Mysterious Mountain Experience in the Midst of the Ordinary

As a lover of John’s gospel, I have always been intrigued why John chooses to omit the story of the transfiguration which is present in the synoptic tradition. It is a spectacular and mysterious encounter in which Jesus’ changed appearance brings fear and awe to his closest disciples who struggle to comprehend this divine moment.

Mountain-top experiences of God are rare for most people who practice spirituality and prayer, yet they can happen at the most unexpected times. Therese of Lisieux, who has accompanied me in my spiritual search, lived an intense life of prayer and sacrifice, yet spent most of her life in spiritual doubt and darkness. She knew that she was not destined for many mountain-top experiences, yet she clung on to her love and faith in Jesus as the beloved Son of God.

Therese believed in a God who was real, manifested in the person on Jesus, who walked with her during the ordinary moments of her life and who accompanied her in her suffering. When reading The Last Conversations which detail the last months of Therese’s life, I was struck by the extent of her physical and spiritual suffering; it was the book which made me understand that she was no saccharine saint, she was a spiritual warrior.

The moment of her death, which involved an extended ecstasy experience, reminded me of the story of the transfiguration – at that moment of death she glimpsed the glory of the God she had loved all of her life..

Like the disciples, when she looked up, she saw only Jesus.

In her words (and one of my favorite Therese quotes)….”There is only Jesus alone who is….all else is not.”

Thanks for reading!


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