Today’s reflection was written by Christopher Irr, the Coordinator of Membership at the Generalate.
As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed.
I was once asked a question that heralded a poignant lesson in patience, reverence, and ordinariness: “How long did Moses have to look at the bush before he ‘got it’?” The questioner, after observing my struggle to apprehend the query’s meaning, replied, “a bush, though on fire, would take several minutes to reveal any evidence of its own combustion.” So Moses, who had seen many a fire, perhaps even several burning bushes in his day, would have had to wait and watch the bush for some time before he was able to establish that the bush was, in fact, not being consumed by the fire. Only at the moment of this particular revelation did Moses move closer (v. 3), and only then did the Lord call out (v.4). The lesson in patience seems obvious here (and though obvious, we’re rarely converted to the practice of it). As for reverence, Moses’ clumsiness in awe exposes our humanness in the Face of the Infinite (the Lord must order him to remove his sandals, as he hadn’t yet done it himself, and he turns his face away out of fear of death). So in many ways, it is only by Grace that we’re gifted with reverence, and our own desire to be reverent will always somehow fall short of the real thing. But where is our lesson in ordinariness?
In the introduction of Theme Three, ordinariness is said to be our return “to the ‘innocence’ of our essential nature; before we were horrified by our ‘nakedness.'” Isn’t this disposition of innocence perfectly embodied by Moses as he gazes in naked wonder at a burning bush; a bush that he does not yet know isn’t being consumed? Imagine Moses standing there, staring. As moderns we might have thought him an imbecile! But, if we can foster this innocent disposition, this naked wonder, this ordinariness, then perhaps, we will begin to experience our everyday reality as Moses did: “charged with the grandeur of God” (from “God’s Grandeur,” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.).
If you have the time and the resources to build a fire, take the opportunity to really see and experience the grandeur of combustion. If you don’t have a fire place or fire pit, light a candle and gaze at the flame. See if you can come to a single-minded focus. Just breath and see.
God, You are our ground and our origin. We ask that You give us the grace to accept the “givens” of our life and to face the reality of who we truly are, so that we may return with gratitude to an innocence and nakedness that allows us to see, through new eyes, the incommensurable brightness of your creation. We ask this in the name of Jesus, Your Son and our brother. Amen.