It had been a mountaintop experience, Sue’s first retreat since high school. Since then she had started working in a downtown bank, met and married Jim, the love of her life, and had three beautiful children. She had been a den mother and a Brownie leader. She had helped Jim set up his own business. She had even been promoted to vice president at the bank where she worked. But in the middle of all the activity she had never been able to find time to go away by herself until last week. And it had been wonderful. She almost wished she could stay.
But now she was back home again. There were dirty dishes in the dishwasher and dirty towels in the tub, and a pizza box on the counter gave silent witness to the kind of meals her family had eaten while she was away. The kids were full of stories of baseball games and birthday parties and her husband was so happy to see her that, after a quick kiss hello, he promptly fell asleep on the couch. It had been a mountaintop experience, but now she was home. And there was no way she could ever explain to anyone what had happened to her.
Peter, James and John had a similar experience. They, too, had been to the mountaintop; and they, too, had wished they could stay. “Let us make three tents …” Peter, the practical one, wanted to build something solid to mark the occasion. But Jesus knew better. Jesus knew that there was still work to be done in Jerusalem. And so the disciples came back down from the mountain, and “… they kept the matter to themselves.”
Sue quickly realized that, like Peter, James and John, she was never meant to stay on the mountaintop. Soon she was caught up again in the world of baseball games and birthday parties, home and job. She had encountered God on the mountaintop, but that wasn’t where God lived. And that wasn’t where she lived, either. God had called her back down from the mountain. And there was still much work to be done.
Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister, retreat leader, spiritual director and published writer and poet.