When Pictures Become Windows
There are times in our lives when we look around and wonder, “Is this all there is?” We look at our lives, our circumstances, and we want more. There is a restlessness, a searching, and longing for something else. Some call it a mid-life crisis. It can make us do crazy things – this searching and seeking. We get a new job, a new car, a new relationship. Maybe we take up a new hobby, go on a trip, or work extra hours. But not much changes. It is not about the circumstances of life. It’s about us. The restlessness, the desire for something more, generally means that we have been living life at the shallow end of the pool. Life and relationships have become superficial. We have been skimming across the surface. In some ways life at the surface is easier and more efficient, as we are encouraged and rewarded by much of the world today. It fails, however, to see and experience that the world is already transfigured and creation is filled with the divine light. Life on the surface keeps us judging the circumstances. We look at our circumstances as a picture. If it is pretty, pleasing, and shows us what we want to see, then God is good and life is as it should be. When we don’t see what we want then we often look for a new picture. The restless searching, the longing for more, and the desire for meaning are not, however, usually answered by changed circumstances. The answer is found in depth, intimacy, and the vulnerability of the interior journey.
We do not need to see new things. We need to see the same old things with new eyes. We do not need to hear a different voice. We need to hear the same old voice with different ears. We do not need to escape the circumstances of our lives. We need to be more fully present in those circumstances. When this happens life is no longer lived at the surface. These are the transfigured moments, moments when the picture of our lives become windows into a new world and we come face to face with the glory of God.
There on the mountain they saw Jesus “transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.” The cloud overshadowed them and the Father’s voice spoke of his beloved son. Peter wants to build dwelling places. He wants to frame Jesus, Elijah, and Moses. “It is good for us to be here,” he says. He wants to preserve it. He wants to take a picture.
Pictures, however, are static. On the Mount of Transfiguration our pictures of life’s circumstances become windows through which we step into a new world, a new way of seeing, a new way of hearing, and new way of being. That’s what happened for Peter, James, and John. Jesus did not suddenly light up and become something he was not. No, their eyes were healed and opened so they could see Jesus as he had always been. The voice in the cloud was not new. Their ears were opened and they heard the voice that has never ceased speaking from the beginning. The transfiguration is as much about them as it is about Jesus. Whenever our picture of life’s circumstances becomes a window into new life we stand in a transfigured moment. Circumstances haven’t changed. We have changed and that seems to change everything.
We often want to go back to those transfigured moments. We are tempted to build dwellings places for those moments. Booths, dwelling places, will only keep us in the past. To the extent we cling to the past we close ourselves to the future God offers. So Jesus, Peter, James, and John came back down the mountain. They could not stay there, but neither did they leave the mountain. They took it with them. It is what would carry them through the passion and crucifixion to the resurrection.
Transfigured moments change us, sustain us, prepare us, encourage us, and guide us into the future, regardless of the circumstances we face. They show us who we are. We are the transfigured people of God. Open your eyes and see a transfigured world. Open your ears and hear the transfiguring voice. Open your heart and become a transfigured life.
Every picture of life is an open window that says, “No, this is not all there is.”