All that Radiance Lies Forlorn

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Reality or vision, this we have seen. If it had lasted but another moment, it might have held forever! But the world rolled back into its place, and we are here. And all that radiance lies forlorn, as if it had never stirred.

These words written by Edwin Muir in “The Transfiguration” describe for me a moment, just a brief moment, when I am able to transcend my daily grind. It describes a moment of ecstasy, and how such moments so quickly end. Consider the story of the transfiguration of Jesus.

Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.                                               – Matthew 17:1-8. New American Standard Bible (NASB)

What an astounding experience for Peter, James and John, an experience they would never forget. The Bible says that they fell to the ground, face down, in terror. And then the same One who had just been transfigured miraculously before them, now touched them with a gentle human touch and said, “Do not be afraid.”

I imagine that Peter, James and John were dramatically changed by this experience, that their souls were filled with awe . . . for a while. But like all humans, they soon went back to life as usual.

Yes, we do on occasion experience moments of spiritual ecstasy, small, radiant miracles that leave us in awe of the greatness of God. But the miracles are fleeting miracles. We don’t stay in those moments for very long, and as Edwin Muir said, “the world rolls back into its place, and all that radiance lies forlorn, as if it had never stirred.”

A Transfiguration Prayer

Take us up to the mountain, O God! And let us see the Christ transfigured.

Lead us up to the mountaintop when confusion rages within us and our anger releases its fury, For there on the mountain, the days and nights of our inner chaos can transform.

We know, God, that even in holy moments, we may find nothing. But we also know that we may find ourselves, or see the face of hope, or experience a fleeting miracle. So help us, God, to keep holy moments and divine appointments.

Help us keep holy moments, that the presence of Your Spirit might dwell with us in double measure. Help us see the light of glory, and, with great joy, behold on the mountain peak the purest light of all.

And then, with hope in our hearts and without fear, help us move with courage toward an even greater glory by following you through the valley of shadows. Amen.

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