By Ken Woodley
What a transcendent moment it was for us on a day toward the ending of winter. The holy silence was dotted with birdsong and our own labored breathing as Jesus led me and James and Peter up to the top of a high mountain. Looking down, we felt like birds, ourselves, gazing upon the world below. A world where we our soles had just been standing.
Suddenly Jesus was transfigured, right before our eyes. His face shone like the sun and his clothes were a dazzling white. The chorus of birds rose like a choir and there were notes we’d never heard before and butterflies everywhere that we had supposed were only the blooms of flowers just a moment before. Perhaps they had been. Perhaps we had been, too. I don’t know. It was so like a dream. Even I felt wings I couldn’t see.
Then Moses and Elijah appeared and we next heard the voice of God. I swear this is the truth. And it still is true. That’s what we tried to explain to the other disciples left below and to everyone else when Jesus sent us off to spread the Good News.
We hoped to make it clear to them that transcendent moments also await everyone upon their own “holy mountain”—the places where they feel most connected to God’s holy spirit. Where they experience a spiritual understanding or revelation, an answer to prayer.
Nurturing and cultivating these moments is essential. Peter, James and I still try to re-capture our mountaintop moment. Sometimes we come close, but close is still amazing. By regularly and consistently setting aside time for God—quieting yourself with prayerful meditation—you offer an invitation that has already been accepted.
The three of us re-learn that lesson every day. It takes discipline and faith.
Don’t assume that God is distant. I used to. We all did. But Jesus changed that. So, expect God to be there beside you. Talk to God—silently or aloud. I promise a moment will come when you sense the Holy Spirit telling you something. You’ll feel a nudge in your soul or, as Peter describes it, “the morning star” rising in your heart. I loved it when Peter came up with that description. It’s the peace that passes all understanding.
No, it is not always the answer that we expect or, perhaps, even want. But there are bends in the road around which only God knows what is waiting. God is with us on the way to that bend in the road, and God will remain with us after that bend has become the next straight stretch of our lives.
You know what? Come on. Right now. Join us. We’re not really only a dozen disciples, you know. On some days there are so many people following along that there isn’t enough food to go around. That’s when Jesus gathers the loaves and fishes one more time. And one more time after that. There’s enough Holy Spirit to feed us all. I promise.
So, let’s go climb a “holy mountain” together with Jesus and see what we find there, discover what happens. Right now. Seriously. The truth is that we don’t need to go anywhere because the “holy mountain” most worth climbing is the one deep inside us, that special place in our soul where we are revealed as our deepest, child-of-God selves.
There, with Christ, we are transfigured. I’ll never forget Mary Magdalene telling me about the moment of her own transfiguration with Jesus. She told me it had felt like the sun was rising and setting inside her at the same time. She felt a sky of great beauty in her soul, and where there had only been darkness before.
No, your face may not shine like the sun. Mine didn’t. And your clothes probably won’t become dazzlingly white. Mine never look that clean. But you will feel the voice of God telling you that you, too, are beloved. And that love transfigures our inner landscape, transforms the topography of our soul.
The feeling that we have heard God’s answering voice, and the spirit of Jesus, may only last a second, but the echoes go on and on and on…
By Ken Woodley