We all know the story of Moses and the burning bush, right? But I hadn't really thought about it until this morning, reading about it in Barbara Brown Taylor's Altar in the World.
I mean, yes, it's cool that God spoke to Moses. But "the bush was not right in front of Moses. It must have been over to the side somewhere, because when Moses saw it, he said, 'I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.'
... What made him Moses was his willingness to turn aside. Wherever else he was supposed to be going and whatever else he was supposed to be doing, he decided it could wait a minute. He parked the sheep he was tending for his father-in-law and left the narrow path in order to take a closer look at a marvelous sight."
When Moses made that choice, to stop and investigate, God dismissed the angel and took over the bush. It's a wonderful example of what can happen when we take the time to notice.
But most of us are crusaders, always on a path to something important, always busy with a job to do; many of us are even doing what society has told us is the Work Of The Lord. And when we're on a roll, the things that get in the way -- the child saying "Mommy, Mommy, look at this!" or the slow elderly driver on the road in front of us, or the cat who gets underfoot at dinnertime or the homeless person blocking the doorway of the building we're trying to enter -- are simply obstacles to the crusade; irritations. We fail to see them as opportunities for Grace. Our eyes are on the prize, the Lord, the job ahead, and we never stop to appreciate the wonder right here at our feet.
As someone who is especially prone to this kind of preoccupation, I am grateful photography has captured my interest. Because, whatever I'm doing, some part of me is often alert for the burning bushes of the world. After all, if we don't even register them, we're not going to stop and investigate. But I have years of history of not stopping, lots of "the one that got away" stories.
Photography has taught me the fleeting nature of that golden light that can illuminate the bushes along the path. If I am not willing to drop what I'm doing and explore, but choose instead to finish whatever task is so important to me now and come back later, then in all probability whatever light infused the subject with grace has left the scene.
So it's not enough to be aware, although that's a start. We have to be willing to stop what we're doing; to drop the crusade and leave the path, "to turn aside and look at this great sight."