Saturday, February 21, 2004

Longing for the Mountaintop, Redux

I've been thinking about this today. I'm not comfortable with that traditional approach I took on the Transfiguration earlier.

There's some other considerations beyond regarding Peter's knee-jerk reaction as being naive. Part of it is about the difficulty many have today with supernatural theism. If the Transfiguration is the definitive mountaintop experience, probably most of us don't have much of a mountaintop to climb down from.

Walter Wink and Marcus Borg, among others, have tried to point out that supernatural theism just doesn't work. It depicts a transcendent God who occasionally intervenes in human affairs. They suggest a God who, as Wordsworth would put it, "rolls through all things."

The difficulty in separating experience into categories of "supernatural" and "natural" is that it encourages us to believe that God is only encountered in the unusual, the miraculous, the spectacular. The natural world is seen as mundane, or even profane.

The movement of God is always from one moment of glory to the next moment of glory. We might split things up as natural or supernatural, secular or sacred, mundane or momentous, but our perception is not necessarily the reality. We are called to move from faith, to faith, trusting that God is in our midst, moving all around us and through us; transforming all of creation.

Those fishermen on the mountain with Jesus saw this glory, and their eyes were opened. If we open our eyes, maybe we might also? Of course, we may have to redefine what we consider glorious and sacred.

What might be often considered mundane, but might also be considered full of awe and wonder?

Watching the sun rise...amazing!
Beautiful music...awesome!
A child snuggling close...glorious!
Fresh fallen snow...beautiful!
Reconciling an argument...peace!
Quiet prayer...refreshing!

Once we begin to look for God's glory, we find it all around us. It's a matter of perspective.

Beyond the glory we stumble across in our daily routines, we can also be co-creators with God, by transforming our environment.

Today I came across an article by James McGinnis; Households of Faith. He tells about taking each of his young children to a large park, and encouraging them to pick out their own special prayer place. For the next years, as the children grew up, one of their parents would take them to their prayer place the day before any special religious commemorations, such as first communion or confirmation, so that together they could prayerfully reflect on the upcoming event. What a wonderful example of creating a mountaintop experience!

I still say that we need to live in the valley, to serve those who know nothing of the mountaintop. But, if we are to be of service, we need to have something to offer; which may require us to redefine the mountaintop.

It just may be that we may encounter the glory of God in the face of those we serve, if we look carefully, and listen closely.


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