27 Jan

I was intrigued by the word “Selah” when I first saw it on our list of one-little-words a few weeks ago. This will be interesting, I thought. When I started working on Michelle‘s one little word this week my initial intuition was confirmed. Selah doesn’t have a sure meaning.

“Selah” by the dictionary is: “An expression occurring frequently in the Psalms thought to be a liturgical or musical direction, probably a direction by the leader to raise the voice or indication of pause.” In the Amplified Bible, it’s transliterated “Pause and think of that.”

Despite or maybe because of this uncertain etymology it turns out to be a lovely word to take liberties with. I interpreted it as I would if it were my word and what it would say to me.

My real-life poet friend Laurel and I met yesterday and when I mentioned the subject of “Selah” she recalled she’d written about it too. She has given me permission to share her Selah poem with you. I love how we approached this differently—one as a seeker of Selah, the other as a serendipitous discoverer of it.

Picnic tables in the park

Photo © 2016 by V. Nesdoly

Selah (I)

Period. Don’t move
from this place till you’ve chewed
and swallowed the thought.
Delay. Mute the music.
Take a breathing space
a rest, lull, time out
maybe not as long as a coffee break
but at very least
a poet’s line break
or comma’s worth
of time.
Some lacuna in your life
will give it wholeness.
Take a hiatus
from your hurry.
Stop and listen.
Pause and think of that…
and then carry on.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

Selah (II)

Where is it,
this place of rest I seek?
I never find it, but sometimes it finds me.
There I can hear my breath
and I know I am alive, still.
There, I am me, still,
with needs of my own.

I wait for the quiet to catch me

Surprise me with stillness,
sustain me with solitude,
only moments long but endless
in memory, cooling
the singed edges of my soul.

© 2005 by Laurel Archer (Used by Permission. All rights reserved)

(You can read more of Laurel’s wonderful poetry at her blog Four Parts Hope and her annual advent project Toward Christmas.)

Join us each week at Spiritual Journey Thursday

Join us each week at Spiritual Journey Thursday

This post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday hosted each week by Holly at Reading, Teaching, Learning. We are currently writing about the one-little-word each of us has chosen as our “banner” for the year.


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9 responses to “Selah

  1. joyacey

    January 27, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    Both poems are very evocative I like how they make me feel and slow my breathing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. margaretsmn

    January 28, 2016 at 4:13 am

    I love both poems and want to repeat them each again. I need to wait and listen and let selah find me, and when it does, I can take a break and realize that I don’t have to react that way. This is a lesson I have a hard time accepting. “a comma’s worth of time”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Donna Smith

    January 28, 2016 at 8:03 am

    Selah. Had to do that after each poem. Exquisite poems!


    • Violet Nesdoly

      January 28, 2016 at 9:29 am

      Thanks, Donna! And it’s so nice to have you join us on SJT!


  4. ldk

    January 28, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Thank you for sharing both poems. So much good advice in them. I especially need to “Halt./Hush” more often! Thank you , also for introducing me to Laurel. I’ll be sure to check out more of her poems.


  5. bobbietaylor

    January 28, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Thank you! Twice Selah-blessed is how I’m feeling! Each poem speaks to my need to be still, to be integral, to be me…maybe it’s the only child in me who grew accustomed to silence. Thank you for sharing both viewpoints–seeker & serendipitous discoverer. God bless you!
    There’s a place in me for both!


  6. hollymueller

    January 28, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Oh my – such wonderful poems! Words I love, that round out the meaning of SELAH: mute, lull poet, lacuna (Barbara Kingsolver has a book titled THE LACUNA), hiatus, comma, solitude, singed edges.


  7. dorireads

    January 28, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    Both are beautiful, but these lines are my favorites:
    at very least
    a poet’s line break
    or comma’s worth
    of time.


  8. Irene Latham

    January 28, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    Violet, these poems are gorgeous! I love the line breaks in the first one — makes me pause and marvel! Selah! 🙂 Like Doraine, I love the “comma’s worth” esp. Thank you so much!



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