Learning to Turn Aside

TT - Prince of Egypt

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ He said further, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. — Exodus 3:1-6

Where does our encounter with God begin? Where are the first traces of the divine felt? We can tread the same place or idea for years and years — until one day, our eyes and heart are open and they catch that glimmer, that spark, that surprise and God calls our name.

Aristotle said that all philosophy begins in wonder, and we can add, so does all worship of and encounter with God. There is something of excess that catches us up short, turns us aside to see something different, and eventually calls us by name.

What is our response? Fear? Terror? Wonder? Longing? Joy? How do we present ourselves to the divine calling us? The only truthful response is one without pretext, how Moses and others have responded: Here I am. Without ambiguity, without pretensions, we are summoned by the divine, before any mission or commission or instruction are given, God calls us by name. Our response must be one of openness, reception. The Other is about to speak.

But again, before we are told what to do or where to go, God calls us to stop, to worship, to acknowledge the world, our world, is now different. Ground becomes holy for us, whether that is a real change or merely a recognising of what has always been there, it does not matter. We must respond, we must connect to it. We need to touch, to become a part of what God has consecrated. We move from pure response to worship, to being marked and changed.

We all encounter burning bushes, traces of God everyday. Do we turn aside? Do we have the ears to her God’s call? May we learn to stop. May we learn to turn aside in wonder and see the marvellous things, imbued with the presence of God. May we hear our names being called, and may we know that our worlds will never be the same.

— Jeremy

PS: In case you want to see it, check out this video.

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