As I read Underhill’s description of the transfiguration as disclosing the light which changes the landscape of our lives, I remembered something which happened to me a few years ago, which had something of that quality.
A colleague and I were leading a Quiet Day. It was a beautiful crisp, freezing winter’s day. We decided to send everyone else for an awareness walk – walking slowly and becoming aware of their surroundings and God’s presence with them. And we invited everyone to bring something back which reminded them of God’s presence to share at our closing Eucharist.
So out I went into the winter sunshine. And as I walked, I suddenly saw the most beautiful patch of glimmering, glittering stuff, reflecting a multitude of shimmering colours. It was so stunning, it brought me to an abrupt halt, and I stared at it for a long time, suddenly aware of the shining presence of the unseen God reflected. When I looked more closely, I saw that it was on the surface of a log – quite a big log – so I carried it back for our Eucharist, and popped it in front of the radiator.
Perhaps you’ve already guessed the punchline! By the time we came to share our finds, what I had was one very soggy log. The stunning, shimmering stuff had melted away. And I was so disappointed! It had been such a powerful encounter, I hadn’t even realised that what I was looking at was frost.
I laughed it off, but for some reason I still carried the log home with me, and kept it outside my front door for years until it slowly disintegrated. Perhaps like Peter, James and John at the transfiguration I was trying to hold onto something too transcendent to be caught and contained. But every time I passed that unremarkable old log, I remembered that one moment of strange, dazzling glory.
This year for #AdventBookClub we are reading ‘Music of Eternity: meditations for Advent with Evelyn Underhill’ by Robyn Wrigley-Carr. Join the conversation in the Facebook group, or by following the hashtag on Twitter.
Last year we discovered ‘ice flowers’ on the stems of the tall Salvia plants, which, in mid
Winter, were just dead sticks… a similar feeling, of something so rare, so strange, so unbelievable and so transitory….