Last Saturday marked the end of a very long two-week period during which I had not been able to stay at my house for various reasons (Connecticut’s epic week-long power outage followed by a week-long trip). To say that I felt unsettled was a major understatement. I hadn’t realized just how much I needed my home; not only did it provide me with peace and tranquility, it was also my sanctuary in an otherwise hectic life.
When I pulled into my driveway around 11 p.m. that Saturday, excited to finally unpack and settle in, I could not believe my eyes. The large four-foot wide bush in my neighbor’s yard was on fire. When I later tried to describe it to other people -including the volunteer firefighter who showed up a few minutes after I called 911- they had a hard time believing that I had seen three-foot flames coming out of this bush.
Despite having been raised as a Catholic, I had no recollection that a burning bush had any religious symbolism whatsoever. (I had decided to chalk it up to someone flicking a cigarette out a car window as they drove by.) It wasn’t until I mentioned the story to my brother that I learned the burning bush had a much deeper meaning. My brother explained that Moses had seen God in a burning bush and even though it burned, the bush somehow remains undamaged: “Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up” (Exodus 3:2). According to the Bible, God shows his grace to Moses in order to transform him.
The next day, as I walked past the bush in my neighbor’s yard, I realized that it also showed no signs of having been on fire; in fact, it looked almost exactly the way it had before. When I talked to my neighbor about it, he said he hadn’t seen the fire…nor had anyone else he’d spoken to. The only evidence I had to confirm that what I had seen was, in fact, real was the fire fighter’s assertion that the bush had been smoldering when he arrived.
I wondered about the connection between the burning bush and my feeling extremely unsettled and disconnected from my Self after having spent two weeks away from home. Was it just a random coincidence or was it, once again, evidence of something much greater?