianity have no idea what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount--either that, or they have decided not to follow his teachings. I applaud you for speaking out on the divisive issues of our day and time. We live in a part of the country where speaking out is not without consequences, especially for a woman. I honor you, Dorothy,…

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