Earlier this month (December 2-4), I posted a series of three blogs – musing about mystery in Advent…continued…concluded. I find myself fixated on (or, being fond of alliteration, mired in) mystery. Again, as I define it: Not a riddle I can resolve by reason, nevertheless a reality that I can encounter, experience, therefore know.
One of my favorite biblical stories (because it’s all about mystery and liberation, and perhaps, too, because I may be a closeted pyromaniac!) is Moses and the encounter with God in the burning bush.
Moses beholds a bush that is aflame, but not burned. God calls, “Moses, Moses”, proclaims the moment holy (that is, an experience of “otherness”, something wholly apart from the natural realm or earthly norm), then as mystery with a recognizable identity, declares, “I am the God of your ancestors.” God continues: “I see…hear…know my people’s sufferings.” God, though holy mystery, is compassionate; not indifferent to the human condition, harkening to the cry of human travail and speaking a word of hope: “I have come to deliver my people.” What is God’s instrumentality? God’s delivery system of choice? Cosmic portents? Cataclysmic earthly upheaval? An army, mighty in number and power? No. God tells Moses, “I send you.” Moses, mindful of his insufficiency, cries out, “Who am I that I should go?” God, again in compassion, utters a comforting word of unwavering intention, “I will…”, and enduring union, “…be with you.”
Compassion. The shared experience of suffering. An essential element of encounter, whether divine or human, with mystery. An encounter in which one beholds a true, trustworthy reflection. An encounter through which one finds kinship of true affection. An encounter by which one discovers afresh communion and thus knows that one is not, is never alone.
This morning, as a companion to this story of Moses’ encounter, union with divine mystery, I reflected on the poem, The Tuft of Flowers, in which Robert Frost speaks of the human bond. In the experience of a common task – mowing grass and scattering it to dry – one discovers a profound kinship with another. The grass has been cut, but the mower, long gone, has left a tuft of flowers, the gift of a patch of beauty, through which the poet discerns anew that no one is ever alone.
I believe, mysteriously, for this knowledge is beyond my reason’s reach, that I am bound to all others. We are bound together whene’er we, in a spirit of compassion, share the experience of life’s labor; whether wrestling nakedly, painfully exposed, with difficulties (where largely, these days, I find myself), appreciating with passionate embrace life’s beauty, or even amidst struggle humbly savoring the wonder of being alive.