Today, August 6, marks the Feast of the Transfiguration, which is one of my favorite feasts of the year. We actually tend to mark this feast on two different Sundays. I remember when I taught Sunday school with tweens, this set of readings came up on the last Sunday after the Epiphany, which is the last Sunday before Lent begins. It took quite a bit of discussion before they came to realize that it was after the Transfiguration that Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem, which of course led to his arrest and crucifixion. Hearing the story of Transfiguration is a fitting end to the season of light that follows Christmas and the Epiphany, and a fitting opening to our own yearly journey to Jerusalem and Holy Week.
But this is not August. Christmas and Lent and Easter are faded memories now, and in the middle of our hot summer, we get this mountaintop experience – the mountaintop experience. We often get mountaintop experiences during the summer – when we take ourselves on grand vacations or pilgrimages or retreats – and then we face the inevitable let-down when we return to the everyday, the normal, the stressful, the tedious, the boring. This transition back to the mundane can be really tough, especially if we’ve let ourselves be exhausted by our journey up the mountain and back.
I’d wanted to say something really profound and thought-provoking here, but I don’t really have anything. I am just thankful that I got to enjoy these readings today, to climb the mountain with Peter and James and John, and to wonder (as I do every year) what they must have been thinking on their way back down. Did they chatter? Were they silent? Was it a comfortable silence between friends? Or was it awkward, Peter feeling stupid and let down after his eagerness, and John and James afraid to say anything that might make them feel stupid as well?
And I’m thankful to have a questioning mind, and a soul that doesn’t have to have all the answers, that is growing more comfortable living in mystery. Because we have a great deal of mystery in our stories, and this is one of the most beautiful and most mysterious of them.
Peace be with you. And when you journey to the mountaintop, I wish you a grand and glorious mountaintop experience. And as you journey back to the quotidian, I pray that you will find peace and harmony in that return, and that you will always carry a bit of glorious mountaintop in your heart.
P.S. On Tuesday, August 7, a Transfiguration story will be posted on The Taleswappers’ Porch – hope you stop by there, and hope you enjoy it! There’s a whole host of stories there for your reading pleasure.