I hate to wear shoes. One of the very first things that I do when I get home is to kick off my shoes (which are then picked up by our dog, Cooper and its then a search process to find them again). Even in the cold weather, I am apt to go barefoot, using our cat, Mickey to keep my feet warm as I sit with the legs tucked up on the couch. I would be perfectly happy if I could go without shoes most of the time.
Maybe this is why I have such an affinity for the story of Moses and the burning bush in Exodus 3. While he is tending his sheep, Moses comes upon a wondrous sight - a bush that is aflame and yet not consumed by those flames. God calls out to him from the flames, telling him to "remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5). The very place where Moses was tending sheep as he went about his regular daily routine - this ground was holy.
Think about the holiness of the earth: God gathered the dust of the earth and formed us in his image, breathing his Spirit within us, giving us life (Genesis 2:7). From the sacred ground and with God's holy breath, we are formed and made into God's beloved people.
Most of the time, we don't think much about the places that we stand. They are just where we plant our feet - be it for one step or long waits. The ground doesn't have much meaning; its just there.
Yet, stop and reflect on all those places that you find yourself in your daily life - from homes, work, school, and the like. The relationships, the tasks and the activities that we engage in as we stand and walk in these places are holy as well. The ways in which God calls us to live faithfully and fruitfully where we stand are sacred and anointed by God. God had called Moses from his sacred place of shepherding to another place where he served as God's voice that promised and delivered freedom. It is not just the one space that we stand that is holy - but all the earth is holy and provides us the means to which we can live out our callings as God's people.
Here is a poem by Macrina Wiederkehr (from Seasons of Your Heart: Prayers & Reflections) that speaks of this holy ground:
The Moses in my heart trembles
not quite willing
to accept the prophet hidden in my being
wondering how much it will cost
to allow that prophet to emerge.
O child of unnecessary shoes
cast them off
and stand in readiness
on this holy ground.
For the Egypt in people's lives
demands that you see the burning bushes
all around you
away from the comfort
of well-protected feet.
The ground you stand on is holy.
Take off your shoes!
The ground of your being is holy.
Take off your shoes!
Awaken your sleeping prophet
Believe in your Moses