Suddenly they saw him the way he was, the way he really was all the time, although they had never seen it before, the glory which blinds the everyday eye and so becomes invisible. - Madeleine L’Engle, “Transfiguration”
As a child, I fell in love with stories like A Wrinkle in Time and Harry Potter in which characters are suddenly swept out of ordinary life into a great adventure. For instance, Harry Potter has a dull, depressing life in a closet until he discovers that his true identity is part of a reality that was previously invisible to him. He is a key player in a magical battle between good and evil beyond what he could have ever imagined. I wanted my own letter from Hogwarts, for my life to turn into one of these narratives that so captivated my imagination. And still, I want to be invited into an adventure that is beyond my own small life.
The Transfiguration is teaching me that I don’t have eyes to see the real story I have been invited into. My “everyday eyes” are blinded to Jesus.
Seeing is a thread that runs through Mark 8 and 9 leading up to the Transfiguration. The disciples argue about not having food after literally watching Jesus miraculously feed thousands of people. To which Jesus responds, “Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?” After Peter sees Jesus open the eyes of a blind man at Bethsaida, his eyes are metaphorically opened to Jesus’s true identity as the Christ. Jesus then tells the disciples that some standing before him will see the kingdom of God come. This all builds to the climactic moment when Jesus transforms before Peter, James, and John on a mountaintop so that they see Him in His glory.
The entire time the disciples were with Him, Jesus always was the Son of God. But up to this point, the disciples struggled to see Jesus for who He really was.
Similarly, Jesus is at work and the story of the Kingdom is unfolding all the time, but I have very limited awareness of this reality. There are glimpses of glory all around me that go unnoticed because “having eyes I do not see.”
Maybe the real adventure I’m called to is learning to see what I deem as my ordinary days with ordinary people for what they really are, in their full eternal weight. Maybe the invitation I so desire has been laying unopened in the small encounters of my daily life.
As we enact the story of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection in Lent, we are invited to renew our imaginations, to see the ways our seemingly small lives are swept up in the story of all stories. My prayer is for eyes to see Jesus and the story of His Kingdom with a renewed hope and imagination.
Abby Hall lives in Woodley Park and teaches fifth grade. She can often be found trying to convince ten-year-old video game addicts to give her favorite books a chance.