On a snowy Monday at 4:32AM, a burning bush appeared in my front yard. I’m certain of the time. I had just looked at my watch, trying to decide if I should stay up and worry about unpaid bills, or go to bed and worry about unpaid bills.
Neither the bush nor the flames moved in concert with the January wind that lashed other trees and bushes in the yard. Wind-driven snowflakes passed through without melting. The snow under the bush was not melting either.
I was not afraid, for whatever reason, simply astonished. I stomped into my boots, shrugged into my parka, and marched outside to investigate.
About five feet from the burning bush, I bumped against some invisible something or other that would not let me get any closer, never mind that snowflakes blew right through.
“I suppose you have some reason for being here,” I said, “but if you’re looking for Moses you have the wrong address.”
I felt dumb talking to this thing, but I had never given thought to how I might communicate with a burning bush should the occasion arise. The bush failed to respond.
I heard sirens in the distance.
This is a quiet neighborhood in a small town; nothing much ever happens and everybody knows everybody else’s business. I saw Burt Peterson standing by their front window across the street. Maybe he had called 911 about the fire.
The first fire truck arrived. The driver leaped from the truck and bounded across the sidewalk. He stopped in confusion, then dropped to his knees and crossed himself. The other fireman, apparently a more rational type, jerked a fire extinguisher out of a cabinet, ran toward the bush, hit the invisible whatever it was, and bounced back ass over teakettle.
I picked up the fire extinguisher, directed the nozzle toward the bush, and let fly. It blew right through with no effect.
The rest of the night was hectic. More cops, more neighbors, lots of strangers, a TV station remote truck with all kinds of lights and some gal trying to talk into a microphone over the howling wind.
The third time some reporter rang the doorbell I went out and asked one of the cops to keep them off my property. Nobody else rang the doorbell and I unplugged the phone.
I sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee and thinking until well after sunrise, occasionally going to the front of the house to observe the chaos. I showered and shaved and waited some more. Shortly after eight, I made a couple of phone calls, and then waited at the window watching the turmoil.
The six rent-a-cops I hired on the phone showed up about an hour later, escorting a flatbed truck with the material I had ordered, all of it charged to the only credit card not maxed out.
I slipped on my parka and boots and went outside.
At the edge of my driveway I stood calmly until I was certain I had been noticed, then walked slowly toward the burning bush. Ten feet from the bush I dropped to my knees, bowed my head, and clasped my hands in front of me. I even managed to keep a straight face. I waited until my knees started to get cold, then stood up and backed slowly away. I turned to face the crowd.
All of them, even the cops and reporters, were on their knees.
I walked to them, motioning them to stand. When I stepped into the crowd they parted without speaking; not even one reporter asked a question, in itself a major miracle.
I climbed on the truck bed and surveyed my audience.
“You have been given dispensation,” I said, “to build a tabernacle. The tent and other materials are here on this truck.”
I selected a rent-a-cop at random, put him in charge, and went back inside to get warm. In less than an hour, the tent was up and covering the bush and the rent-a-cops were collecting donations at the entrance, solving my money problems.
Scientists are having a wonderful time explaining this phenomenon their instruments cannot detect. Preachers are having an even better time with pulpit-pounding ‘I told you so’ sermons. I’m having a pretty good time, too.
If that thing burns for another year, I’ll own half the county.