Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Adv-Christm-any: Cheat Sheet for Bible Project learning at the Epiphany!

We are not done yet.

I know I know.  We are tired.  I am an Epiphany enthusiast in theory, but in practice, I am usually a bit wiped out by the time I get to the 3rd day of Christmas.  Still, as much as we rush to bring the Wise Guys into the scene, their place in this story is critical for what the incarnation means (both positively and negatively - the anxious bloodshed it provokes). 

Strangely, we start with a word that isn't in the texts.  However, the cross-cultural dimensions of what a soul is are important for the broader picture.

Then, of course, we have Matthew, the only place where we find the visit of the Wise Men, Magi, perhaps Kings.    A brief introduction to the first part of this gospel. 

In the Isaiah lesson Exile is an important idea, and so to it is a deciding voice in the whole text of the Hebrew scriptures, and then not unexpectedly, the Christian scriptures.

And our last video for this series is about the setting, not only how geography matters for some texts, but the ways in which there are layers of meaning in the depiction of settings in the Bible. 

I hope this adventure has been a blessing for you and your lifelong learning in faith.  It isn't enough that it has entered your intellect, the challenge is always how does it become incarnate in your life? If you are left with more questions (alleluia) how are you going to commit to exploring them?  In the lectionary churches, we can sometimes be left to our own devices for figuring out how these different scenes connect to a larger salvation history.  May this Adv-Christm-any journey enrich your faith and enlighten your relationship with the Holy Trinity through the practice of continuing study and prayer. 

Oh yes - the three questions - good for many settings and lessons.
  • What leaped out at you? 
  • What do you want to know more about?
  • How does God speak to your life in these summaries?
May your light so shine - always and forever in union with Christ Jesus and his faithful people.

Adv-Christm-any Cheat Sheet: User's Guide for Community Formation

The Cheat Sheets are already (almost) altogether.  For those of you who are staring at the calendar today and wondering what in the world you might do to foster lifelong formation while hearts are warm and attention both more focused and doubly divided??  Perhaps you look at my lists of videos and think - how do I make this work for lifelong learning in my setting??

Here are the links to the cheat sheets for each week (in order).  

Advent 1
Advent 2
Advent 3
Advent 4

1.  Look at how much time you have.  If it is the typical 45-minute hour between services then you many not want to use all the videos each time.   What do your people most need to hear at this moment?
2. Sketch out a plan that has an opening of some sort.  An on-board funny question or simply check in (depending upon the familiarity of the expected group.)  If there are strangers please oh please invite people to share their name!!!!!  Schedule out a plan that mingles videos with dialogue, and research time if there are solid 'want to know more about' queries.  Watch the videos on your own and be ready to discuss parts that are important to you. Be ready to cut back as needed and fill as needed. If you can teach from a debate stance, you may want to argue a bit with the way some videos are presented.  I would.
3.  Do not rely on the internet.  Which is funny advice for a formation plan based solely on streaming videos (and human contact).  There are several online services that can help you download and save an online video for your educational (and not selling it as your own) use.  I use one that can be found if you google the word off and liberty.
4. Gather a reasonable library that you know how to use.  If you are book-centric, then bring your van sized concordance.  If you are digital, then bring your device (and hope the internet works).  One of the core questions is what do you want to know more about, and not answering this question is silly.  Your answer may be I don't know, and you may have to call a friend, but many of the basic questions are probably answerable with a basic Bible study library: a Bible dictionary, a study bible, perhaps a commentary.
5. Be hospitable.  Be sure to have a nibble and a beverage of some sort.
6. Pray.  Perhaps a seasonal prayer, maybe the same one each time.  Or you could be extemporaneous.  But please, pray.

It occurs to me that this could be used while a group knits prayer shawls together.  It could also be used as an upsidedown format - where you get the links out and have folks bring their reflections and questions and you work together to learn and reflect.

Whatever you do - just do it with love and hope and the expectation that the love of God is always being born in our lives.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Adv-CHRISTM-any Cheat Sheet: Christmas Lifelong Learning - 5 videos in 12 days.

Christmastime is here.  12 days, starting on the 25th of December, of service and love and connectivity.  Perhaps you have plenty of time in transit to catch up a bit on your lifelong learning.  Maybe you are wondering what we just did and what did that song mean?  Merry Christmas, and let's learn and grow like newborn children.

