Thursday, February 5, 2009


“And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire but of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will turn aside now, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, here am I.” Exodus 3: 2-4

A certain young man went to a bookshop and was browsing through the shelves of the shop to purchase a book of his interest. To his surprise and added to his interest he found a book titled “How to Hug”. The young man was enthralled by the title of the book and with no second thoughts went straight to the shopkeeper and asked him to bill the book and wrapped it and took it to him home. He could not withstand his curiosity to read the book he bought and in the evening creating a romantic mood for himself he started to open the cover to flip through the pages of that book he purchased. As he was flipping through the pages of the book and tried to read through the content of it, his face turned out red and his enthusiasm was taken over by utter disappointment. To his surprise the book that he thought was a romantic one did not have anything of such character and the young man started cursing himself for being cheated by the title of the book. The book was an encyclopaedia containing the meanings of the words between “HOW to HUG”. How often we are dominated in our life by our only perception we have in looking at things. There is no space for other perceptions and other side of it to look into the matters of life. Most of us have become adamant, by not letting any space to newer, creative and other perspectives in our outlook on life and life related issues. Like the young man in this story we are conditioned by our limited perceptions and all we think is only ‘how to hug’ with out any second thoughts to it. Life has to be looked and operated in varied and pluri-perceptions and only then, one can see the spectrum or rainbows in ones life.

The text that has been chosen from Exodus 3:1-6 happens to be the call of Moses by God, after he fled away from the land of pharaoh by killing a man. When Moses as a shepherds man went up to the Mount Horeb, had this calling of God through the burning bush incident, where he had the theophanic experience. Paulo Coelho in his famous “Alchemist” described that being a shepherd, the young boy could explore the riches of the land as he takes the sheep to different places and landscapes and at the end reaches his destiny in life. Similarly the hero of the Exodus episode in the Bible, Moses began his life as a Shepherd and tried to explore the riches of God’s creation and as he started exploring, on his way found the calling of God to lead God’s people out of the bondage.

The burning bush incident would not have made any impact on the life of Moses but for his listening to his own conscience of turning aside to view the great sight of burning bush. Moses recognised the language of the world, the inner burning of his heart and therefore turned aside in looking at the bush that was not burning for the second time.

1.Moses recognises only the flame of fire: When the angle of the Lord appeared in the flame of fire amidst the bush, Moses could only see the bush being burnt and saw that it was not consumed of fire. Moses could only see the flame of fire and not the presence of the Lord in it, on his first glance. For Moses as a shepherd, the flame of fire incident in the bush would have been yet another sight of new explorations in his onward journeys along with his sheep. Like his sheep on that Mount Horeb, Moses also could see the physical sight of the burning bush, where it was not consumed. For the sheep, as Paulo Coelho writes, it is only food and water that matters and therefore this incident of burning bush, whether it was burnt or not burnt would not have had any impact on it. But for Moses, he could only recognise that there was a flame of fire in the bush and the bush was not burnt, and did not get any clue of the presence of God in that flame of fire, for he was not able to discern either the language of the world nor the language of God which ultimately resonated the same substance and essence. Therefore on a first go, Moses failed to read the presence of God in that burning bush incident, and could merely see that the bush was not consumed even though there was a fire in it, and exactly saw what his flock of sheep saw on that day, at that first instance.

2.Moses discerns the flame of his heart: As Moses has seen the flame of fire; he immediately felt the flame in his heart, where his conscience spoke to him to discern the language of the world in that incident of burning bush. Therefore he said unto himself in verse three that he will turn aside to look into that burning bush, and tried to enquire why it was not being burnt. The flame of his heart or the inner voice of his conscience would have spoken to him clearly to discern the deeper meaning in that incident which he came across on that mountaintop along with his flock of sheep. In no time, Moses took a second chance, gave space to a second thought, a second perception, a second way of looking at things, and heard the second and deeper voice that is within him and immediately said that he will turn aside to see the same incident again. The burning of his heart, the flames in his heart, his deep conscience has led him to turn aside in looking at the burning bush and that led to question why the bush has not been burnt, despite the flame into it. As the Shepherds normally do, probably Moses as he listened to his heart to turn aside and see, immediately he would have spoken to his sheep and would have explained how deeply he was moved in discerning the language of the world and how he could enquire and how he could read and feel the presence of God. Like always, the sheep only wanted food and water, and therefore would have pretended to listen to what Moses was telling them and when no sheep gave heed to his feeling of inner voice, he had to speak to himself that he need to turn aside to see the same incident with new heart, new mind, new eyes and new ears. Therefore Moses ultimately could find out the presence of God in that same incident, which he has seen a minute ago.

3.God was impressed with the flaming of his heart: As Moses’ heart was flamed and as he turned another side to view the burning bush incident, his enquiring spirit earned him to feel the presence of God in it. Probably, Moses once again would have narrated his experience of feeling the presence of God to his flock of sheep, and therefore the narrator of Exodus story like Moses’s sheep also did not give importance to such explanation of Moses to his sheep, and therefore could not record it. However, when God saw that Moses was feeling the presence of God in that burning bush, God immediately was impressed by Moses’ listening to his heart of turning aside to look at the bush that was not being burnt. In fourth verse we read that when the Lord saw that Moses turned aside to see, God called Moses by name. I think among all the characters Moses had in his CV, God was impressed by Moses’ turning aside quality. Moses’ turning aside quality has so impressed God that eventually when Moses raises several complaints of his inability to lead the people of Israel, God did not give heed to all his short comings and pressed hard that Moses should lead the people of Israel out of the bondage. The quality and character of turning to another side, taking a second chance, giving a deeper thought, being open to other perceptions, listening to the inner voice and giving space to new outlooks of Moses that day has won the heart of God. God also by any chance did not want to lose such a man who had a willing heart to discern the inner voice in recognising the presence of God, and therefore did not give it up in persuading Moses to lead the people living in bondage to liberation.

The contexts today have been dominated by the exclusivistic ideologies and fundamentalistic attitudes. Frictions among people and religions are counted high because of not being open to learn in their journeys. Therefore, dear friends the calling to all of us is to listen to the voice of our conscience like the Alchemist to discern the language of the world and thereby act to feel the presence of God. Moses depicted such qualities of an Alchemist and could lead the people out of bondage in all courage and boldness. Let us also try to turn aside to other perceptions in looking at and perceiving life in a better and healthy manner. May we turn aside from our own exclusivistic perceptions, from our own rigid perceptions and from our narrow domestic walls. Let us be open to turn aside from our own standings and stand points and let us try to decipher the presence of God, which appears in ordinary things like that of the common bush for a shepherd. Turning aside to other stand points and perceptions has won the heart of God, and I feel such a quality is so divinely blended into every human being equally with the rider that we need to listen to the language of the world and try to be open to new learning and new opportunities. May God grant us all that courage to be open to new perceptions and new imaginations so that all of us can lead journey in the pilgrimage of faith in partnership and friendship.

No comments: