I recently heard a religious sister share some advice she once gained from her spiritual director. Her director told her, “In the course of our spiritual lives, our lives of discipleship, God both reveals Himself and re-veils Himself.” In other words, sometimes God makes Himself known and present to us in very palpable and powerful ways and then there are times (maybe even periods of our lives) when God steps back, when God re-veils Himself. Both movements are part of the spiritual life and both are part of the same journey. The discipline of the Christian life is to accept and be comfortable in both. When God reveals we should accept it and receive it. We should avoid the common temptation of running away because the light is too pervasive and too bright. Also, when God re-veils Himself we should accept this. We should not seek to run back to the mountaintop of transfiguration because it will not be the same. We should accept the yearning of the re-veiling because this expands our hearts – it increases our capacity to love.
As I reflected on this spiritual director’s insight and connected it to the story of the Transfiguration as found in Matthew’s Gospel I was brought to another awareness. It is very simple and has been present right in front of me in Matthew’s account a hundred times over. The insight is this: Jesus is just as present to his disciples as they depart from the mountain as he is when he is transfigured on the mountain. Jesus is not transfigured only to then tell his disciples to leave on their own while he remains on the mountaintop. No, Jesus goes down with them. “As they were coming down the mountain…” writes Matthew.
Whether it is a peak moment of transfiguration or whether it is a time of veiling, Christ is present. The goal is to recognize him, to be with him and to receive what he has to offer at that moment – both the moments of revealing and re-veiling.