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Every day we open and close doors to our homes, our cars, places of work, institutions, family, and friends. Do we notice the variety of the doors: hinged, folding, sliding, rotating up and over, some with locks and some without? Does crossing their threshold alter our energy?

Such questions must have influenced the earliest reproductions of both the single and double doors depicted upon walls of Egyptian tombs in the Nile Valley. Here, the door symbolizes an area, closed off from the profane, similar to later ornamental doors found on mosques, monasteries, cathedrals, and temples, orienting the worshiper toward its mysteries within. Even the doors of home are sacred. The Archeological Museum in Naples displays a set of Roman folding doors from a first century AD estate in Pompeii that was ruined by Mount Vesuvius.

However, there is another door closer to home, the door to our hearts; its challenge is to become aware of it, then pause before opening it to who or whatever is attracting us. With instincts activated, discernment is critical. In the in-between space, questions surface: Are lesser motives obscuring their toxicity? Is neediness demanding to be satiated? Who will benefit? What will I learn if I act? Or give in? Perhaps “No” is the wisest response when clarity is an issue. Such practice deepens humility and opens the psyche to spiritual guidance, without which we stagnate.

Thus we thrive in our flawed humanness and bring our unique gifts to fruition among others—the purpose of our existence.

 

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It’s happening again – splotches of scarlet shrubs adding pizzazz to October’s kaleidoscope of jeweled tones slowly morphing into winter’s silence. But wait, slow down, stop and gaze into the next burning bush (Winged Euonymous or spindle tree) you pass. Note the reddish purple fruit beneath finely toothed leaves, no longer green, upon branches flaring with corky wings. After a few days, note the red mantle encircling the bush.

Such a burning bush recalls the ancient story of Moses as narrated in the Hebrew book of Exodus. It was an ordinary day when Moses set out with the sheep of his father-in law, Jethro, and headed toward the wilderness area near Mount Horeb; an ordinary day that would stun Moses to the core. In the distance, he noted a living shrub enlivened by flames. Terrified, he moved closer. From the heart of the bush resounded the words: “Moses! Moses! …  Take of your shoes. Come no nearer, for the place on which you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your father Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Moses covered his face, afraid to look at God.

More words followed from the burning bush – the revelation of God’s name empowering Moses to free the oppressed Israelites from Egypt’s Pharaoh, the strategies necessary for this daunting task. With Moses’s reluctant acceptance, the living shrub became ordinary again, but he was changed. And we know the rest of the story.

As you move into your next ordinary day, be on the lookout for a “burning bush.” It could change your life! Be not as  Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1856)  described at the end of one of her poems, “the dull-witted picking blackberries seated around a burning bush!”

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