We have been blessed in the Highlands with some wonderful weather this week and it has been a great pleasure to exercise in such lovely conditions. It also has given me time to take some photos whilst walking and to try and capture some of the beauty that we are surrounded with. This week it has been the Whins that have caught my attention. Whins, as I now know, is the Scottish name for the gorse bushes that are prolific across the Highlands. Their blooms are at their best at this time of year and they light up the landscape with their bright yellow colour.
Looking at the sea of sunshine that met me as I walked up on the hills I was reminded of Moses and the burning bush. You will remember that Moses was out looking after the sheep when he saw a bush that appeared to be on fire yet was not burning up. Moses says, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight….”
It is when he turns aside that he then hears God calling to him. God warns him to take his shoes off as the ground he is standing on is holy ground. It is then that God commissions Moses to go and lead his people out of slavery in Egypt.
It is a wonderful encounter that leads to a dramatic Exodus and freedom for the Israelites. It changes Moses’ life for ever as he, albeit somewhat reluctantly, take up the role of leader that God calls him to. It is indeed a holy moment, but it begins with such a simple thing…turning aside to look.
To really look at something or someone requires focus, patience and above all a willingness to give our time and heart fully to someone or something outside of ourselves. These are skills that we can so easily lose, especially in our world where digital machines tick away the minutes of our lives. Our attention is too quickly diverted by the constant barrage of information, the incoming email, post, or twitter feed. When we are constantly distracted then we miss out so much, our lack of awareness impoverishes us, those around us and the wider world. To turn aside, to truly give our undivided attention and heart is to discover the sacred in the mundane, the beyond in the present and the holy, yes, the holy, in a gorse bush! Like the poet, we may come to realise that we are in fact surrounded with signs of Gods presence everywhere and held in his loving, undivided gaze eternally.
Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God: But only he who sees, takes off his shoes; The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries... Elizabeth Barrett Browning Aurora Leigh: