That’s his only idea. He’s going to camp out. He wants to build tents. Elijah who went up to Heaven in a chariot pulled by angels and Moses who died barely glimpsing the Promised Land, will come down from wherever they are, and live with us in tents right here on the mountain, and Jesus will stay here in His Glory-Cloud forever, and we will go camping in the mountains, together with the Law, the Prophets and the Son of God.
I think that’s how most of us picture Heaven– more of the same, but with Christ there. Camping in the mountains, but with Moses and Elijah. Earth, with bright lights. What really lies in the Glory-Cloud I can’t say. But if you camped out on a mountain for the rest of your life to see it, you wouldn’t have wasted your time.
“This is My Beloved Son,” says God the Father, “In Whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him.” That’s the only message that was given at the time: Christ is the Son of God. Listen. So often, when I come to prayer, I want answers beyond that. I want to know what I’m going to eat tomorrow and how we’ll pay the rent; I want to know how we’ll fix our debt, and if the sickness will clear up in time to finish school. I want to know where I’ll be next year, or the year after that. Most often, the only answer I get is the message of the Transfiguration. This is My Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him. And I listen in silence, and I know that Christ is there, with the Glory-Cloud. Sometimes I think I feel it there, warmth and life and bright light thick enough to swim in, but usually I don’t.
The chosen apostles saw it. It blinded them. It’s too much to see with mortal eyes, the light that makes you cough up everything you’ve ever known. I think we really would die if it lasted.
And then it was gone, and only Christ was there visible, looking like an ordinary man. Of course, the Glory Cloud is still there. There has never not been a Christ and a Glory Cloud. And in the Glory Cloud is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.
Christ warns them not to tell anyone about this, until He rises from the dead. They must not have known what He meant– and that was mercy. Who could stand to know, to understand what was coming, until it was over and done? Who could stand to be there in Gethsemane, lying down as they were here, asleep this time, knowing what was to happen? The Son of God knew, and the suffering was nearly more than He could bear.
Prophecy is veiled, for a reason. The Law is strange to us, for a reason. The Glory Cloud is only visible now and then in small glimpses on this earth, for a reason. We couldn’t live if we saw clearly for too long. We have seen the true Light; God the Lord has revealed Himself to us. Then we go back down the mountain, where all is in shadow, and we complete our work.
Icons reveal what’s always present: pure white light represented in color so that we can see it. Reality made visible through the stilted lack of realism. Unspeakable truths told through unspoken language. The white circle is the Glory-Cloud that makes us cough up the things of the earth, and the Glory-Cloud is always there.