This morning, I went out and prayed a little song looking at this extraordinary forsythia, or “burning bush”, as I thought of it. The song borrowed words from the ancient story about a bush that burned and burned but didn’t burn up. (Exodus chapter 3 in the Bible.) Once God had got Moses’ attention with this extraordinary sight, God told him to take off his shoes because, “the place on which you are standing is holy ground”. I sang those words looking at that bush. Then later the same particular reading was there in our Evening Prayer (allocated by a prayer book – 66 books in the Bible, each with many chapters and verses…what are the chances?!). Along with this beautiful quote from Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
“Earth is crammed with heaven,
and every common bush afire with God,
but only he who sees
takes off his shoes.”
I increasingly think that every place where we might stand on the earth is holy. And that all creation is crying out to us to pay attention to it, to nurture and care for it. All animals, plants, trees, skies, rivers, lakes, seas. Everything. That’s what the climate crisis has begun to make us realise, and what the corona virus pandemic may also somehow be warning us of.
The wild world is not under our control, although parts of it have been under our thoughtless dominion and monopolisation for far too long.
If you get the chance, maybe try taking off your shoes and standing on a patch of our good earth if you can access one at the moment. The place on which we are standing is holy ground.