The Pregnant Pause That Refreshes

March 26, 2024

Reading Scripture, I am struck by the word “Selah,” that appears sometimes during a psalm. Is “Selah” a secret code? The name of David’s copy editor? Another word for “Amen”? Or “Hooray! Nicely written!” Is it just a nonsense word written once accidentally, and then repeated out of ignorance (like the story of the woman always cutting down the ham for her roasting pan because her grandma had had a small pan)?

Turns out, most Bible scholars believe that “Selah” means “pause,” and was likely an instruction to the reader (singer, back in the day) to take a break at that point. Just think! Even in ancient times people had to be reminded to slow down once in a while.

How about the famous Coca Cola slogan “The pause that refreshes?” Used for 40 years, this catchy phrase encapsulated the thirst-quenching aspect of the popular beverage, and also that slight caffeine jolt which propelled the happy imbiber on with the day. I hope the ad person who came up with this gem was well compensated! Maybe with a lifetime supply of Coke (capital C😊)!

Then there’s the term “pregnant pause.” I love this one, because I imagine someone stopping to think--for nine whole months. But really, it’s defined as a pause filled with meaning. (“Do you love me?” Bob asked Becky. There was a pregnant pause. “Nope!” she finally responded.) I sometimes made use of a “pregnant pause” onstage to add drama to my soliloquies (though actually they were to cover, until I remembered my next line.)

I was talking with an author friend recently about that charming phenomenon called “writer’s block.” This brain freeze can occur at any point in a writing career, and it is NO fun. No matter how much you’ve written, you suddenly feel incapable of scribbling another word. Your supply of super ideas is totally depleted (and even the so-so ideas have left the building). Realistically, the afflicted writer knows that this is a temporary issue. Someday the log jam will break, and the words will flow once more. But the block, while it lasts, is terrifying.

We’ve both experienced writer’s block, this friend and me, and while we talked, it came to me that we should think of these times as “pauses,” and not “blocks.” Just catching our creative breaths, a refreshing break in the action. Since we both have children, I thought we might frame these as not just pauses but “pregnant” pauses. We remember that, while it seems we are just getting fatter, expectant moms are also doing the very important work of growing babies. When the time is right, we deliver. Could we think of writer’s block that way? A necessary interval, during which we can feed our inspiration with reading and nature walks and conversation?

I haven’t written a humor piece in months. But I’m not panicking! My pregnant pause will end someday, and I’ll produce another bouncing baby comedy essay!

Meanwhile, I’m off to grab a Coke.



    I am an author (of five books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a retired director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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