Apparently God used to talk to Moses in the mountains. In fact God seemed to talk quite a lot back then, often to the Israelites who he rebuked for fooling around with other gods in sacred groves. Moses must have been up the mountain some considerable time, months I am surmising because while he was away, the Israelites made a golden calf and began to worship it. I have never made one myself but it I imagine it would take some skill and some organisation, to say nothing of all the gold you would need.
When Moses finally came down from mountain, he was glowing. The Israelites clearly found this somewhat upsetting because not only did they ask him to cover his face but they also decided that they did not want to go anywhere near God themselves. You speak to him they said, we don’t want to. We never do, which is why we hate silence and why we run from bed time to bed time. We are running from God and if we did speak to him we would die. Which is in fact the point. Dying, letting go, giving in, being born again, are all poor indicators of coming face to face with God, or god or whatever divine thing you acknowledge.
Most of us are running too from what we have become. We have mined, chopped, excavated and built over all the sacred spaces until we are very hard pressed to find one. We have drained and poisoned sacred rivers and flung so much rubbish out to sea that the beautiful albatrosses are being found dead with their bellies full of plastic. It’s not so much that there are no sacred places, it’s just that there are ever more desecrated ones, both in the land and in ourselves. It is very hard to desecrate a place and then have a change of heart. For those who are changing their heart, it’s like carrying a tealight on a windy night in the hope of illuminating the darkness of a city. But if a tea light is all you have then it must be lit and carried; my burden is light.
The holy bushes are still burning, but now they are consumed by a generation of consumers. The holy mountains speak but you have to be there on your own for many hours, and you have to forget all you think you know about speech. The voice you are waiting for is very still and very small and we usually miss it because we prefer the drama of an earthquake or a mighty wind, or a raging fire. When have we ever heard the BBC report a still small voice? And in other news….there was a small voice crying in the City today but no one heard it because they were too busy recording their emptiness.