Monday, January 28, 2008

that changes a few things...

This Sunday, we celebrate the transfiguration of Jesus.  That is, the story of how Jesus went up a mountain with some of the disciples, and was wonderfully, mystically transfigured with light, revealing his glory.  Set in the midst of the ordinary life he'd been sharing with these disciples, suddenly his divine power was obvious.  

It changed a few things.

After a revelation as bold and brilliant as this transfiguration, they wanted to respond.  Their idea: build a monument.  Jesus wanted more.


I treasure the many ways artists have imagined this scene.  What a challenge: showing transfiguration, using the tools of the "regular" world.

In early 14th Century Italy, Duccio painted the scene on the wall of a little chapel in Padua.  While the others in the story are shown with regularly-colored clothes, Jesus is clothed in gold.  Shiny, metallic gold.  Holier, even, that Moses and Elijah, who appear at his sides.  The disciples, blinded by the light, crouch down to mark and honor this mystery.

A contemporary artist, Alex Gray, creates an image of transfiguration that feels cosmic--rising above the earth, glowing and marked by a geometric pattern that feels full, complete and universal, this transfiguration is beyond anything of the world, alone.
It's sometimes tempting, when reading stories like this one, to get caught up in whether it's true--how it would work, what science could describe.

I prefer to wonder about what it means for us.

It's clear that both the disciples and Jesus were interested in response: how are we changed by this transfiguration?  How do we honor this revelation?  What does it change for us?

I've been intrigued by a project I found online: the yellow arrow.  It's a global, community art project--people are invited to put yellow stickers around their communities, pointing to "things that matter."  Then, using text messaging and the internet, they can add bits of information that can be similarly accessed by anyone who finds the arrow.  

The arrows mark the world as "art."  Or as things worth noticing.

I wonder what it would look like if we started better marking the presence of holiness in the world around us?  Now just up high on mountain tops, but all around us?

I think that's what the transfiguration was about--it was a mystical moment of revelation, where Jesus' holiness was suddenly, strikingly clear.  But he wasn't holy just in that moment.  The task is to find signs of transfiguration all around us.

What would you mark?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wikipedia has enlightened, somewhat. And so therefore through understanding and calmness brought me closer to god. They seem to really come through for me in a pinch. So, I would foolishly mark wikipedia as something that leads to God.