Today we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration. We read about both Moses and Jesus glowing from their encounters with God.
Moses comes down from the mountain and he is lit up! The people are afraid but they recognize this as a holy sign, but because of their fear Moses veils his face most of the time when he is with them.
Jesus and Moses become fully integrated in these mountain top moments. We talk about that in the spiritual life… about being “integrated.”
The transfiguration is more than a transformation, it is a moment of vibrant clarity in which Jesus understands his mission and identity as one with God.
Jesus is wrapped in light as we hear the words “this is my Son.” It is an occasion of God’s direct voice that only comes to us one other time in the Gospels: at Jesus’ baptism.
Jesus is fully integrated in this moment - and for the eyes and ears of a few disciples to witness. This time God’s voice doesn’t only speak to Jesus but says to everyone, “This is my Chosen Son.”
But the disciples do not speak of it. In Matthew Jesus instructs them not to speak of it. I believe Jesus wants us to have direct experience with God. He chooses to reflect God’s face back to all of us. In his common flesh...not glowing on the outside but glowing from the inside and we are a part of it. We are part of that divine spark.
The scene leaves us with a lot of questions: Why Moses and Elijah? Why does Peter want to build tents?
Theologian and commentator, Matthew Skinner, suggests
The presence of Moses and Elijah at the very least expose the great thread of tradition, that Jesus participates in. To paraphrase:
“Why are Moses and Elijah there? No matter how we look at the myriad of interpretations for their presence.. at least everything in the Gospel is saying pay attention to this guy Jesus.
'The hopes and fears of all the years’ are found in him. And in no way is he a departure from the old testament promise.”
We don’t all expect to glow with the encounter with God, although we would like to have such moments. What does it feel like to be in the midst of the Holy?
Would you tremble like the psalmist?
What is your response?
Very explicitly both of our stories suggest that we may not “glimpse the glory of God and not be changed.”
Moses face is transfigured…
Jesus himself and his clothing are transfigured.
How else might we individually be changed?
What other ways does this happen?
One thing we can do is remember and try to participate and enact those things that make us feel most integrated, and importantly connect us to this long tradition of humanity and wisdom and spirituality.
One of my nephews has started a “re-wilding” school around teaching ancient paths of nurturance. It is based on learning from nature and understanding plant medicine. It is going back to our ancient roots (literally). He has started a program bringing on other teachers; training kids in ancient skills for tool making, foraging, and medicinal plants, music, drumming.
While the younger generations might not always “get” what we are doing, I am confident that we are following in a deep trodden path of the ancients looking for spiritual wisdom, guidance; participating in rituals, ancient prayers to guide us - and to make us present - and a part of those who came before us.
To participate in this path… we must engage in those things that make us alive, make us feel integrated. That’s what my nephew is doing. Re-wilding. It means stopping the onslaught of busyness and media. Personal encounters with God are not likely going to arise when we are watching television or filling our mind up with constant distractions.
What makes you feel integrated, in the flow?
Besides prayer, I love sculpting. I love hiking. My mother in law loves to clean, truly. One of the retired deans from the Cathedral loves ironing. I know sometimes we cannot do some of the things that once gave us true fulfillment, like going to a concert -
or even participate in personal hobbies the way we used to.
But to remember we are part of a stream of human activity, knowledge, wisdom and action that make us one is helpful.
We can just look into the face of a flower and know that forever humans have enjoyed this simple gaze.
Simple activity can get us there. We can breath in and out and rest in our breath when we cannot sleep.
We can reach our hands out at the rail and receive communion.
It is very simple to be engaged with God really. And our interior light awakens in these moments when we feel connected.
Epiphany comes when we least expect it.
I believe Jesus was this least expectant presence: In flesh he was incarnate as a carpenter’s son, a guy that hung out with the outcasts of society. But a guy that healed people just by shining his light into the hearts of others. He gave us peace - which is now ours to give.
He came down from the mountain to be with us in this common flesh we share to teach us how to follow in his footsteps;
for us to know that he is in God, and God is in him, and we are in him. Integrated.
It is a one-ness that he continually tries to convey. It is a divine calling seeded in us - and is available to grow, by touching one another and shining that light out in as many ways as we can transmit.