So what does it mean to be transfigured--notice I don't use the word transformed. I can't help but picture the scene from the first Harry Potter movie when in "transfiguration class" Ron tries to turn his rat into a cup. It doesn't work out as planned. The rat does take the shape of the cup, but the cup retains the rat's fur and tail. So much for cheers.
What does it mean to be transfigured? To have the substance and form that makes up who we are changed into something else? Is their a spiritual side to this? Can we change on the outside and not be changed on the inside and visa versa? Is it harder to experience this the older we get? Can we even expect to experience this when we get set in our ways? And does any of this even matter?
On the Last Sunday before Lent--in 2008 it is February 3--we will hear the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus. For a moment in the Gospel, Jesus is transfigure into the beauty and fullness of all He is--both human and divine. And in doing so, he shows us a glimpse of what awaits us in the nearer presence of God. For Jesus, this happened while he was embracing his humanity. For us mortals it means embracing who we are as those created in God's image, and letting go ever so slightly of a need to control and a faith placed only in ourselves.
But who are we kidding. We don't want to be told what to do. We want to tell others what to do. We don't really want to be told what to believe, because most of us already know it all. And God forbid we are asked to move beyond the comfortable space every human being tries to surround themselves with. In the midst of our intractability, we are still genuinely surprised when life throws us a curve. And sadder still when we are so stuck in believing that we alone know best that we don't even realize that anything about us ever needs to be transfigured.
The reality is this. In that moment at the transfiguration, Jesus stands on the mountain and in the midst of his humanity he is surrounded by the tangible glory of God the Father. In that moment we see Him as He is...and in our own moment we must realize it is only when we can let go, and move into that cloud of holiness with Christ that we can ever expect that transfigured life as well.