September 10, 2017

Finding Holy Ground: Seeing

Today we start a new series about “Finding Holy Ground”. I recently re-read the Barbara Brown Taylor book An Altar in the World. It was a good reminder that God is found in all things and places. I’ll be referring to her and to others in this series that will take us to Advent. Our journey to finding Holy Ground starts with reflecting on how God is found very close to us-in our senses. I invite you to come along and take time to find Holy Ground.

In the September 4 d365.com meditation, Ben Brown noted, “Moses had packed a bag for watching his father-in-law’s flock, but he was unprepared to encounter God through a burning bush. Life is dynamic, and sometimes we’ll encounter God in surprising places” He asks, “will we recognize the holy ground and take off our sandals?” As Taylor notes, when we become aware of all the Holy Ground, we have to be prepared to be surprised.

I invite you to encounter the Holy Ground through our senses. Today we start with sight, which many of us take for granted. Even if, like me, you wear glasses, you probably can see if you are reading this blog. Admittedly I wouldn’t be able to read it without my glasses, but thanks to modern medicine, the blurriness of astigmatism is correctable so that I can indeed see to read.

In the Gospels, Jesus heals more than one person of blindness. One instance is found in Mark 8:23-25. We hear, “So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then He spit on the man’s eyes and placed His hands on him. “Can you see anything?” He asked. The man looked up and said, “I can see the people, but they look like trees walking around.” Once again Jesus placed His hands on the man’s eyes, and when he opened them his sight was restored, and he could see everything clearly

Unlike many healings, this time the healing seems to be only partial at first. The man says, “I see the people, but they look like trees”. Certainly, that’s rather what happens to me when I’m not wearing my glasses. I can see shapes, but they are pretty indistinct.

I think that happens more often than we realize, because we don’t pay attention to what we are seeing. We are only seeing shapes not the reality of the people and things around us. We are not seeing God, and Holy Ground, in what we are looking at.

A few months ago, I came across an exercise for seeing more clearly. The author suggested taking a leaf or something else and really studying it for several minutes. Look at the veins and cells of the leaf, marvel at the delicacy of the feather, contemplate the tree branch until you are amazed at the complexity of the parts. Barbara Brown Taylor suggests doing something similar with your own hand. Study your veins, look at the lines or spots or scars. Think about all the places that hand has been and all it has done in your life.

I would encourage you to take time, as much as you need, but more than just a couple of minutes, to do one of these things. Find something in nature, or your own hand, and let yourself look deeply into it. Let God show you the Holy Ground in the object.

Then, take it a step further, the next time you are driving or walking or scanning through Facebook, take time to really see what is going on. Look at the faces you pass or the ones on the posts. Are they stressed, or happy, or afraid? See with the eyes of your heart and try to get past the odd, blurry ‘tree’ shapes that are safe, but which don’t tell us much. Look into the heart and really see the Holy Ground there.

The same September 4 d365.com post had this prayer to help us focus, “God of surprises, help me to notice you in the midst of my mundane activities. Prepare me for the holy ground I’ll encounter today. Amen”

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