Up and Down the Mountain
One of the things that has become increasingly important to me during this pandemic is the opportunity to be outside in God’s Creation. I take several walks every day, just like I always have (beagles demand no less!), but I find that I’ve been enjoying them in a different way. I’ve been overjoyed to find new flowers blooming behind iron gates. I’ve looked forward to finding the butterflies that enjoy fluttering around one particular yard in the next block over. I’ve loved finding the morning glories tucked up tight in the afternoon, waiting for the new dawn to explode with color.
I don’t entirely know why I’ve been feeling this way. Maybe it’s because a simple walk around the block feels like an excursion in a way it didn’t a year ago. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had a chance to travel to some beautiful locale across the country. Maybe it’s because smaller things just have more meaning these days and I’m finding new wells of gratitude for the simplest, easiest joys. All of these are probably at least partially true, but I think there’s another reason that’s even more important. I think I’m craving quiet. I’m hungry for beauty. I’m longing for peace. The ugliness of the world around me, with its pain and injustice and meanness, makes me desperate for a moment of stillness, a space where I can take a cleansing breath and catch a glimpse of something achingly lovely.
I wonder if this is part of the reason why Jesus took the disciples to the top of a mountain on the day he was transfigured. I wonder if he knew that they needed a gift of a moment of quiet beauty just as much as they needed the reassurance of the implicit theological significance of the mountaintop. Maybe Christ knew that there are times in all our lives when we just need a break – for our minds, for our hearts, and even for our eyes. The collect for today on this Feast of the Transfiguration, reflects this truth:
O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I would love to behold the King in his beauty and be delivered from the disquietude of this world. I think that’s why my walks have seemed so important these days: they’ve become opportunities to see life transformed, to find places where the veil is drawn back between this world and the next and I can behold Christ, wonderfully transfigured, before me.
Of course, there is just one more thing.
As much as the disciples might have needed this moment, they also needed to go back down the mountain. Peter’s idea to build a couple of tents and escape for a while didn’t go over particularly well. Instead, they took all that they had found on the mountaintop, all of the inspiration and strength, and they carried it with them back down into the world. They walked right back into the world’s disquietude, planting seeds of justice, mercy, truth, and love along the way.
Go up the mountain, my beloved. Take some time on this Feast of the Transfiguration to steep yourself in the beauty of God’s Creation. Find a place where you can breathe and luxuriate in Christ’s presence.
And then go back down the mountain and see if you can’t just witness Christ’s presence there too.
Yours in Christ,