Friday mornings had become my most beloved time to practice selah. I’d scrimped enough in our budget to hire a college student to come and spend a few hours helping homeschool the children while I slipped out to meet women from our neighborhood for Bible study and prayer. No matter the weather, I sauntered slowly for ten blocks to reach them, a steaming Café Americano in hand, my thoughts all my own. One day I walked by the hardware store and smiled at Izzy as he greeted patrons at the front door. On our first visit to his store, to purchase a plunger, he’d given each of my kids a silver dollar as a welcome to the neighborhood. My grocer was outside too, setting up the day’s displays. He stopped to get my attention, telling me new raspberries had arrived and that they were glorious. He promised to set some aside for me, along with his wife’s homemade baklava. He knew my sweet tooth couldn’t resist.
I kept moving down Columbus Avenue and waved a greeting to our veterinarian’s receptionist through the office window. As I approached our church, I took a deep breath, feeling expectant. I was gathering with women who were so very different from me in age and life circumstances, but we were united by the grace of meeting together. Our backgrounds and philosophies were many, but as we pondered Scripture together, as we worshiped and prayed, it was with one spirit, one heart and one affection: Christ.
On my way home that day, I weaved through side streets I’d rarely explored to stretch out my time. A red door on an old stone church creaked open as a parishioner walked out, and the sweet aroma of incense wafted into the street for just an instant. I spied candlelight inside beyond the empty pews. In church history, red doors are a sign of welcome, did you know that? For centuries, red doors have marked holy places as refuge and safety. Red doors welcome reconciliation and healing and pronounce an invitation. And I did feel welcomed in, perhaps because candlelight flickering on my own table spoke welcome and rest in our home, an invitation to sit, to eat, to be known. And now, this new table, this new sanctuary beckoned me to be known too. I slipped in and sat beside a pillar near the back. The shards of color in a stained-glass window above the altar shone red and blue, a cross hung before me, archways and columns surrounded me from beside and above, and still the fragrance of burning perfume filled my nostrils. It warmed me as I inhaled, enjoying the flickering sheen of candlelight. All my senses were alert in this place, down to my fingertips tracing the grain of the warn pew. There was delight in the aesthetics, but also an echo of holiness, of heaven. I was drawn to release my burdens. To pray. To become wholly and completely vulnerable. To meet. To practice selah. Interlude was the rest that I was going to embrace as I let go of all I was holding.
This attraction to beauty had to be named. I knew I was designed to be a partaker and a maker of this kind of light, and in the small and the simple, as my tensions released freely before God in this place, my heart was re-oriented to the One who is Rest; the one who is Beauty, and whose beauty could transform the very shape and curve of my life.
Why did light flickering or music dancing or the color green take my breath away so? These glimpses of beauty were also glimpses of grace, and the more I saw them, the more I wanted them, craved them. C. S. Lewis wrote in his essay The Weight of Glory, “We don’t want to merely see beauty . . . We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it unto ourselves, to bathe in it, to become a part of it. . . . It is not the physical objects that I’m speaking of, but that indescribable something of which they become for a moment, the messengers.”[i]
Beauty was what my soul longed for, what it hungered for. But more than beauty itself, I wanted to trace this beauty back to its source. The source was what I really wanted. Shadows of glory were showing me the presence of God in my midst and revealing the Sabbath world to me in murmurs. It whispered its presence in great art and carved stone, in watercolor and fresh lilies, in sunsets and evening tide, in fresh lemon and parmesan and butter sauce. The echoes of Eden breathed into a dry and weary world and called out to dry bones to wake and to walk,[ii] to taste and to see what was good and right and lovely,[iii] to keep the feast.[iv]
[i] C.S. Lewis. The Weight of Glory (London: William Collins, 2013).
[ii] Ezekiel 37
[iii] Psalm 34:8
[iv] 1 Corinthians 5:8
Taken from Finding Selah by Kristen Kill. Copyright © 2018 by Kristen Kill. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com. All rights reserved.
Kristen Kill is a woman transformed by the delight of God. She’s the author of Finding Selah: The Simple Practice of Peace When You Need it Most. A contributing editor at The Better Mom, and co-host of At Home, a popular podcast with Sally Clarkson, Kristen is passionate about encouraging women who feel stretched thin with the truth that, even in the tension, God is singing over them with love. After spending the last seven years in the hustle of New York City, Kristen and her husband, Josh, are learning to go slow as they raise their five kids in the Pacific Northwest. Her days are filled with homeschooling, walking her slightly anxious hound dog, and putting off the cleaning for one more day. Find Kristen writing at kristenkill.com and follow her on Instagram @kristenkill.
Photo credit: Hallie Kill.