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Every Common Bush Afire...

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, "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 and pluck blackberries."  With the summer beginning to give way to fall, I have been looking for those common bushes aflame with God.  I found the one in this picture barely fifteen feet from the curb on a busy stretch of Yonge Street just north of the church, but I didn't see anyone slow down to admire its beauty let alone take off their shoes.  

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I'm no better. When I lifted my head from the fiery bush I saw an image I had earlier been alerted to - what appeared to be flames hanging from the Kay Gardner Beltline Bridge just another hundred yards up the street. So I ventured up after passing the bush.  The flames are ribbons that look tired enough to have been there all summer.  I don't know who put them up, but each one represents an aboriginal woman who has been murdered or gone missing in this land.  And each ribbon had a name, photo and story attached, though few of those remain.  

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The stories are so dark it is hard to think of it as holy ground, but it struck me as powerfully as the burning bush down the street.  I sensed God is calling us as he once called Moses through the burning bush.   It is time for liberation and justice.  It is time for love and grace.  Each of these women is precious to God and though the names and faces fade from our sight, they are held dear in the palm of God's hand and God will keep the fire burning until each one is home.  It truly is holy ground up there on the bridge, so be ready to put away your blackberries and take off your shoes.  

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Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes

Peter Holmes, BA, MDiv, DMin is the Minister of the Congregation at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church

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