Over half a century ago Richard Wilbur wrote a poem called “Plain Song for Comadre” about a woman who cleans a church.
…it is seventeen years
That Bruna Sandoval has kept the church
Of San Ysidro, sweeping
and scrubbing the aisles, keeping
The candlesticks and the plaster faces bright
And seen no visions but the thing done right…
I think of Bruna often. I think of her slow march towards sanctity. I think of her because like her I’ve seen no visions.
Today we have the story of a vision, the story of the Transfiguration, an event so far removed from my ordinary experience it’s hard to wrap my head around it. It’s so magical. Our Gospels are full of Jesus doing miraculous things, but the Transfiguration seems straight out of science fiction. Glistening clothing. Shining face. Moses and Elijah. The voice of God in a cloud. And POOF. It’s gone.
I’m left with so many questions. I’m like Peter. I want things to be more concrete. I want to go ahead and nail this down. I traveled all over the New Testament for more details on the event: Matthew, Mark, and Luke all give accounts of the Transfiguration and their accounts are all pretty similar.
But Saint John, despite actually having witnessed it, doesn’t include it in his Gospel. (?!?!)
Instead John weaves the message of the Transfiguration, of the “Word made flesh,” throughout his entire Gospel. John gets it. Probably up there on that mountain he was already beginning to get it. Jesus didn’t suddenly become the Son of God on that mountain when He was chit-chatting with Moses and Elijah: Jesus was in the beginning with God.
We often look for God on the mountain top. We often look for God when we are beginning to despair. But the most important time to look for God is today.
Even though today you will probably not witness a transfiguration.
God will probably not ask you to sacrifice your firstborn today. You probably won’t see Christ’s face shine with divine light. You will probably not hear God’s voice in a cloud. But you will witness a sacrifice at an altar. You will glimpse a red light flickering near a tabernacle. You will sing a Sanctus with all the hosts of heaven.
Join in today’s transfiguration as ordinary as it might be.
Remember Bruna Sandoval, who though she’d seen no visions, kept on cleaning her church:
…For love and in all weathers
This is what she has done.
Sometimes the early sun
Shines as she flings the scrubwater out, with a crash
Of grimy rainbows
And the stained suds flash
Pause in one of your ordinary activities—while you’re brushing your teeth or washing dishes or sweeping a floor—and remember God’s beloved Son. Perhaps even listen for him.
Kate Rhodes is the wife of a lanky carpenter and mother to two littles. She used to teach English, but then she joined the ranks of SAHMs. You can find out more about her here.