Definition of Selah:
Pause, reflect deeply, take a breath.
I read it in a book. That's where most good ideas come from. During the month of December the book club I belong to was reading Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. In her chapter titled Argonauta, she wrote about the rhythm of a perfect day she had with her sister at the beach. The two of them were able to churn out creative writing during the day, respect each other's space, and come together in the evenings to prepare food and spur each other on with rich conversation.
This sparked an idea in my head. What if I could do this with some of my friends who want to create in every form and genera? What if we rented a house, with the specific intention of setting aside time and space for everyone to work for most of the day on projects they don't normally have time for, but then we came together in the evenings to make a communal dinner and fellowship over the defeats and triumphs we worked through that day?
And so I began talking out loud, and verbally processing this fuzzy, lovely idea. It's like I had seen a vague outline of something and the more I talked about it, the more in focus it became. It wasn't until I had talked with one of my closest friends, Lou, about this idea, that it shifted from being a nice thought to a call to action. She loved the idea and called me with the question one cold winter morning. "What if we try it?"
After kicking around more ideas and plans we arrived at a decision. Plan for a year or so and see what happens with it, or take a leap and make this idea take form in less than four months. We both agreed that if we didn't try it now, we would probably never have the courage to make it happen later.
We knew the worst that could happen was that Lou and I would be on our own writing, creating content, and at the end of the day feasting and laughing. So however this landed, we were excited.
We sent out an invitation to a few friends and acquaintances to see if anyone was interested. In the invitation we wrote,
We are hosting a retreat for friends to be able to pause their busy lives and take a weekend to carve out the time to create in all forms and genres. Whether you need space for business, peace, exploration, or wonder in:
Come decompress, fill up, and feast with us!
We had a lot of interest. People were curious and intrigued. But in the end, seven people committed to coming. Lou and I were excited and apprehensive. Once we knew who was coming, we committed to praying for them by name daily. In the planning process we both felt the desire to hold the vision loosley, to leave room to be met and inspired by the One who had given us the dream in the first place. And in so doing, there was room for God to weave together the details. We knew we were to plan and take care of the fringes, but it was an exciting adventure in trust to allow room for God to shape the concepts and visions we had.
The home we found was a comfortable cabin with a large kitchen. The back patio looked over an aspen grove and wooded area. A dirt trail looped past our house and into the quiet woods. Immediately, everyone made themselves comfortable, slipped on stretchy pants, and we began cooking a Thai curry soup. The fragrance of basil and ginger lingered in the air long after our second and third helpings of soup and naan.
With steaming cups of tea and assortments of chocolate we all crammed around the table on the patio. This space of vulnerability, where Lou and I laid out our vision and hope for the weekend, and asked questions we had prayed over and thought about for weeks, felt sacred. As everyone expressed their need for presence at this Creative Selah and what they desired to get out of it, there was room for honesty. Sometimes honesty isn't pretty. It looks like frustration, anger, fear, sadness. And yet, in that space, it was as if each of us was able to put down a heavy weight we had been carrying for some time, and take a deep breath. It felt like we were drawing near to the hem of His garment, and catching a glimpse of the kindness of God.
There is something comforting about solitude in a group of people you are at ease around, familiar with. We each had our work planned out for us, and had nothing to prove or need to impress. A quiet cabin, filled with friends quietly creating is an inspiring motivator. Something that stood out to me over the three days, was the beauty of silence and stillness and how comfortable everyone was with it. There was room to take the time to quiet our souls, listen and let the blue flame of creativity awaken the mind. There was room to listen to our bodies and challenge them with movement. Some of us crept out of the cabin in the early morning hours to make our bodies sweat by the lake's shore, and then plunge into the cold mountain water.
Some of us couldn't remember the last time we had been comfortable enough to walk by ourselves and took off for hours to just be alone, think, breath, pray. Some of us gave our bodies the gift of a nap in the middle of the day. And some of us, after working on projects through the majority of the day, rested with watercolor and paint brushes out on the patio.
We chose the name Creative Selah because of its meaning behind Selah, "To pause, reflect deeply. Take a breath." And our hope was to make room for silence and see what form of creativity would awaken. For some, they already knew going into the weekend what they hoped to accomplish. For others, they simply showed up and waited to see what would happen. In a way, it was a weekend of finding and remembering. Remembering what truly gives you delight and pursuing it, or finding and testing out things that maybe you were afraid to try. This was our prayer, hope and intention, that everyone who came would be able to take a deep breath, pause their busy lives, and see what awoke in the stillness. I think we all walked away with full lungs, rested hearts, and clearer vision.
In the feedback given, the only complaint? It was too short. For some, it took longer to get settled into the quiet, and by the time they were mentally ready to engage, the weekend was gone and bags were needing to be packed. We hope to remedy that in our upcoming retreat and tack on an extra day. We are currently planning our second Creative Selah for May 2020. We will post dates, our location, and pricing soon. If you or someone you know is interested please email us at Creativeselahmastermind@gmail.com and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.