I have come to believe there are many chapters in the book of life. We have beginnings and endings, and many, many pages in-between. There is the forward - the opinion of others, and the table of content - an outline of sorts we wish to convey for how we see our book unfolding. But nothing compares to the conclusion, which is almost always different than imagined.
The chapters, yes we know them well, there are the pages we recall with pride; the ones we want to read and speak of over and over again. And then there are the pages we would much rather rip out and hope nobody discovers the tattered edge held tightly by threaded bind, daring to reveal that something secret or shameful once lived there.
It is in these seemingly insignificant and independent, yet daringly intertwined facets that our life story is written.
Words and the formation of, like the pivotal events in life that often define us, have incredible power. But so, too, does the blank page, the in-between and the empty that belongs to neither before nor aft.
I wonder how many of us notice the blank page? How many mindlessly flip to the next chapter like sheep following the bleating that bellows out before them? How many find the silence of empty, uncomfortable, a nuisance, an interruption or a place on which to scribble notes?
How many of us understand the essence of not serves a purpose as well? Perhaps even a value far more significant than the letter filled page.
There is a word in the Bible which appears over 70 times. It is italicized and often in smaller font and off to the side so as not to get lost in the sea of words posturing for attention. The word is Selah. Truthfully, for many years I read over it as if a footnote in Hebrew, which I had no desire to explore. A mirrored image of the attention I gave to life. It was only after hearing the word spoken - or maybe it was the brokenness in my life - that the word called me to learn its meaning.
Selah: to stop the music (life) so you may pause and reflect.
And it was in learning the meaning of this word that I realized pausing and reflecting was precisely what had been missing in my life.
That was many years ago and, since then, I believe that like the blank page that separates the chapters of a book, the pause or emptiness between the chapters of life has great significance, too. I believe the void asks us to stop and reflect with the goal to gain understanding. It invites us into the wait, and perhaps, just perhaps, the Selah stillness is to be an instrument which allows God to draw near and turn the next page for us.
Embrace the whiteness, the silence, the pauses and blank pages. Listen for their meaning — listen for the message that words cannot convey.
Originally published 7/12/16