19th October 2020

Some years ago, my wife and I were on a pilgrimage to St. Catherine’s monastery in the Sinai Desert. There is a chapel there that commemorates Moses’ encounter with God in the Burning Bush. As we entered through the small door the monk asked us to remove our shoes. Yes, this was holy ground.

And furthermore the atmosphere was electric. It felt holy. There was a sense of beauty and peace and mystery. Was it the association with the burning bush? Or was it the feeling that countless pilgrims had come this way with love and devotion, to offer their worship and praise?

That’s all very well, but we can’t borrow somebody else’s pilgrimage, we have to make our own. We can’t borrow somebody else’s sense of awe. We must find what is appropriate for us. So often we look for a special place or a special service where we can come face to face with God. Yet the times when we become aware of his presence may not be in thrilling places or exciting meetings but rather in circumstances when we turn our lives humbly to him and seek his direction. It is the birth of a deeper transforming faith that fills the decision, the deed and the place with the holiness of God. And this can be in the most unexpected circumstances – loneliness, frustration, fear, anxiety or broken relationship, when we run out of our own strength and turn our lives to God, where we find ourselves and commit our selves to him. Any of the simple places where faith comes alive may one day become for us holy – a familiar wood, a kitchen sink, a factory floor, an office chair, a hospital ward, the sky at night. We’re letting the bush burn again.

Peter Webb