Let heaven and nature sing.  The incarnation of God in the child Jesus is the revolutionary crossover of divine and earthly.  For post-modern-ish people, something leaping over comfortable categories isn't such a drastic idea.  However, it hasn't always been so.

God became flesh and dwelled among us.  Trinitarian theology isn't exactly a straightforward biblical idea, but it is part of how Christians came to share how they experience all the divineness of God in their encounter with Jesus, who was alive at a certain time, and also alive now and we feel this through the Spirit.  Complex, and a sacred mystery to learn a bit more about here.

Everlasting peace.  We may think we know what we are praying for and celebrating when we speak of peace this Christmas.  However, the biblical idea isn't as simple as a pop song.

We only hear from Titus in the Sunday lectionary on one day/night of the year.  It isn't the familiar poetry of the prophets nor the tenderness of the Luke or the daring prologue of John.  Yet it does belong here - that the salvation of the world isn't by staying out of the mess - but by being present with righteousness in the muck of the world. 

There are always three good questions for your lifelong learning in the way of Jesus. Perhaps you want to journal or comment on your responses.

What leaped out at you?
What do you want to know more about?
How does God speak to your life in these summaries?

And two more - how do these videos foster deeper faith and bigger questions this Christmas season?  Is this the not religious best Christmas song, ever? Discuss.

Adv-Christm--any Cheat Sheet: Bible Project Video Learning for Advent 4

Can you feel it?  Christmas is almost here.  But also not quite yet.  We have rewound from our last Luke lesson and you will almost certainly hear the Magnificat this week.  My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and so on.  In one of the Luke lessons today it mentions that creedal-ly famous description of the Spirit of God coming upon Mary.  Biblically - how is the Spirit mentioned, and the understanding of it developed?

In the entire three-year lectionary cycle most folks only hear from Micah three times (Episcopal lectionary had an additional Micah lesson). A mix of dire warning and turns toward hope, the later were of particular interest to the earliest Christians.  Discover why.

There are people who dwell so much with scripture that the characters are almost friends or neighbors.  There are also people who struggle to connect with characters who are usually not fleshed out nor what one might expect if you think holiness is sugarcoated.  Learn more about character development (in the narrative) from a biblical mindset.

Lastly, we come to the opening chapters of Luke.  All of which are structured to borrow authority from the ancients to tell about the birth of a new day, and to illustrate how this new day comes from within the pious roots of ancient Judaism.  Spoiler alert: no force sensitive mitochondria.

There are always three good questions for your lifelong learning in the way of Jesus. Perhaps you want to journal or comment on your responses.

What leaped out at you?
What do you want to know more about?
How does God speak to your life in these summaries?

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Adv-Christm-any Cheat Sheet: Bible Project Lifelong Learning Part 3

Third Week of Advent! Rockin down the Highway!

The awe and wonder of God's compassion for a broken and lost world widens our focus for this week of Advent. 

Metaphor matters when we are trying to sketch the relationship of heaven and earth.

If I am deeply honest some of the Hebrew prophets, besides Isaiah and Hosea, get deeply confused in my mind.  Some are more sour than others, most have a depth of intention that can seem lost in the sands of time.  So a refresher on good ol Zeph.

Several of the readings push at an experience of the creation that isn't as broken and torn as it is now.  There will be rejoicing and no more will there be sinful bloodshed.  Hope isn't a word in the texts this Sunday, but it is all over (some of) the readings.

Lastly we have one of the most important concepts in this season.  I would want to complexify some of the messiah concepts especially in Jewish writings that are closer in time to Jesus birth.  Exactly what people were thinking when they asked Jesus if he was the Messiah are much more complex than what can be covered in this short video.  Maybe they will make an advanced messiah studies video!  

As always the three questions:
  • What leaped out at you? 
  • What do you want to know more about?
  • How does God speak to your life in these summaries?

Adv-Christm-any Cheat Sheet - A Bible Project Video Plan (part 2)

2nd Week of Advent

Still with me on this cheat sheet for Advent?  How are the wisdom and insights informing how you encounter the texts of the season - both the official ones and the Winter Wonderland variety?  Now we hear about wildernesses, hanging out down by the river, and highways and byways.

This week the lectionary offers a gospel text for the Psalm - because the song of Zechariah is essentially a psalm.  It just isn't a Psalm.  So first a review of the literary styles of the Bible, and then Psalms (which is strange since there isn't a Psalm this week!)   And I repeat my little bit that I don't always agree with their total presentation of some things (David's is most likely an over credited psalm writer). 

In the actual Gospel lesson, we meet John who is baptizing and rabble rousing and challenging the systems down by the riverside.  This video dives more into the larger ongoings: free reconciliation when the Temple is charging, strange bold generosity and other fascinations! 

Lastly, today is a survey of the letter to the Philippians.  This is a season of sharing and an invitation to fresh discipleship. 

There are always three good questions for your lifelong learning in the way of Jesus. Perhaps you want to journal or comment on your responses.

  • What leaped out at you? 
  • What do you want to know more about?
  • How does God speak to your life in these summaries?

Adv-Christm-any Cheat Sheet - A Bible Project Video plan for Advent - Epiphany (part 1)

I really enjoy the Bible Project videos.  I don't always 100% agree with their scholarship or conclusions, but then I don't usually agree with anyone at that standard.  The videos are engaging and for a basic tutorial in the Bible that doesn't require much reading - the Bible Project is a go to. 

As we approach the Advent - Christmas - Epiphany cycle it occurs to me that this brief but busy time period is a good chance to focus on some biblical lifelong learning.  As long as you can stream a video and have 10 minutes, you are home free.  The suggestions below are all intended to tie in with general learning and the RCL C year scriptural themes.

First Week of Advent
We start at the very beginning - what is this sacred library and how did it come together?

Justice is a theme of the reading from Jeremiah and is as complex as the world is.  Good and evil, how we are made, and how we are reconciled to each other, and God, are all mixed in the concept of justice.

The gospel lessons for Advent this year are from Luke (not surprising really).  Each gospel book has a unique gift to our experience of Jesus.  This summary is in two videos.

There are always three good questions for your lifelong learning in the way of Jesus.  Perhaps you want to journal or comment on your responses. 

  • What leapt out at you?  
  • What do you want to know more about?
  • How does God speak to your life in these summaries?

Monday, November 19, 2018


Some days I feel like Mr. Rogers. 
I live in a rectory (parsonage), and I my office is in that rectory.
I have the pleasure of seeing my cats all day (I think they have gotten bored of me). 
I can eat my own food and make my own tea (my dish volume has gone way up).
Some days I don't even leave the property (not my favorite if days like that pile up). 

Yet I get dressed for work each day (I don't typically wear a collar, but I am dressed for the office).
I need to do that.  There are all sorts of reasons, but I NEED TO DO IT. 
It is getting my game face on, tying the cape, sharpening the stake.
I wear work shoes.
At home I typically wear flip flops (they should stay at home, at the pool, or in the shower!!!!) in the summer,
and slippers in the winter.
Yet now, I am here.
In the same building.
What would you do?

I need a distinction sometimes between what is work and what is home.
So I change my shoes.
I wear work shoes when working - or at least 'officing'.
And other things the rest of the time.
I change my shoes,
And often my top layer.
Also helpful to reduce the cat hair.

I feel like Mr. Rogers.
Moving from inside to inside,
but changing the garb.
I can see his zip-up sweater.
I can hear the trolley.

If you work at home, what do you do to make the distinctions?

Monday, November 12, 2018

Bread Heart Hunger - Communion of Saints and a Welcome Table

The evidence suggests that wheat was first cultivated over 11,000 years ago in the part of the world sometimes called the fertile crescent. Which is in the same region where most of the Bible takes place or is originally written down. Why and how and in what order the choice to cultivate wheat happened: that's debated. What is not debated is it is very hard to imagine our life and our well-being without it. We can do fantastic and amazing things with wheat but at the end of the day most wheat is produced to be consumed in very basic and simple ways. And like most basic starchy crops they would be difficult and perhaps silly to cultivate alone the exchange of time and energy wouldn't be worth it. Wheat whether it's in a loaf or a tortilla or matzah is communal. It is planted and nurtured and harvested in community and shared in a community. 

Our gospel from Mark is not a bread breaking reading necessarily but we're honoring the work of our Sunday School class today to learn more about the mystery of holy communion. The bread we will share they prepared and baked just for this day. And we're celebrating this occasion on the Sunday following all saints a day when we remember that when we break bread together in the Eucharist we're not just breaking bread you and me but we're feasting with the faithful and ages past and the faithful across the world and astonishingly the faithful who haven't even been born yet. 

Our gospel story today may have surprised you. In general any of the ancient authorities - like a scribe - they are usually the antagonist the people who are frequently trying to trap Jesus. Here today following occasion after occasion of the disciples being blind and wrong and stumped this esteemed stranger and possibly hostile outsider is entirely spot on. You may have heard the summary of the lesson before: the way of God is eternal steadfast love which is made known by loving all as much as God loves us. When writing a story there are details that you wouldn't even bother to mention because they are so mundane. I believe there's a lot more food sharing a lot more breaking of bread in the new testament than what is written in the ink and parchment. There's a pretty good chance that every time Jesus stops somebody is sharing food. It was the most basic norm of hospitality in his culture. When traveling they're most likely sharing dried fruits and probably nuts and flatbreads. When they are at homes there may be household cooked foods - and the item so normal that the writers don't even think to mention it: basic hearty bread. 

The reign of God that Jesus comes to love us into and propel us toward is one where he meets hungry hearts where they are and so to meets thirsty souls where they are. Meets us with steadfast love the steadfast love of God that the Hebrew scriptures tell us is the most vital quality of God. It's the kind of connection that meets terror with service and kindness. It's the kind of passion that is honest about what's broken in the world yet breaks bread with so-called enemies. In our gospel the scribe daringly comes into a moment where I imagine there's some breaking of bread and he shows that he knows what discipleship demands. He knows what living in God's way is to be like. It is the commitment to the least and the last and the lost because God loved first. It is trusting in the one Lord God of the universe with your whole self, just as God has trusted us with all this. 

The scribe, his answer today is exactly the mission that we commit to when we faithfully break bread together in holy communion. Every moment of Jesus’ teaching and feasting and praying with friends and strangers is in the grains and flavors the mystery of the Eucharist. So too is the presence of the whole church —past, present, and future— all who love God and worship at Christ's table. This eternal communion is a beautiful reminder that we are never far from the collective faithfulness of every generation. We are not alone in the struggle. Those whom we love but see no longer— in the communion of the saints they are filling us in hopeful expectation of the time when all will be all in all. All of us come to Jesus’ table broken and hungry and needy, perhaps like a scribe ease-dropping on a gathering. 

We come and it is here that we find welcome, forgiveness, and freedom. This is a profound and beautiful mystery but it's not done with fancy things. Everything our young friends have learned is good and valuable but ultimately this great thanksgiving it is a mystery. It is Christ's table and bread and wine and while I can tell you the bits and pieces about what we do we can't understand it as much as we are invited to trust the experience of it. All God asks is the mission named in the lesson today - we love God and all that God loves as much as he loves us. 

And that is so darn simple and so darn hard. So we return to each other. To the community of holy faith that is present in each piece of bread. I have had a song in my mind ever since we gathered to bake bread last week. And so instead of finishing with a prayer, we will pray with a song that I am going to teach you. Here is bread for the hungry heart, here is wine for the thirsty soul. Here is forgiveness full and free here at the table of the Lord.

Grace Episcopal Church
Pemberton, New Jersey

Stretch the prayers: yoga and my prayer life

I remain surprised.

Surprised by how spontaneously prayerful I found yoga to be once I really entered the practice.  I had resisted it for years.  The images of fit people balancing were certainly serene and attractive, but I still resisted.  I had long let go of anything that could mess up my floppy joints with bouncing and high impact moves, but nothing had really replaced it.  I knew enough to know that the roots of the practice were distinctly religious and religious of another religion that deserves respect.  So even when it was offered all the time in the parish where I served, I never made my way to the mat.

Then idiopathic impactful illness took over my life, and a physician suggested I try yoga.  Desperation and desire for greater well being and an authority making a recommendation - that got me started.   I soon noticed that learning the practice reminded me of childhood dance lessons - which were pleasant memories to be reenacting.  The time and attention to body and posture and breathing and balance cleared the constant clutter from my mind.  I knew rather quickly that this was more than stretching; and that pushed my careful resistance of the Om chant for a good long while.  (Until I learned that it might be connected to the primordial linguistic family tree of Alleluia - which is good enough for me.) What came as a total surprise was how spontaneously prayerful yoga practice is.  I find myself in genuine prayer without trying or planning or reading.  The issues and people and hopes and concerns just glow with me there, and not in any guided way.  I once heard that what is happening in your life is what is happening on the mat (imbalance, struggle, tightness, distraction).  And it is from there that I pray.

