Remember the Mountain to Live in the Valley

This coming Sunday we will celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration. The Feast commemorates the moment when Christ took Peter, James, and John up a mountain and was transfigured before their very eyes. In a moment of dazzling brightness, Christ appeared to them clothed in white, radiant with glory, beautiful. In that blessed moment, the end of the story broke into the middle of the story, and Jesus showed them the glory that was to come for them, for his people, for the world.

But it wasn’t the end of the story yet. There was, as the passage in Luke 9 says, a departure, an exodus that awaited him in the valley. And so it is for us. No matter the clarity of the revelation of the mountain, life still awaits in the valley. So the trick becomes learning to live in the valley in light of the truth of the mountain.

I learned this lesson anew this past week.

Last week I had the privilege of spending four nights in the backcountry of Colorado. Along with a number of other Anglican leaders, I had the opportunity to hear from God in a fresh way. It was a time of renewal, refreshing, clarity, and healing.

The lesson I am learning as I reenter life is that the transfiguration of the mountain paves the way for transformation in the valley. The mountain reminds of what is real, of who God really is. The mountain reminds us that we are bound for glory. The mountain gives us a glimpse of the end of the story so that we can live out the rest of our story in the valley. But the valley is where we are truly changed.

One of the leaders on my trip reminded us all of this by reading us a passage from C.S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair. In this passage, Aslan speaks to Jill both of the clarity of the mountain and the need to remember what she has seen once she is in the valley:

“But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.”

As you come to celebrate the Transfiguration this week think about how you can remember, remember, remember the signs in your own life. What have those signs been for you? And how are you reminding yourself of those signs? And what is it in the valley that keeps you from remembering? How can you learn them by heart?

I encourage you to mediate on these things as we come together to celebrate this great feast.