“The earth is crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God. But only he who sees takes off his shoes. The rest sit around and pluck raspberries.” -Elizabeth Barret Browning
When we were children my sister and I would play “house” in our dingy garage attic. It was a small, rustic spot, lit by a dim, bare bulb, sporting a splinter-inducing wood floor and cobwebs between the beams above. It was cold in the winter and hot in the summer, but to us, it was a magical place. We played for hours allowing our imaginations to explore dreams of future babies and homes and all manner of exciting and mundane adventures.
It was a “common bush afire with God”. We chose to see magic in the attic.
Jared and I had been married a short time when we decided to rent an old house in downtown Fresno. It was run down and quirky and our friends and family cautioned about the safety of the neighborhood, but to us it was a castle! I remember feeling especially free and boundless one night as we stretched our ‘we-do-life-together-this-way-wings’, not knowing each common choice set a precedent for the future. We drove to Blockbuster and rented the next DVD episodes of Alias, got take-out Thai food, dragged our mattress into the living room, and lit a fire in the fireplace.
That evening was “Earth crammed with heaven”. We chose to see magic in that funky little evening in that funky little house.
I heard a talk recently about how the star system nearest us, Alpha Centauri, is 4.367 light-years away = roughly 26 trillion miles. As far as we know, between us and our nearest neighbor there’s a whole lot of NOTHINGNESS. Somethingness only makes up 0.0000000000000000000042% of space, give or take, and that somethingness includes all of the stars and planets in all of the universe. Of all those stars and planets, the Earth is the only one we know supports any form of life. (Though, I’m pretty sure we’re not the only ones out here. ;))
Sleep, commissioned painting based on Eric Whitacre’s beautifully eerie song, Sleep (listen here)
Earth supports life and we humans are just a smidge of the diverse plethora forms of that life. (This, my very unscientific analysis of our earthly situation.)
My point? We are somethings in a universe full of nothingness. These earthly lives that seem so common, so pedestrian, are actually CRAZY AMAZING happenings. We somethings are a miraculous novelty.
“See and take off your shoes.” Choose to see the magic in it all.
The world right now is in flux. We’re walking through “a time that history will remember with sadness, fear, and anger,” the NY Times wrote the other day. We are experiencing things we could never have imagined would happen in our lifetimes.
While we mourn with those who mourn, march toward continued justice, healing, and reform, and navigate the wild waters of political unrest, let’s choose to do so from an awareness of the miracle, the magic, that is our very breath and consciousness.
Let’s choose to see the common goodness and beauty around us every day, “bushes afire with God”. Let’s choose to see God in our brothers and sisters, “take off our shoes”, and bow down to serve.
Let’s be aware that The Great Creator is as close as our very breath, so we can confidently choose to sit in tension and make Peace.
Each of us is part of the minuscule percentage of somethingness in this vast universe and we are all miracles. Let’s not be caught “plucking raspberries”.
Grace, peace, and wholeness,