May 5, 2020

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  Don’t worry, this is not going to be about Mexican food, or drink. But it is going to be something really hot. Actually, this is a story about the burning bush. In 2011, I participated in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a group of 12 women. A few of us signed on for an additional side trip to the Sinai, including an over-night camel trek in the desert, and then traveling to St. Catherine’s Monastery at the base of Mt. Sinai.

St. Catherine’s dates to the 4th century C.E. and has one of the most amazing collection of icons in the world. There is also a burning bush, reputedly dating back to 1300 B.C.E, the time of Moses. It is a gorgeous, lush and green, in the middle of the desert. And just in case it should happen to catch fire again, there is a fire extinguisher next to it. If you look at the photo below, at the bottom left side of the bush, the fire extinguisher is visible. Go figure.

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It begs the question, why? Why do we feel the need to capture on film, or in a painting, or by putting up a tent (as Peter suggested on the Mount of Transfiguration), or by placing a fire extinguisher near the Burning Bush? 

Saturday, I had one of those brief and all-too-quickly passing moments of peace and presence and at-oneness with God. I was walking near my home and crested a hill. I looked up and out, over the valley created by the North Fork of the Shenandoah River, with mountains in the background and a blue sky with lovely white clouds. Everything seemed perfectly clear. It seemed that the rain had washed this little slice of creation clean. Every tree, bush, flower was distinct, beautiful, perfect. I had a sense of peace, as if everything had suddenly come into perfect focus for one moment, and time had stopped.

And then, I thought (and this is the moment the “being” stopped), “I need to take a picture of this.” And the moment was gone. But not gone, still lingering in my being, was the sense that a moment like this was pure gift, transcendent, an instant of connection with the One who is. And that might not have been captured with a picture, but it is captured in my being. And that moment was enough. 

No fire extinguisher needed. ~ Anne

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