I work in Photoshop almost daily. Even though I do my best when I’m taking pictures to get the composition, lighting, and exposure just right, sometimes a photo needs a little tweaking. Sometimes it needs a total overhaul.
One of my favorite Photoshop tools is the brightness/contrast adjustment slider. If there isn’t enough brightness in the shot, or if there’s too much, I can use the slider to make changes. Once I have the brightness where I want it, I modify the contrast between light and dark. It’s amazing what a difference this makes. Previously muddled areas on the photo are sometimes brought to life as eye-captivating details of a bird’s feathers, wood grain, or a facial expression.
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’ When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid.’ And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’ [from Matthew 17]
This week’s story of the transfiguration of Jesus is all about the light—brightness and contrast. Jesus’ face and clothing shine (a clear reference to how Moses looked in the Exodus stories after being in God’s presence). There is a bright cloud. The presence of Moses and Elijah and the voice from the cloud knock the disciples down with fear, until Jesus’ touch tells them it all is right. Their pupils recovering from the light, they squint into the restored familiar face of the teacher.
What an amazing vision of light, presence, sound.
Then, they have to go back down the mountain and head into some very dark times. Though the brightness they have experienced on the mountain will be with them only in memory and spirit, they may begin to develop a better sense of contrast.
Good and evil may look more different from each other now that they’ve experienced closeness with eternal goodness. Fairness may be more distinguishable from injustice once they’ve been in the presence of eternal light. Truth may more easily be separated from falsehood since they have been in contact with eternal word. As they walk the difficult path to Jerusalem, the ability to see the contrast will keep their spirits alive, discerning, and safe.
For us, the gift of spiritual contrast now provides the ability to unmuddle the pictures that confront us as we walk our path. Those pictures of what is going on in the world can be complicated, crowded with competing images—including images that appear to be something they’re not. We rely on eternal goodness, light, and word to help us figure it out. To help us remember those moments of brightness and clarity.
To see the contrast.
© 2017 Melissa Bane Sevier