Removing the Blinders

_DSC5760A few days ago I came across this story in Joan Chittister’s book, The Breath of the Soul.  Once upon a time a Sufi made the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. It was a long walk for him and the sun was high.  He had come miles without stopping.  Finally, in the sight of the mosque at Mecca, sure of the goal now, the old man lay down in the road to rest.  Suddenly, one of the other pilgrims shook him awake, rough and harsh in the doing of it.  “Wake up,” he commanded.  “You blaspheme.  You lie in such a way that your feet are pointed toward God in the holy mosque!  What kind of Sufi are you?!”  The old Sufi opened one eye, smiled a bit, and said, “I thank you, holy sir.  Now if you would be kind enough to turn my feet in some direction where they are not pointed toward God.”

_DSC8304It would seem to me that it was the second man, not the first, who was guilty of  blasphemy.  He was the one who failed to recognize that God cannot be contained in a building.  As the Maker of heaven and earth God’s presence can be found everywhere and that makes all of the world sacred.  There is something wrong with any theology that limits God’s presence to a church, synagogue or mosque.  Unfortunately, there have been many over the years who have made that mistake.  They have sought to limit the God who cannot be limited.

_DSC8035For years I have been quoting this passage from Elizabeth Barrett Browning—“Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God; but only he who sees, takes off his shoes, the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.”  Each of us would be wise to remove the blinders that keep us from seeing heaven (or God) on earth.  So many factors have helped to place and keep these blinders on our eyes but they do not have to be worn.  Ask God to give you fresh eyes to see in “every common bush,” every tree or stream, every bird and flower the glory of His presence.  This will no doubt help lead you to worship God more often and with greater joy.  Whether you keep your shoes on is up to you…


(The pictures used here are some I’ve taken in recent days near my home in Henderson, KY.)