Pitching a Tent
I originally wrote this post three years ago, shortly after having lost a dear friend to breast cancer. Of course, in the 3-year cycle of readings, Luke’s account of the Transfiguration is (once again) the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent. This reflection also makes its way into the first chapter of Continuing the Journey (which is now available in both English and Spanish, with a Leaders Guide–also in both English and Spanish… but I digress).
From February 2013…
My dear friend Amalour passed away last week. And in my grief, I am still having a difficult time paying attention to almost everything. So it didn’t come as any surprise when I had a hard time following the homily today at mass. The Gospel on the Second Sunday of Lent is the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28:-36).
Years ago (before kids), I facilitated a faith sharing group at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Maryland, and one of the women explained how the story of the Transfiguration was one of her favorites because it offered a glimpse of Jesus Christ glorified. I heard her words and felt moved by her passion, but that’s not how the story struck me.
Personally, I find myself identifying with Peter, James, and John. Like them, I would have been happy to follow Jesus up a mountain. Like them, I would have probably been overcome by sleep. Even before kids. And like them, I would probably been so awestruck, I would have been happy to to pitch a tent.
Actually, I would have been happy to have my husband pitch the tent while I set up camp.
At the Vigil service for Amalour’s funeral, her husband Brian offered one of the most moving eulogies I have ever heard. Brian talked about Amalour’s unending quest for improvement. In their marriage–in their lives–they’d do the work and come to a plateau. It was a nice plateau, on which Brian was ready to pitch a tent and enjoy the view. And Amalour would say no; we’re not there yet. We can do better than this. There’s more to see; there’s more to do. Again, and again, and again in their lives, Amalour was always striving for something more… for something better… in all the ways that mattered.
I am a do-er. I’d like to think of myself as someone who walked alongside Amalour on the path of growth. In many ways, I know I have. But I also know one of my weaknesses is doing too much. I have been guilty of distracting myself from the real, true, important things in life with busyness… filling my days with so much stuff that I don’t have time to think. When I’m in this mindset, pitching a tent and enjoying the view sounds like a GREAT idea! In fact, I’ll even busy myself with setting up camp.
Thing is, life is more of a journey than a sit-down and watch (or in my case, get everything ready to sit down and watch). And sometimes that journey is hard. Very hard.
I can imagine that witnessing the Transfiguration was to be a gift to inspire Peter, James, and John for the journey that lay before them. It was not meant to be the end of the journey… or even a break from the journey.
So the challenge, I suppose, is to take those moments of grace, peace, hope, and light and allow them to inspire us along the path. To avoid the temptation to pitch a tent as though that moment was the end-all-be-all. To avoid the temptation to busy ourselves with setting up camp instead of doing the real work of journeying through life.