Halting the Parade

Lou Lotz

READ : Mark 9:2-8

Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings. (v. 5)

On a sun-splashed July day some years ago I climbed Big Sheep Mountain in Wyoming. A seven-hour hike, 12,000 feet. When I reached the summit I ate a Hershey bar and drank some water. Then it was time to leave. Mountaintops are inhospitable places. It’s cold. The wind howls like a banshee. The air is thin, and breathing is difficult. Nobody would want to stay on a mountaintop.

Except Peter. Christ’s mountaintop transfiguration is a moment of majesty and mystery, and Peter doesn’t want it to end. “Let us make dwellings,” he says. Peter wants to stay on the mountaintop. He wants to prolong the experience.

So do we, sometimes. We try to freeze our mountaintop spiritual experiences and make them permanent. Instead of moving on to new achievements, new growth, we spin in a tight orbit around one certain event. A counselor friend of mine calls this “halting the parade.” Instead of being pioneers, always moving forward, always making new discoveries, we become settlers.

A mountaintop is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there. For Jesus to fulfill his mission he had to go back down the mountain and continue his ministry. So must you and I.

PRAYER

Take me to the mountaintop, O God, but don’t leave me there. Amen.