Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Exodus 3:2-5

 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.’ 

Holy ground

Several days ago we laid Ginny to rest atop a knoll in a cemetery a couple miles south of this room. I recited lines from a poem:

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware
       (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

Ginny knew. She saw, and I loved her for it.

There was a day in October when I visited her at Tabor Hills where she was recovering and building her strength. She sat in her chair and looked out a west window on a sun-kissed day. The late afternoon sun lit a million golden leaves in the full flush of color, alive with a beauty beyond the capacity of any human artist to paint.

Seeing the light and color, she struggled for words to describe what she saw, not just out her window but in the depth of her heart, “I don’t know how to say what I feel.”

But she continued in words that revealed a mystic intuition. Hers was a heart and mind aware that her life and the life of that tree sprang from a Source more loving and beautiful than she could say. She knew both she and that tree … and all that is … are breathed into existence by a Love, a Source, a Mystery that is beautiful and bountiful and beyond her capacity to name.

She knew … the golden flush of leaves, so vibrant and alive, were singing the praise of God and inviting her to feel that same song in the depth of her heart … that she might sing along.
She knew … everything she saw out her west window was holy ground, just as surely as Moses did as he stood before his burning bush.

We talked, and I knew Ginny better that day than any other. She had a knowing heart. The eyes of her soul saw beyond the trees, the light and color. She saw beneath the surface of things and knew the One, the Loving Mystery we call God in the depth of what she saw.

As we talked, the 30 years between us melted away. Our conversation became an expression of that Beyond, that Love speaking to Ginny in the golden leaves and the depth of her soul.
We celebrated communion that day. As always, Ginny held out her hand to receive the body of Christ, telling me again that she would receive communion every day if someone would bring it to her.
Holding the bread in her hand, she knew she held the Love who spoke to her in the western trees, in her secret soul and in this body and blood of Christ. She was holding the Love that was the Source of her soul, a Love she could no more describe than we could find words that captured the golden light that held us in a holy embrace.

Ginny knew what Moses in ancient times knew as he took off his shoes. She understood what old Simeon felt the day in the temple when he held the infant Christ in his hands. She knew … she stood on holy ground. She knew she held this holiness, this Love Mystery and Blessed Source in the depth of her soul.

She knew she held the Love who had held her every day of her life … and holds her now.

And I loved her for who she is, for what she saw and for taking the chance to talk to me, fumbling for words to describe the presence of God she felt and saw with the eyes of her soul.

The best of all she is flowed from that soul—her beautiful voice, her creativity and artistic eye, her love for her family and friends.

In seeing, she shined with the light of God that spoke to her from every leaf on the golden oak that graced her window.

Now, she sees face-to-face. She stands in the presence of the Loving Mystery who spoke to her on that golden autumn day. And she has joined the song of leaves, the anthem of the saints, praising the Love who holds all of us ... now and forever.

Pr. David L. Miller