Sunday, February 19, 2012
A Flash of Divinity
On the Sunday before Lent begins, which is also the last Sunday of the season after the Epiphany, we always read an account of the Transfiguration of Jesus as the Gospel lesson. It is both the culmination of the themes of Epiphany (the manifestation of the Divine on earth, a vision of the Light of the World) and a foreshadowing of the Resurrection - a moment of dazzling white - just as we stand on the edge of the season of Lent. Transfiguration Sunday and Easter Sunday bracket Lent, standing brightly on either side of that season of penitence and discipline like the pillar of cloud that went before and after the Israelites as they crossed prepared to cross out of Egypt and into the wilderness.
The story about Jesus flashing his divinity on the mountain peak is peopled not only by Jesus and Elijah and Moses, by also by dull disciples who do not know what to make of this scene. They are hardly to be blamed. To stand next to the flame in this way invites not only wonder and awe but long reflection. What does it all mean? We need time to absorb and process and get it fixed into our minds. And so Peter wants to build a booth, to make a way to stay there for as long as possible. To bask, to luxuriate, to just be in the presence of the Divine.
But the whole thing lasts for just a moment. Many of the people who report having had something like a vision experience it as a momentary flash. An idea, a feeling, a warmth or light or presence appears, perhaps clear as day, perhaps simply a fleeting "something" behind the eyes, and then is gone.
And we are left with the image, the thought, the feeling, whatever it is, to ponder in the days to come.
So ponder we will during Lent. What does it mean for us and for the world, this Divinity that shows up in flashes here and there? Will our Lenten disciplines be aimed not at trying to keep the Divine in one place but to seek and try to recognize it in all of the places where we go?
Divinity shows up unexpectedly, for a moment, here and there.
Lord, give me the eyes to see it.