Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. Then they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He said to them, “Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.” Mark 9:2-13
Years ago, when I was newly ordained, I flew to Florida to see my sister who was facing another cancer surgery. I walked into her hospital room, and stood by the door for a minute. The vision I saw was my sister Pegi, my parents one on each side of her bed, and her face was radiant despite her bald head. I understood, standing there that she was dying very soon and my heart broke. I also understood she was beloved and going to a better place. Her painful journey would be over and her joy would be complete. She died a week or so later, and I miss her to this day but cling to that vision of love enlightened in the midst of great sorrow.
Jesus begins his journey to Jerusalem by taking a retreat to the mountains where he encounters great ancestors and is again reminded how loved he is. The disciples don't know what to do with this vision. But the vision was for them as well as for Jesus, as it is for us. In the midst of great pain and challenges, we are to be reminded that the love from God surrounded us, makes beauty where there is strife, and casts out the darkness that can seemingly overwhelm us. God's love abides and shines, despite the isolation and pain we might feel.
Today I ask God to help me remember the vision of the constant presence of divine love. The world may seem spinning out of control and yet we are encompassed by God's love which sets of feet firmly and safely on the journey ahead. May we remember and be courageous as we move on, never alone, and buoyed up by love we share.