Posted by: jevcat | March 21, 2010

Lent IV

I think for most of us Lent is something of a long slog.  When I was young, I hated it, dreaded it, couldn’t wait for it to be over, although Easter, as far as I was concerned, couldn’t hold a candle to Christmas.  Over the years, though, it’s kind of grown on me, although it’s still something of a long slog.

Although I have a very low tolerance for the “oh what a lowly worm am I” school of Christianity – and Lent tends to be brimful of it – I like the reflectiveness that Lent accommodates.  And this week’s daily lectionary readings are some of my favorites:  Transfiguration and those wonderful Chapters 12 and 13 of First Corinthians.

My Beloved and I argue the merits of St. Paul.  He thinks Christianity would have been better off without Paul.  I think Christianity would be better off if Paul had been less enamored of Neoplatonic philosophy.  I get mad at Paul (and madder at the epistles attributed to him that he probably didn’t actually write), but I forgive him all when I read I Corinthians 12 and 13:  We are all gifted, we all need each other to be whole, and “these three abide:  faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.”

Then there’s Peter.  I have always loved St. Peter – who doesn’t:  he’s us! – and especially at Transfiguration I love him up on that mountain top.  Hell, I don’t even want the work of the climb, although I find the idea of the mountain top appealing — but once we make it up there, let’s stay! 

My Beloved once tricked me into climbing a mountain at Harriman State Park after I’d said I was not about to do that by suggesting instead we walk an old carriage road that he knew through the woods there.  We ambled along, following its gentle, switchbacking path, then cutting through some brush (more rugged and I was decidedly dubious about that part) to a rock outcropping he wanted to look at, and like a curtain lifting, there we were, far above Silver Mine Lake, with the color-washed autumn world all around us and the air itself ablaze with hundreds of ladybugs.  It was magical and glorious (he was only a wee bit smug) and I didn’t want to leave – yes, let’s build those booths!  Let’s stay in this marvelous moment when the glory of creation and life and God and us all feel as though they’ve suddenly become one (as if they weren’t – but we forget, down there in the valley).  Why would we ever go?  But dusk is nearing, and it’s getting colder, and we’re getting hungry, and … and so we go, because we have to.  We have lives down there, and work to do, if not today, tomorrow.

We took a different way down that day, part of the Appalachian Trail, and steep.  I bumped my way down part of it on my seat, not trusting my balance (it is truly embarrassing to be less sure-footed than a partner who uses a crutch – although I tell him it gives him an unfair advantage of extra balance).  But I WAS on that mountaintop, the memory of it is clear and bright and sustaining.  And maybe someday, I’ll do it again, without having to be tricked.  Because I’ve been there and I know I can. 

Will it be the same?  No; it’s never the same, but that doesn’t matter.  It’s always ours, and part of us never leaves – or maybe it’s just we take it with us.  Who knows if Peter ever went back to that mountain top, but it was still present with him at the end of his life:  we know it’s true, “We were with him on the mountain top.”

Leading into Passiontide – the Church’s and, maybe our own small ones, depending on where our lives are at the moment – may we carry that mountain top moment with us, and experience it again at Easter and always.


  1. Thanks for giving me a virtual leg-up during this tiring tail-end (when Lent seems especially sloggish to me; running out of zeal). I do live for the mountain-top moments, and need reminding that, if I were not required to come down, they wouldn’t BE mountain-top moments.
    Paul? He is my really smart but sometimes irksome uncle (maybe literally, since I have a Yiddishe Mama). Sometimes I want to smack him upside the head but our family wouldn’t be complete without him.

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