God said, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. Ex 3:5
Moses and the burning bush. Such a famous story. Moses, after having killed an Egyptian, afraid that Pharaoh will kill him in return, flees to Median. A thing leads to another and he marries Zipporah, one of the priest’s seven daughters. He is taking his father-in-law’s flock to Mt Horeb when he comes across a burning bush. Looking at the picture above, I can imagine a bush in flame not far from the person sitting in the forefront.
Moses is forever Charlton Heston in my mind, even though after reflection the actor’s physique makes him such an improbable Moses. My mind skirts the issue and feels drawn to the fire like a moth to a flame.
This biblical passage is a favorite of Ignatian spirituality, probably because of all the fruit that can be drawn from it. The first time I prayed it was during my first eight-day retreat, a while ago now. I took the passage to a small chapel with a beautiful tabernacle and a small red light glowing next to it. This was my first real encounter with the burning bush. I could feel the heat on my face and in my heart.
Ignatian retreats came and went. I realized one could be a burning bush when burning with love during an encounter with Godde, Jesus, or the Spirit. One time at the end of a weekend, I presented a reflection barefoot to a group to show that each one of them was a burning bush.
This morning, as I prayed the passage, I felt both peace and a sense of healing, as if the flames were burning the dross in my life. Not many thoughts crossed my mind. It was just soothing to stand there barefoot beholding the flames in the branches.
When time came to stop, the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus flashed through my mind. I sensed then that a heart to Heart encounter with Jesus is another burning bush experience, as well as spending time with Mary holding her child.
May your encounter with the burning bush fill you with delight and awe.
Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ, O Adonai