Sunday 19th Feb (Transfiguration)

Long ago, when we were all much younger, Prof. Julius Sumner-Miller – in his TV program – would as the question, “Why is it so?” and then proceed to unravel some of the ‘mysteries’ of our physical world. This is often what we want to do when we read the Bible; it’s a problem of how we read what we read. We read newspapers, watch the TV news or current affairs programs and to a great extent expect the Bible, our worship and our experience of God to be likewise rational, factual, explainable. But then mystery is no longer mystery.

Throughout the Bible mountains and clouds are symbolic of the presence of God. In Sunday’s reading from Mark’s Gospel, Jesus takes Peter, James and John on retreat; up a mountain, apart, close to God. Being enveloped by fog/cloud is eerie, disorienting enough in our ‘normal’ environment, but it’s all the more so on a mountain where most of us are apart from our usual ‘two-dimensional’ surroundings. Coincidental with beginning this post, I received an email from my sister inviting me to view a gallery of photos from the Himalayan trek she and her husband undertook last year. Breath-taking stuff.

Climbing a mountain brings with it an other-wordly feeling that reaches part of us that life on the plain does not. In that still, eerie, disorienting cloud we might just catch a glimpse of God’s vision – and experience God’s presence. But will we be awake, alert for the unexpected?

Facts – life on the plain – can be known. What is unknowable remains a mystery and mystery has the capacity to continue to engage us and transform us as we rejoin the often difficult, messy yet randomly beautiful life on the plain.

an impressive sign
of Jesus’ glory and identity;
an unimpressive picture
of Jesus’ disciples
who just didn’t get it;
tired and dull,
heavy with sleep.
Sleeping on a mountain,
as they did later
in Gethsemane’s Garden.
Too tired,
they came down in silence,
and told no one.

How often have we
slept through significant moments,
lived in a daze,
been oblivious to the thin place
in which we stood,
been blind to the vision
to be glimpsed?

Stay awake,
before it’s too late!
        © Jeff Shrowder, 2012.  More for Transfiguration of Christ…