"Every Common Bush Alive with God"
- along a wilderness trail -
On this weekend before the season of Lent begins, many Christian churches will tell the well-known story of the “Transfiguration.” According to this narrative, before going to Jerusalem to face his ultimate betrayal and death on a cross, Jesus takes some of his disciples up to a high mountain peak where they see him “glowing” with the brilliant light of divine energy.
Nowadays non-believers scoff at the story as being little more than a magical fairy tale told to children; and, even for believers, if you take the story too literally it’s kind of hard to believe it actually happened - after all none of us has ever seen someone glow. Or have we?
In some sense everyone has a “spark of God” aglow in them and everything that "is" radiates a divine energy but most of the time we don’t recognize it – our hearts are too hard, our minds to clouded and distracted. In a very real sense, the story of the Transfiguration is also a story about those disciples who accompanied Jesus up the mountain who woke up from their spiritual sleep and became alert and awake enough to see the light of “God” shining in the face of Jesus. The story of the Transfiguration invites any one of us an any type of spiritual path to wake up to the the radiant energy of “God” glowing everywhere in our midst.
Most every day I find myself hiking out into the wilderness area around our house. On my walk yesterday I was struck with the awareness that the dry, desert soil and the rock-covered mountains had almost overnight burst into a bright array of excruciatingly beautiful spring wildflowers, bright yellow blossoms on the desert trees and bushes, exotic flowers pushing their way through the tough skin of thorny cacti. All throughout the winter months I walked along those trails and everything appeared to be so dead and so dry but everything was actually very much alive – I just failed to see it.
This springtime (and in this upcoming Lenten season) I am reminded that the radiant energy of “God” glows beneath the surface of everyone and everything, all the time. So this is a season for spiritually waking up to it all.
The whole experience reminded me of a verse of one of my very favorite poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
Earth’s crammed with heaven
And every common bush alive with God
But only he who sees takes off his shoes
The rest sit around and pluck blackberries
As I see it, all of us are always walking along life-paths that are vibrantly "alive with God.” At work, at school, in the supermarket, in our kitchen cooking dinner, sitting in the local Starbucks, walking on on a city street, on a trail in a desert wilderness on a glorious spring day - every place we ever stand is “a Transfiguration” mountaintop where the glory/energy of “God” is always radiantly glowing if we are willing to pay attention. I also wonder if some people are unaware that every place we stand is a holy place glowing with divinity because we only expect a church, a temple of a mosque to be sacred ground.
I am reminded of one of my favorite pieces of wisdom I once came across in one of my Buddhist magazines:
Whatever we are looking for is already right here,
the problem is that we are usually elsewhere.
When we pay attention to our everyday life
we always discover something truly wonderful.
For me, this story of the Transfiguration is told each year as the season of Lent begins as a reminder to exercise the muscles of my spiritual awareness and look for “God” aglow in every step I take. During the upcoming Lenten season I want to more intentionally “take off my shoes” wherever I may go because I am always standing on Holy Ground.