Today's Good News? It's that Notorious Handbasket.
"...the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed."
Do you know what it's like to find yourself in some foreign territory feeling as though life as you've known it has gone up in flames? Feeling like its all going to hell in a handbasket? A place in which you're certain, This time this really is the beginning of the end?
Maybe you're there right now, or maybe you are recalling such a time. Maybe your dear one is there. All sorts of roads can lead us to this place. Perhaps it is a failed business attempt or career move. Maybe a relationship is up in flames (not in the exciting way). Maybe you find yourself completely disoriented within the wilderness of your own false-self patterns and habits. Maybe it's the desert of your own empty-nesting, aging and/or mortality. It could be the foreign land of dementia or mental illness, your own, or another's. A life ended too soon can drop you suddenly into this place. So can nurturing the voracious lives of little children and emerging teenagers.
In any case, life in such a wilderness can mess with you, pulling your farther and farther from yourself and the very people, presumptions, roles and resources that have offered your nurture and stability in the past. Even more unsettling, wilderness to can upend your images, ideas about and ways of relating to both yourself and God. Dissonance that begins as cognitive can extend to emotional and even embodied dissonance. Discomfort arrives at a cellular level.
Reeling, disoriented, and likely contemplating the swift descent of that notorious handbasket is where Moses finds himself one day as he tends his father-in-law's flock. Just days prior to his run into the wilderness, Moses' identity was complicated enough as a dual citiizen of both the enslaved Israelites and the oppressive Egyptians. But suddenly, in addition to bearing that paradox, he is also an alien, fugitve, murderer, husband, shepherd and father. Moses' life and identity are up in flames. No wonder the flames of that burning bush catch his attention. And no wonder the fact that the bush is burning but is not consumed keeps his attention. This bush is Moses' own existential echo: a life burning up, but not consumed.
In the searing spaciousness and solitude of the wilderness, Moses turnes aside to look more closely at this metaphor for his life. He engages his curiosity (Opening Mind). And this engaged curiosity awakens God's voice from within this symbol of his own life, saying, "...the place on which you are standing is holy ground."
God says, in essence, Your life has gone up in flames. The names you've had for yourself have changed. The roles you've played will be different now. You may be an alien in a foreign place, but listen to me, you are home, you are standing on the paradise of holy ground, because you are bearing witness to the truth of your own life. And the most profound truth of your messy, up-in-flames life is that I am speaking from it's center.This is where I reside. I am that part of you which will not be consumed. I am within your life and there is nothing that will burn away my presence. In fact, all that burns and is consumed will only serve to reveal my presence more clearly. You are mine. And I am yours. We have always belonged to one another. Can you hear me? I am with you. Even more, I am within you. When you claim your own life, you claim me.
Soul friends whose lives are burning up today, or whose lives have come to a smolder and whose attention is focused on the ashes of what was consumed, can you hear these words? They are for you. I am that part of you which will not be consumed. I am within your life and there is nothing that will burn away my presence. In fact, all that burns and is consumed will only serve to reveal my presence more clearly. You are mine. And I am yours. We have always belonged to one another. Can you hear me? I am with you. Even more, I am within you. When you claim your own life, you claim me.
I know it's hard to believe. It was for Moses. He lowered his head in fear. This is our universal response. And then he argued. This, too, our universal response. Notice your own resistance. No need to repress or deny what rises in you. Only let it rise as you continue to stand before the voice speaking from the center of your burning existence. That voice which assures you, again and again, "Your own life is sacred ground. I am here." Can you hear that voice and your own resistance with compassion?
To look on both your deepest desire (which is always union, when you get down to it) and your resistance (which is another name for fear of growth), this is what it means to be a contemplative. And to be a contemplative is just a word to describe one who practices the willingness to be transformed into the likeness of Christ.
Soul friends, make a space today to notice what caught your eye, what ignited your curiosity or triggered your resistance. This is holy ground.
More to come. Until then, with love,