a peculiar gift, awe, enlightenment, everyday, gifts, God, inner knowing, James, John, Mark, mystical experiences, ongoing journey, openess, Peter, presence of God, shining like the sun, The Sophia Center for Spirituality, Thomas Merton, transfiguration
One of the posts here during my Israel trip spoke of Thomas Merton’s mystical vision of people “walking around shining like the sun.” I’m reminded of that image this morning in reading Mark’s version of the familiar story of The Transfiguration, when Jesus was praying and his companions, Peter, James and John, saw him shining in the same way. (MK 9:2-10) As Merton says, mystical experiences cannot be understood with our ordinary minds but only by “a peculiar gift” – a total openness to the presence of God perhaps – which may be fleeting but never forgotten.
I’m interested this morning in the immediate reaction of the apostles – a mixture of terror and awe – which led Peter to suggest that they set up tents and stay on the mountain. And why not? Wouldn’t it be a natural desire if we had such a brilliant experience that revealed a depth heretofore unknown to us to hold onto it? But no. The moment passed and Jesus was again the Jesus they experienced in the everyday. Now, however, the three knew something that they did not know before, something inexplicable that Jesus told them to keep to themselves. Trying to explain it to others would have been difficult and perhaps distracting from the mission of Jesus. If people were to hear of the “ability” of Jesus to be transformed into a being of light they might long for that experience of him and no longer listen to the message of their own transformation into love. So it is with us. If we are granted moments of enlightenment in whatever way they come to us we ought to be grateful for we will be changed. The challenge is to see these moments of insight (inner knowing) as gifts and to take them to ourselves as strength for the ongoing journey into God who continues to love us more than we can ask or imagine.