Coming Down from the Mountain

This past week, we drove for eleven straight hours to get to Colorado for a brief vacation. When vacations start, especially with three littles, I am usually not very relaxed. Bags have to be packed, laundry washed, kids and favorite blankets accounted for... and then there is the long, grueling drive. But somewhere along the road in every trip, whether at hour three or ten, I feel the transformation in me begin. The stress of work and the mess that has piled up at home and the deadlines and the bills... it starts to all melt away. Gradually. Then more quickly. And then, almost suddenly, I feel completely at peace. Fittingly for today’s Gospel passage, the peace arrived this time somewhere along the slow climb of our minivan up the side of a mountain. The peace came and lingered as we played and enjoyed the crisp air and the walks in a nature foreign to our own at home. Then, as quick as it had come, the peace and tranquility of our mini-vacation threatened to disappear as we were back in the car, rolling slowly down the mountainside.

As I reflected on today’s Gospel passage, I wondered about the part not mentioned - the part that explained what the apostles felt coming down from the mountain. They had not just seen but felt deep inside serious emotion during the transformation that had just occurred at the top. I imagined they walked silently down, almost reverently, wondering if they’d be able to hold onto even a thread of the feelings they were having, feelings that they couldn’t quite explain... the feelings that took hold of their hearts the moment their friend stood before them in dazzling white. Even while still up on the mountain, Peter had tried to hold fast to these feelings asking the Lord for permission to build three tents. Like him, I too wanted to place a tent over my family this past week and keep us held in these moments of beauty and peace. But Peter, John, and James had to come down and we did too... because there was more to do. There was more impact for all of us to make, more dreams to pursue, more valuable work to be done back with our feet stably on the ground.

Re-entry after a vacation or a retreat or a profound moment of transformation with the Lord can be so hard.

So how do we hold onto these moments of tangible encounter with God, hold onto the beauty of these moments and use what we have felt in the core of who we are to re-enter the world with passion, joy, and hope? I think the answer has a lot to do with how we let theses transformations affect us. Do they change our day or do they change our hearts?

And so it is with this season we are in right now. Will we let the transformation that is possible in Lent change our March and our April? Or will we instead internalize its impact and let it change our hearts in a more permanent fashion?

Author: Gretchen Crowder, Director of Campus Ministry


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