Sacred Spaces of Creation – by Colin McDaniel, Senior Warden

Sometimes I find myself looking for a burning bush. It would be convenient if God’s calls were that clear in my life—His own ringtone, so to speak. I might be more apt to pay attention. Of course, the act of looking for burning bushes reveals that I prefer He provide a sign when I am ready.

And forests are one of those places I look for burning bushes. Which is ironic, because if I were to spot flaming flora I should call the park ranger, not my spiritual director. Nonetheless, in sacred spaces of creation I turn to observing and listening, hopeful for a voice or a song that resonates with my creation and imparts something of the mystery of being.

So it was on a camping trip this summer while hiking a path through an old- growth forest that I met a pair of enormous trees: a gigantic cedar and a towering Doug- las fir, standing guard before a knoll of dark, buzzing shadows beneath tightly clumped scrubs and soft, fallen trunks. Awed by the majesty of these titanic sentinels, I stopped to lay my hands upon each tree and listen for its song. I just heard tree. I don’t know what I was expecting. They were impressive, that much was sure, and I felt small next to them. After considering what stories they could tell, if they could speak to me, I went on.

The trail beyond made for arduous hiking. I scrambled over rotten tree trunks cov- ered with thick moss, sprouting huckleberry bushes and young saplings. Spider webs capturing struggling prey were carefully parted so that I could pass. Rustling bunches of salal betrayed the hectic scurrying of some unseen animal beneath. Everywhere around me, the individual participants in the cycle of creation were in the immediate processes of dying, springing, striving, and consuming.

So as I hiked over this hill I noticed the interdependence of everything. I noticed how each being relied upon someone else. One thing was dependent upon another; life was springing from that which had died and rising from that which had fallen. I came to the end of my journey in the forest, and I realized that I was listening for an individual song—a burning bush—when the song was not for one ancient tree, nor for a single per- son. That is not to say that the individual is insignificant, for each individual renews what dies and sustains what follows, but the whole forest sings with the song of creation. Together it is a song, and that song is not for an individual, but to the glory of the Crea- tor.

I think our culture prompts us to look for burning bushes to tell us what individual merit or purpose we have in God’s design. We watch eclipses and climb mountain peaks looking upward and outward for divine broadcasts. What we may fail to recognize is the divine that emanates from us as a worship community. Though I do not find burning bushes when I seek them, I am confident that I and every member of our church are sig- nificant in God’s plan. Like the old-growth forest, St. Andrew’s is fully alive with the building, renewing, and sharing of a religious life that celebrates the glory of God.