As you schlep around in your sandals this summer, consider Moses. He was upwardly mobile in the court of the Pharaoh, when his sense of justice and the connections of his Hebrew heart were challenged. Moses came upon an Egyptian striking a Hebrew. Moses slew the Egyptian and then, realizing his deed had dire consequences, fled into the desert.
Before long, Moses found himself in another fight, this time on behalf of seven young women set upon by thugs as the women drew water from a well. In gratitude, the father of the seven gave his daughter, Zipporah, to Moses as wife.
Finally, all seemed peaceful and normal, as Moses, wearing his sturdy sandals, tended
His father-in-law’s flocks in the fields. There, Moses came upon a burning bush which was
not consumed as it burned. Vastly curious, Moses came closer. Then a voice spoke to him from
“Moses! Moses!” God called out.
“Here I am,” Moses replied.
“Take off your sandals,” God said, “for the place you are standing is holy ground.”
We – you and I- are like Moses, moved to justice, unaware that God walks with us in the flow of our lives, sometimes powerfully confronted by God’s presence, yet unaware the bush is burning with meaning for us. God says to us as God said to Moses “Take off your sandals, for the place you are standing is holy ground.”
Sandals – or shoes if you will- insulate us. They remove our feet from touching the ground. Surely, they protect our feet from cold, heat and dangerous objects – but sometimes, as in this story, they keep us separated from ground which can only be experienced as holy when our feet touches it .
Each of us is Moses. Make no mistake about it. The burning bush appears in our daily lives. Sometimes the holy ground is being in the presence of the dying or recognizing the holy in a stranger or friend. The Scriptures are Holy Ground, the Eucharistic meal is too. And more. You name the places and ways.
At other times in Scripture, we are encouraged to keep our sandals on. When the disciples were sent out for the first time to preach and teach, Jesus knew they would not be accepted everywhere. He cautioned them “If any place does not welcome you, walk away and shake the dust from your sandals.” (Mk.6.12)
What is the dust that clings to our sandals? Certain ideas about God that render God unloving, distant, uncaring? The criticisms people level against us that make us stumble? The sheer weight of the stuff we carry with us because it’s ours and we don’t know when we’ll need it again?
As summer continues, our sandals become well-worn from daily use. Look at them. Hold them in your hands. Think about where you have worn them. Have they taken you to the burning bush? Have you had to leave some mental, emotional or physical places without being welcomed? Did you try to be God’s word there? Did you shake the dust from your sandals?
Are you ready to go on?