In Mark 9 today we came to the story of the Transfiguration – where Jesus is transformed in a miraculous way before the disciples. A light shines into their lives that is unlike anything they have experienced before. The story that follows immediately after, however, is a true “coming down the mountain” story. After this miraculous thing that they have witnessed, the disciples are unable to cast out a demon and we get a glimpse into the frustrations of Jesus when he laments about “how long must I content with this generation” and then he casts out the demon. I have always been struck by the contrasts between these two stories and wonder about the reasons behind Mark’s grouping of them.
Its not unlike the other mountaintop experiences that I have had in my life. I had one of them this past weekend with our church’s men’s retreat. It was, as it always has been, a tremendous time of growth, blessing, fun, and renewal. This year was no exception. I was encouraged, challenged, and blessed by the ways that Christ’s light shone in my life and in the lives of the other men there.
But as always, Sunday comes and the retreat ends and the challenge comes of continuing to live that out in the midst of “regular” life. I am grateful that I haven’t had any experiences like what Mark describes here in chapter 9, but there have been several things this week that have been much more in the realm of the mundane than the “extraordinary.” But I think that the extraordinary moments are there to help lift up the mundane. It helps to see the holy in the midst of the mundane and the ways that God is at work in prepping for an annual meeting, in coordinating logistics, in answering many emails, in paying bills, in so much else of life.
In his book, The Five Stages of the Soul, Harry Moody tells the story of a woman named Ann who had experienced a significant spiritual breakthrough in her life. When he asked her about it several years later she noted that the “high” had lessened but she said the following about it. “I think I live with a version of it a lot of the time now. But its not at the same intense level as before. It just kind of informs by life in a gentle way. You kind of fold it into your everyday awareness, and try to help as much as you can.”
That’s a healthy way of coming down the mountain and living time in the beautiful valleys in which we are able to live.