Scripture Text: Mark 9: 2-10
2Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. 9As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.
We read this weeks ago before we began this wilderness journey. It’s interesting now after we’ve let go and denied our comforts and acknowledged our losses to read it again with new eyes, eyes that only the wilderness can give us. The wilderness has taught us to see things differently, to open our minds and widen our souls. It has called us to remove the veil that we have created in our lives to shield us from the things that do not make sense in our world. The journey through the wilderness has brought us to this place, brought us back to this mountain.
The truth was that Jesus knew that this account would only make sense in light of what was to come. The disciples would know when to tell the story. They saw more than Jesus on the mountain. They saw who and what he was. And long after Jesus is gone from this earth, they will continue to tell this strange story of what they saw. For now, he would just walk with them. God’s presence remains. The Hebrews understood that no one could see God and live. You know, I think they were right. No one can see God and remain unchanged. We die to ourselves and emerge in the cloud, unveiled before this God that so desires us to know the Sacred that has always been with us.
The truth is, when we are really honest with ourselves, we probably are a little like the disciples. We’d rather not really have “all” of God. We’d rather control the way God enters and affects our lives. We’d rather be a little more in control of any metamorphosis that happens in our lives. We’d rather be able to pick and choose the way that our lives change. We’d rather God’s Presence come blowing in at just the right moment as a cool, gentle, springtime breeze. In fact, we’re downright uncomfortable with this devouring fire, bright lights, almost tornado-like God that really is God.
Here in the wilderness, with bright white lights and shrouds of wonder, we have seen God. Here, in this place, where the wilderness has brought us. We have arrived open-eyed and soul-ready for God’s Presence to be made known. And then the lights dim and, if only for a little while, God stops talking. And in the silence, Jesus starts walking down the mountain toward Jerusalem.
You know, on some level, for all the dramatic sequences of this story, I think the way down the mountain is the point of it all. I mean, think about it, the disciples went up as students and came down as followers. The way down is where the transformation begins to be, when they know where they had to go. Now I’m sure that Jesus knew that the ones who walked with him were not ready. I’m sure he knew that they thought they had more time with him. I’m sure he knew that they doubted themselves. But it was time. And Jesus knew that if they followed, they would know the way. And in this moment, Jesus’ journey to the Cross begins.
And us? I’m sure Jesus knows how difficult this has been for us. I’m sure Jesus knows that there is a part of us that would’ve liked to have avoided the whole thing, to move from the Mardi Gras party right into the sanctuary when they are setting up the Easter lilies. But then we would have missed the wilderness and the meaning it holds. The wilderness has taught us that it is where we must go. You see, in this wilderness, we have changed. We have learned to let go, to get out of ourselves, to see things differently. We have learned to listen. We have learned to follow. We have learned to grieve. And that is what we will do. Jerusalem awaits.
The rare moment is not the moment when there is something worth looking at, but the moment when we are capable of seeing. (Joseph Wood Krutch)
Grace and Peace,