Walking on Water
By Melodious Monk
This past Sunday we celebrated the feast of the Transfiguration here at the Community of Jesus. Because our church is named after this feast, we always celebrate the feast on the Sunday closest to the traditional feast date of August 6th.
As the Gospel story was read aloud, I was drawn to St. Peter’s words first words to Jesus, “It is good to be here.” But the Transfiguration gospel also made me recall another story about Peter and Jesus. I’ve just been re-reading one my favorite books titled Walking on Water: reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle. In the final chapter titled “Feeding the Lake”, she writes:
“When Jesus called Peter to come to him across the water, Peter, for one brief, glorious moment, remembered how and strode with ease across the lake. This is how we are meant to be, and then we forget, and we sink. But if we cry out for help (as Peter did) we will be pulled out of the water; we won’t drown. And if we listen, we will hear, and if we look, we will see.”
That sounds so simple –all we need to do is step towards Jesus and we can partake in the glorious impossibility of walking on water. But the tiny word IF can become a stumbling block — IF we can listen, and IF we can hear. We all are capable of hearing the divine voice, but how quickly we forget to do this! We forget to cry out for help. Scripture tells us Peter was apparently scared both stepping onto the water and when he witnessed the dazzling white light on Mt Tabor as Moses and Elijah suddenly appeared with them. But even in being scared, Peter proclaimed,”It is good for us to be here!”
When I’m scared, that’s the last thing I think of. Usually I want to protect, run the other way, or fight. Many fears come up every day, in relationships, over unexpected events, through anxiety, or perhaps real physical dangers. I mostly want to avoid the things I’m afraid of, rather then proclaim that it may be good that I’m here. I don’t usually remember that perhaps this point of fear is good for me today. For if God brought this fearful point into my life today, instead of running, perhaps I can conquer this fear. Perhaps I, like Peter, can take just a step or two walking across new water. If I don’t listen, and if I don’t look, the alternative might be to miss out on some of the “brief glorious moments” that God most certainly designs uniquely for us.
L’Engle moves on to write: “The impossible still happens to us, often during the work, sometimes when we are so tired that inadvertently we let down all the barriers we have built up. We lose our adult skepticism and become once again children who can walk down their grandmother’s winding stairs without touching.” If we listen and if we hear…..we can be transfigured in ways we can’t even imagine or understand.