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It’s happening again—splotches of scarlet shrubs adding zest to November’s lethargy, slowly morphing into winter’s stillness. But do stop at the next burning bush or spindle tree that you pass. Note the reddest 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 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, and 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 the British Pre-Raphaelite Christina Rossetti described at the end of one of her poems, “the dull-witted eating blackberries seated around a burning bush.

At 3:30 A.M., three glimpses into my psyche woke me: Christmas, Jane Schaberg, and ghettos. I had no recall of the dream story associated with these images, but chose to work with them.

Christmas, not in the sense of holidays with parties, gifts, and family gatherings, has always evoked rich associations with the Sacred, recognized and revered as a child. The Son-of-God-made-Man has companioned my efforts to incarnate in this existence, given my reluctance, from the womb, to do so. Gospel teachings, hidden within Twelve Step living, have opened me further to my humanness and still contributes to “the joy of living,” the result of practicing Step Twelve. When my end time comes, I will have substantive gifts to surrender to the Sacred. Today’s Christmas heartens me deeply.

My surprise in seeing Jane Schaberg (1938 – 2012) in my psyche also stirred me. I still remember her astounding insight of loving God with her whole mind, a passion that led her to advanced theological studies and worldwide attention for her biblical articles and books, all the while teaching at Detroit-Mercy University. I still hear the roar of her laughter as I write these lines. Another companion to help me along …

And ghettos, the third image that visited me in my dream—For decades, my work with home care elderly patients exposed me with ghetto living in New Orleans, Houston, and St. Louis where I had lived. From these spirits seasoned by poverty, poor health, backbreaking work, and other hardships, I leaned about acceptance, humility, and faith in God. Yet, my learning is far from finished as my impoverishment still rankles. This is working out …

It feels like the ragged edges of January’s grief, disjointed, bent: like spent grains blooming florals at the bottom of a china tea cup. Yet, look again. See what’s there.

Rawness clings to soggy branches sweeping the barren meadow with spectral fingers. Mist dulls perspective, blanches color, and clouds skylines—There seems no wholeness. Yet, something keeps the components together. Bereft of apparent life, it speaks to the listening heart, floods the eye with satisfying dissonance.

A strange fare is afoot inviting our imaginations to feast upon what many call, the unsavory, but it is anything but that.

Do look again … Beauty has many flavors …

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