As a professional Christian it can be hard to find places to just be a prayerful person. That may sound strange - but you cannot lead worship and not spend moments counting heads and thinking about what comes next and wondering why a light fixture is dim.  To receive the ministrations of other leaders, to be in a place of connection and intention and not also be the maestro and not be in the middle of colleagues - that is a rare blessing.  When I am on the mat at a studio I am placing myself in the leadership of other leaders.  This isn't my band so I simply get to be present.  I do have a rule of life and ways of prayer that I follow in my life on my own, but we are not called to be humans in isolation.  We are made to be people in the community, being in the company of others is part of that prayerful gift.  Studios where the practice is a show and a chatter session I haven't returned to.  Studios, where we come and lightly greet and prepare, are much more my ambivert style.

It used to be said that we Episcopalians practice pew aerobics.  I think we practice pew yoga.  The ways in which we posture ourselves are part of setting an intention, of communicating with ourselves and others what we intend with our heart.  How do our postures and guestures lead to spontaneous prayer?  What would our churches be like if we worked as hard at lifelong learning as we do in a yoga session?  Does the idea of what is happening in your life is happening in your pew carry meaning for you?

What They Did for Love: Widows Might

There is a woman who for an extended period of time tweeted chapter by chapter paraphrases of the bible and when she got through the book of Ruth what she posted was I figured it out! Jane Austen wrote the book of Ruth! Now, of course, she got the order a little bit backward but she's not wrong about the similarities. Widows and other women whose well being and fortunes are decimated by the lack of good brothers and ultimately by the death of the men in their family is a common plot device in Austen's novels. If you don't know the book of Ruth it is of course about Ruth but more so about her mother-in-law Naomi. Naomi is from Bethlehem and she has married a man in another land: a neighboring despised enemy people. In a devastating turn of events her husband dies and both of her sons die so that she and her two daughters in law Orpah and Ruth are left utterly homeless and destitute. So Naomi chooses to return to Bethlehem. Orpah eventually stays behind in her country but Ruth accompanies her widowed mother-in-law into a foreign land. In today's episode much like the plots of plenty of novels and movies she puts herself in the sight line of a relative of Naomi who can protect and care for them at the very least. 

If it weren't for the biblical text my time and place and experiences I might forget how completely vulnerable women like Ruth and Naomi and nameless widow in the gospel can be. Yet today's texts lead me to wonder,  maybe when you have so little you're free. Free of the stuff and burdens that way a lot of us down. These women had absolutely no guarantee of any kind of better situation, they could have been greeted as the enemy and a collaborator. Yet they trusted in God's blessing and support and they dared to give their whole selves to the promise of a people rooted in God's steadfast loving-kindness. There are a number of widows in the new testament as well. This lesson today of a widow giving what amounts to pennies with true devotion. Well in my mind this is also the woman who lost a coin the parable of the woman who lost the coin and goes searching everywhere for it, and rejoices and calls all her friends when she finds it. Somewhere in my imagination that same woman is this widow and giving all that she has to God with the grateful delight. 

We will be beginning the stewardship campaign this week, and I don't honestly expect anyone to give all that they have like the widow today. Now - I'm not telling you not to do it if you feel called to be free of material and financial burdens and give it all to the vulnerable and repair this world - yes do it and how can I help? However, I am a pragmatic person and like you I have responsibilities and burdens and demands on my time and on my talent and on my bank account. Our stewardship campaign will be an invitation to reflect on all that we have and all that we need and to give thanks. It is a call to consider the preciousness of our God-given lives and this community. Our stewardship campaign is focused on three words - love, prepare, serve and it is absolutely intended to keep the ball rolling here to raise the financial contributions that enable the life-giving ministry of Grace Church. 

