February 7, 2016 – Listen to him, look to him

Transfiguration Ps 99, Exodus 34:29-35, 2 Corinthians 3:3-18, Luke 9:28-36 ***************************************************************** High on the mountain… We glimpse the glory of God in the face of Jesus transfigured, his clothes dazzling white. Moses and Elijah of old, also in glory, representing the law and prophets of Israel, conferring with Jesus… Then vanishing in the cloud… Peter wants to translate this revelation into something safer, more suitable for habitation… But the voice of God comes from the cloud, silencing him… And he and James and John say nothing of this experience till much later… And as the glory recedes into cloud and memory… and we head back down the mountain… I’ve been thinking of mountain top experiences… And prompted by last Friday’s snow, and the wondrous sight of trees hanging heavy with blazing whiteness… I’ve been remembering…Climbing Mt Jackson in New Hampshire’s White Mountains with my friend John Fitch, both of us then just a few months out of high school. John already a seasoned mountain-climber, who’d climbed all of New Hampshire’s (46) 4000-footers, most of them more than once, was now into climbing them all in winter. He was the guide, I the disciple, following… Our base camp was his aunt and uncle’s place in Northern New Hampshire. John got me out on snowshoes for my first time for a practice run, stepping around in a field, the day before we were to climb. Using ski poles to balance in the deep snow…Getting used to backpacks stuffed with food, water, extra clothing… Next morning we were up by five and out on the road…Snow was falling steadily. We parked at the foot of the mountain, and began climbing before full daylight. It was near the winter solstice; days were short. John knew how long the climb should take. He kept his eyes on his watch all day, to be sure we’d be back down before dark. But I don’t remember thinking at all about time – or much of anything except the startling brightness – far as we could see – everything covered in clear, bright, brilliance…. Soft powder snow kept falling, silently, through the day – calm, incredibly graceful… Strangely beautiful… We climbed in steady, step-step, step-step rhythm going up… Speaking only a little to save energy… Making only quick stops to eat… Snow continued falling…Winds blowing snow from trees in bright flurries. We could see only a few hundred feet. No long views for us from the summit when we got there. No voice spoke from out of the cloud… But we were caught up in clouds of almost frighteningly bright snow… Making me now think of disciples of old gazing at the dazzling brightness of Jesus… I was agnostic at the time. Even so, I had a glimpse of the glory of God, I believe… in the beauty of God’s handiwork on the mountain… I didn’t know a thing about prayer in those days – yet I was in a deep meditative rhythm, resembling, in retrospect, slow silent prayer…I believe I was sensing somehow the presence of God… Though I didn’t yet know there was a God… (We don’t need to know God… for God to be present, of course…) And we were touched by the presence of the Holy… Though I didn’t know yet how to...

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