Earth is crammed with heaven,
and every common bush afire with God,
but only he who sees
takes off his shoes.
–Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Thanksgiving is a great time of year. It is fall and that alone is reason to be thankful. The sights, sounds and feel of this time of year are tremendous and serve to remind us of how very much God has created and how very beautiful that creation is. We look about us and take in the colour of this time of year and it is as if there is a renewed vibrancy to our sense of sight.
Looking at a tree yesterday with such vibrant reds and oranges in it I was reminded of these words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. “Earth is crammed with heaven and every bush afire with God.” How true indeed. About us daily is the tremendous power of God’s presence. But we often miss it. Her point is well taken that many fail to notice, “Only [she] who sees takes of [her] shoes.” This holiday that we enjoy today serves to call our attention to those things that we are grateful for. In broad terms, I suggest that it is hard for us to do that without at first acknowledging how very much God is a part of so much creating that is developing around us daily.
Can we see around us daily how God has crammed love and hope into so much? We can hardly be blamed for missing it, when we are bombarded with images of negativity and fear on a daily basis. But if we step back from that we might see something extraordinary. If we look around us and embrace the nature of God and how it is crammed into creation, our relationships, or encounters and our journeys we might actually feel compelled to take off our shoes and realize that the ground on which we stand is holy ground. We can appreciate the awesomeness of God in the beauty of a colourful tree, the babbling of a brook, the freshness of a rainfall, the warmth of the sunlight, the unbelievable blue of the sky, the power of a lightning storm, the majesty of a mountain, the wonder of the ocean, and …..(you can complete this list!) We also see that awesome nature of God when we hold a toddler and see her eyes light up when playing peek-a-boo, when we embrace a child who needs attention, when we hold a hand of a friend who is ailing, when we are offered an embrace or a gentle caress because we need attention, when we forgive a friend, or when we are forgiven, when a couple after so many years still take each other’s hand when walking in the park, when friends share pain at a time of death, when…(you can complete this list!)
What we often fail to do is remember that God is so alive in those moments and is at work in making the Kingdom real. I often remind people that if you want to know where God is most present you just need to remember the moments in your life when love was expressed. This is sometimes in the simplest of moments and sometimes it means making the choice to love even when it is difficult to do. That is the challenge really for us as a people. We need to realize how very much God is in us, in each other, and in our created order and offer love. This can be best embraced once we accept that God is love. Marcus Borg wrote;
“People who think of God as a warrior may become warriors themselves, whether in a Christian crusade, a Muslim jihad, or an apocalyptically oriented militia. People who think of God as righteous are likely to emphasize righteousness themselves, just as those who think of God as compassionate are likely to emphasize compassion. People who think God is angry at the world are likely to be angry at the world themselves.”
‘People who see God as compassionate are likely to emphasize compassion.’ It stands to reason then that is we see God as loving we will emphasize love. My prayer today is that we find the wisdom and insight to see that God is crammed into all of creation. Once we can see that, I hope we can embrace the notion that God is, above all else, LOVE. If God is LOVE than we must emphasize LOVE to each other and to all of God’s created order. We might take off our shoes and come to realize that we are standing on Holy ground.