In my blog post from 7th August, I talked about the connections I made between my “Encounter” painting and the story of Moses and the burning bush.
Further reflections led me to conclude that I would not have acted like Moses, even if I had noticed the bush. Imagine the intense heat from the fire as you step closer, the smell of the smoke and then a commanding voice telling you to take off your shoes because you are standing on holy ground!
I have a tendency to shut off when an experience gets too intense. The last thing I would have wanted at such a moment is a conversation about my life’s vocation!
Yet while we might expect a lot of drama when encountering the divine, the reality can be much more gentle and subtle, as another biblical story illustrates. It takes place in the same location, but many years after Moses’s encounter with the burning bush.
It is the story of a prophet named Elijah. For years he has been a minority voice, standing up for his God and God’s message. After a dramatic showdown with pagan prophets, Elijah has a complete breakdown to the point that he would prefer to die.
He is instructed to go to the mountain where Moses had the burning bush encounter for his own rendezvous with God. (You have got to admire Elijah’s perseverance and courage. He is feeling vulnerable and exhausted yet is still ready to meet with his creator on the creator’s terms.)
At first there is a fierce storm, an earthquake and a fire - but these phenomena do not reveal God’s presence. Elijah finally connects with the divine when he hears what is described as a still small voice, which can also be translated as a sound of silence.
I do not know about you, but if silence has a sound, I am not aware of it most days. Maybe Elijah needed to first see what he had expected before he could focus on what was. Encounters cannot be forced and may not be obvious. They happen when we are ready...
I have enjoyed the unexpected journey the "Encounter" painting has taken me on. And to think that it all started with home-brewed avocado dye (see blogpost from 31st July!).
I would love to hear your thoughts. As usual, you can comment below or send me an e-mail at Susane_Irving@outlook.com