It's an important year in the story of this congregation. You are preparing to call a new settled priest to serve alongside you here. It might be tempting to react to the situation from the perspective of fear and scarcity and holding back and hiding your heads and waiting for the future to arrive. Instead, we challenge you to hope and trust like Ruth and Naomi and our nameless widow today and respond with trust to God's promise of generosity towards us. We invite you to experience this moment as an opportunity to put this mission in line with God's dream and prepare for this community’s future. Gratitude and sacrificial giving are not always the obvious choice in life. That is why it is an act of faith. I encourage you to take the time to prayerfully pray the three words (with actions) love, (hand on heart) prepare, (stir) serve (hands out). Three words to hold closely as you consider your promise to this life together. We hope you will consider three things in your pledge this year one is to consider making your financial pledge proportionally, and that you gratefully consider making an increase. The second thing we want you to consider is a promise to invite people in your life to experience grace church. There's a plenty of pain and loneliness in the world and there are people in your life who never ever been invited to find the kind of community and foundation of smart loving kindness that is present in this body of Christ. The third thing we want you to consider this year to become a planned giver. Planned giving is simply what happens to your money when you die. You can provide for the future in ways that the husbands of Ruth and Naomi could not. 

The specific reading we had from the book of Ruth today is not my favorite choice. It is not the example that I would want to set for young people in our life. Establish yourself by marrying well it is straight out of the parts of Austen novel’s that I don’t identify with and she was critiquing. But when I really stop to think about it there's no difference between the choices these women are making and my friend who works two jobs and is an artist. One job pays okay but it's not really what he wants to do. He has another job that doesn’t pay much however it puts him in the vicinity of people who like and buy art. A choice that isn’t that different from when I seek out writing opportunities that raise my church wide profile (or add popular hashtags to blog posts.) 

We know that plenty of you work or have worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. You may live in multi-generational households that may not have been your first choice. We know that all of us are living in uncertain times facing an ever-increasing real cost of living and a cruel gap between the highest and the average income. I, however, I trust that part of what you love about Grace Church isn't just the nostalgia and beautiful ceremony but the challenge to a better self you encounter in the arms of Jesus. He praises the sacrificial giving of the widow in our lesson today and calls on all of us to consider how we respond to God's steadfast love. Ruth and Naomi dared greatly to find grace in Bethlehem. 

Somewhere out there-there is a stranger a priest who's contemplating the idea that a new setting to proclaim the word of God, a new parish to love and care for God's people is waiting for them. That person is trusting that God is with us and that someone somewhere is also prepared and waiting to welcome that person in. I wonder how our gratitude can love, prepare, and serve toward the future you share with that unnamed stranger. I wonder what you will say and what you can share about what you are grateful to God for in the life together here at Grace.

November 11, 2018

6 Months On

I have to confess that I have been far behind in my posting of sermons and writings and so on.  It isn't that I haven't had the time.  There are a handful of half-finished posts and easily a dozen sermons hovering in my data. I am not sure what to call it, what is the word for having arrived and settled in and all being fine and self-care being good but still not feeling all thrilled-ness for no particular reason (and plenty of reasons).  The Ben Folds song Landed plays though my mind, and so I shall call it really-landed-ness.   Perhaps analogous to post-partum-ness, life is going on and well but hmm.  There are things of my most recent life that I miss - a constantly pulsing parish building, walking to cafe's, seeing the horizon.  Having moved and moved and moved I don't experience these missings as the end of the world, they simply are what they are.  Fall has deepened and I am still glad to wear my boots and layers, but putting away the summer clothes is still bittersweet.  I love exploring new places and have found a barkeeper who knows my name, and figured out where to find what I need, and achieved some preliminary successes.  But I haven't been posting.

I suspect that mostly this has been a tiredness of hearing myself preach, a little touch of imposter-syndrome and the above-named really-landed-ness.  (Also lack of convenient cafes with street facing barstool seats like the one I am holding right now.)  I have been a priest for 6 months and a solo pastor for 5 - between which I moved truly coast to coast.  Perhaps what I say each week sounded more interesting to me when I was hearing others more often, when I was only preaching every other week. 

Then this past weekend by blessing and by happenstance I was gifted with multiple reminders that while what I say may seem uninteresting to me, there are folks who experience it with delight and insight.  So going forward I will try harder to post more often, more texts.  Less really-landed-ness and more defying gravity.We are going to have to write this book of jubilation for ourselves.