Daffodils are blooming in my yard this week, and whenever I see them, I can’t help but hum the tune of the lovely Methodist hymn I sang as a child:
In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter, there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.
Every year, spring surprises me in the same way—every year, I’m delighted that those lumpy tubers and grey bulbs, those dead Easter lilies I hastily shoved in a hole last summer and forgot about, God remembers. Their inner glory is known to him in all seasons. I certainly don’t sing “The Hymn of Promise” to the bulbs lying dormant in the winter ground—I don’t have the eyes to see. But God knows our weaknesses, our forgetfulness. I think that is why my wedding ring is engraved with today’s Gospel reading. When my husband and I married, we each chose a selection of Scripture to have engraved in one another’s rings. He chose the account of the Transfiguration for mine; thus, I have Matthew 17:1-9 inscribed in my ring. After almost twelve years of marriage, I have found he was wise beyond his years in selecting this particular passage for me to wear daily.
For it is within married and family life that it is so easy to forget what the Transfiguration shows us—that each of us is made for glory. When Jesus is transfigured before the disciples, he not only reveals to us the glory and the radiance of his divinity, but he also reveals our own. God’s plan for each of us is to share in Christ’s divinity; to have, likewise, faces shining like the sun; to enjoy a resurrected body and the beatific vision. For this we were created.
And yet. And yet we live with that person with the grating temperament, that annoying habit, that human weakness, that snotty kid who prefers your pants to a tissue, that spouse who is too exhausted from work to get through a bedtime story. As mothers we often get our family members’ worst selves—they save their best for classmates, teachers, coaches, clients, colleagues, and bosses. Perhaps our children have been given a disheartening diagnosis; perhaps they are defiant teenagers or adults struggling with addiction. Perhaps they have not been their best self in years, and it is so hard to imagine the glory for which they were created.
When we are commanded to see Christ in our neighbor, it’s not just Jesus’ humanity we are to envision. Yes, our neighbor and those in our own home are hungry and thirsty and naked just as Jesus was, and we should feed and clothe them, but we must do so with a vision of the divinity that lives within them. We must envision that daffodil before it sprouts. If our children and spouses are to experience the love of God through us, then we must begin to look upon them as God does. Let us pray then that during this season of Lent our sacrifices will lead to a clearer vision of the beautiful reality that each of our families hold. Let us be able to say with Peter, “Lord, It is good for us to be here.”