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. [From Mark 9]
This is one of those Bible stories that makes me realize I am strange. On my better days, I read this the way the church has always read it: a story of the glory of God somehow displayed through Jesus in front of three of his closest friends, just before they all head toward Jerusalem and the cross. That’s it, of course.
On my less spiritual days, I am caught up in the laundry.
Laundry isn’t a household task I mind doing, but I’m not one of those people who can get rid of any stain. I have a couple of stain-fighting products I use, and if they don’t work, I just resign myself to hereafter wearing the stained item under a sweatshirt or around the house. I don’t often use bleach in the wash. When I do, I typically use too much and it actually yellows what I’m trying to whiten.
So in this story I read: “and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.” I imagine the Spirit, standing before a washing machine that bears a sign—“for Jesus only”—and pouring out of a bottle labeled “Dazzle!” to get those robes their remarkable white color. I need some of that.
The thing is, when I think of Jesus, I think of him as kind of a dusty guy, walking through a town with kids hanging on him and touching him with their hands that have just been making mud pies. I see him sitting on the ground teaching, drawing pictures in the dirt. I see him dripping food on his clothes as he eats with his friends.
Dazzling white? It just doesn’t seem to fit.
But… maybe sometimes we need a little “dazzle.” Maybe those striking moments
of pure joy,
of overwhelming gratitude
are just what we need. When we come back down the mountain, we hope to remember that underneath all those dusty moments of reality lies a dazzling brightness.
All of it is holy.
© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2012