06 August 2012
Alice von Hildebrand in one of her books gives some advice to a newly married woman: when things seem difficult in her relationship with her husband, remember him as she thought of him the moment she fell in love with him - his transfiguration moment - when she saw in him all he had the promise and potential to be.
Today the concept of transfiguration was brought to me in terms of gifts. The gifts we ask for. I'm sure we all have things we petition God for, on our own behalf and for loved ones, even strangers who ask for our prayers. There is a thing or two I have been praying over for some time, and I often wonder how the prayer will be answered.
Today I received an e-card from a friend for my birthday. It was delightful - an animated vignette of a dog dreaming of another dog to play with. On waking, he opens a birthday gift and out leap two little scamps of kittens who proceed to torment the poor dog. They eventually leave him alone, and he settles back into his basket, feeling lonely. This time he dreams of the kittens. He awakes to find them curled at his side in the basket, and he nudges them with his nose, perfectly content.
Later in the day, I decided to walk along the river. I love to be by water and really enjoy long meanders in the outdoors, especially if alongside water. I haven't had much opportunity to explore New Town yet, but thought I had an idea of where to go based on previous studies of the map, so off I went. I found what I thought was a promising site, parked the car, and headed off, jaunty, pleased, with a spring in my step, eager for the beauties of the river. I walked. And walked. The broad path narrowed to a track and went deeper and deeper into the trees. The brush began to press in closer and closer to the path, the branches began to close in overhead, and each winding curve only lead to another winding curve. I kept thinking: Surely the river will be just around the next bend? That must be water I hear over there? But no...the trees only led to more trees. Until at last they opened up and I found myself at a clearing...overlooking a road. No river in sight. No water to be heard. I was vastly disappointed as I turned around to trudge back to the beginning.
On the way, I finally realized what I was doing: I was wasting the gift I'd been given by longing for the one I didn't have. I love trees! Rambling along the forest floor is one of my favourite things to do, so why was I moping? Listen to the beautiful bird song; stand still to admire the flurry of butterflies in that clearing; notice how the wind through the tree tops sounds like joyful whispers; take a moment to breathe in that heady scent of sun-warmed pine.
Peter, James, and John weren't expecting what happened on that mountain top; Transfiguration is always beyond our expectations. I think the same holds true for answered prayers, whether big or small.