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Peony (Transfiguration)Jesus took Peter, John, and James
and went up the mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance
and his clothing became dazzling white.

-Luke 9:28-29

Today’s gospel reading is of the Transfiguration of Jesus which is a story of seeing and how beauty becomes a window onto the divine. The burning light that once appeared to Moses in the bush now radiates from Jesus himself.

For Gregory Palamas (a 14th c. Orthodox monk), it was the disciples who changed at the transfiguration, not Christ. Christ was transfigured:

… not by the addition of something he was not, but by the manifestation to his disciples of what he really was. He opened their eyes so that instead of being blind they could see.

Because their perception grew sharper, they were able to behold Christ as He truly is.

We will only see beauty if we practice. To peer into a deeper reality is a metaphysical endeavour, requiring that we ‘see’ with more than merely our eyes, and that we sense with more than merely our natural senses.

Theologian Thomas Dubay writes:

(t)he full experience of a rose requires that we see with our minds the inner energy, the hidden origin, the radical form, and not simply the manifested colors, shapes, and proportions.

Experiencing a rose’s beauty (or a peony, as in the photo) involves more than merely our natural senses, more than our everyday powers of seeing.

The discipline of spiritual practice helps us to cultivate our ability to see below the surface of things, to have a transfigured vision of the world.  The desert journey of Lent helps us to strip away what impedes our sight so that “the inner energy, the hidden origin, the radical form” begins to shine through.

What radiance awaits you today if you only take time to look and really see?

© Christine Valters Paintner at Abbey of the Arts:
Transformative Living through Contemplative & Expressive Arts

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