Dusty Road.


Mary Pandiani
Executive Director
Selah Center

Years ago, I walked a dusty road up a gradual hill from Jericho to a Benedictine Monastery inside the mountain above. After missing the trolley, the three of us journeying together were tired. When we arrived at the door, looming above us, old dark wood that held a round knocker, my friend used it first to let the brothers from the Catholic order know of our arrival. We were hopeful with the remaining half hour available on the sign that said “Open” to visit the old monastery, especially in light of the Benedictine rules that say, “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matthew 25:35).”

No one responded. Looking at our watches, we knew we could still visit, given the hours at the cultural center below. My other friend noticed an outdoor landline phone along the side of the door. When she called, someone answered, and we could hear him on the other side of the door, inside the monastery. 

“Hello, we’re here to visit. We were wondering….”

Before she finished her sentence, a terse response came, “No visitors,” with a quick hanging up of the phone.

My first friend, a bit more impatient than the rest of us, tried again. 

“We’ve just walked a mile up the hill to visit. Can’t you let us in for a short bit?”

“No, we’re closed.” Then, again, the phone slammed down on the old receiver. We know the sound because of what my friend heard in his ear and what we heard through the door. 

Do you know what I remember? The smell of the dusty road and the old door. Of course, I recall the rude reception, certainly not one based on hospitality, and the frustration of walking back down the hill so soon after we had only recently traveled up. 

Why the dusty road? Because at that moment, I connected something I had only read about. Jesus also walked a dusty road, perhaps even this particular dusty road as it was on the way to Jerusalem. He also encountered rude people, folks you would anticipate would act one way only to behave poorly. While the monastery, ironically created in his name, was not there when he walked the earth, he also found large looming doors of people’s hearts, unable to let him in to enjoy the hospitality of one another. 

For Lent, I’m on a journey to become more acquainted with Jesus. Someone I’ve grown up with all my life, yet I’m often blind to how Jesus shows up as a human with whom I can relate. His journey draws me in. I find it when I connect my experience to what Jesus might have felt. Something comes alive in me. His life on earth opens up my curiosity for me. His physical and emotional journey widens my capacity to receive the Holy Presence intertwined with my life and the world. Maybe dusty roads aren’t so bad after all.



Mary Pandiani

Mary Pandiani, D.Min, serves as Selah’s Executive Director, leading the community and organization through its current transition period into future possibilities. Mary has served in various capacities for Selah, including as a founding board member, seminar/group leader, and co-facilitator for Selah’s extended programs, Living From The Heart and Way of the Heart. Mary is a spiritual director and coach, co-facilitator for a spiritual direction training program, and advisor for doctoral students. Mary received her Doctorate of Ministry at Portland Seminary, and her work focuses on a posture of contemplative living across the seasons of life. Her foundation starts with a love for the God who wants to be known and a desire to help others to pause-notice-listen-respond in ways that lead to a deeper understanding of God’s divine invitation. With the support of her husband Bill, Mary serves Selah while also enjoying her family of 4 adult daughters and their families. Mary lives in Gig Harbor WA where she knows the value of beauty in creation and the gift of community.