Years ago when I got my first bird feeder, I thought it would make me happy. But it had the opposite effect. Whenever I looked at it, I was mostly angry.
I thought my feeder would attract red birds, robins, blue jays, goldfinches, woodpeckers, bluebirds, and other colorful, flashy songbirds. And some of those birds that I wanted to see did come. But mostly the feeder attracted not the pretty, rare birds, but the common, dull ones: Sparrows, crows, and starlings.
What were they doing at my feeder? I wanted rare, colorful, attractive songbirds. But what I mostly got were birds that were ordinary, dull, and unattractive.
One day my elderly, next door neighbor said how much she enjoyed watching my feeder. But I told her how disappointed I felt about it. In response she said this, “God loves them all. You should, too.” I was speechless. She was right.
I remember those wise words when my old, mistaken opinion arises not when I think about birds, but when I think about my days.
I want my life to be filled with attractive days filled only with sunshine, happiness, and success – and those days do come. Sometimes. But my life is mostly common days filled with ordinary, unremarkable things like struggle, uncertainty, and thankless tasks like cleaning the toilet and taking out the trash.
Given that, when I come to the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration, I mostly read it with a sense of envy: What doesn’t my walk with the Lord have more mountaintop moments like this? This moment described in Scripture is like seeing a bald eagle. My moments mostly involve seeing another, boring old sparrow.
But what if my neighbor was not only right about God loving every bird, but also about God loving every moment? About God being in every moment? And about God loving us and being present to us in every, common moment of our lives? If that is so, then God is here, right now – hiding in plain sight.
After all, that was the point of the Transfiguration: The disciples finally got it: That Jesus was who he said he was. If that is the case, then that realization and joy can be ours as well.
The Catholic spiritual writer Richard Rohr sums it up this way: If Jesus is the face of God, then we can trust that God is good and we are loved and that all shall be well. You don’t have to trudge up a mountain to find that rarified truth. That truth is right here – permeating all our “common” moments; empowering us in all our struggles; even accompanying us in moments that seem unremarkable, tedious and even terrible.
After all, isn’t that the ultimate truth of the cross? That no place is too terrible; no moment is too dark; and no fate is so doomed that Christ will not enter into it out of solidarity with us. Christ is with us in it all. And Christ shall bring us through it all. That is the truth of Easter and the promise of the Resurrection.
If we keep faith in that truth as we walk with Christ through the common moments of our lives, maybe they won’t seem so ordinary or overwhelming – or under-whelming! Maybe if we can keep sight of that in the valleys of our lives, then we won’t envy or need anything “higher,” “better,” or more “glorious.” Maybe we will realize that in the mixture of success and failure, joy and pain that comes to all of us that Christ is with us in it all – and that is all we need.
Maybe if we just hold onto that, we would begin to see the miraculous in the everyday, the extraordinary within the ordinary, and the glory of the mountaintop moment in our common, valley floor days. Maybe then we wouldn’t crave the special quite so much and we could begin to savor and enjoy the grace God gives us all the time. Maybe then, like Peter, James, and John, we would only see Jesus – and that grace would be more than enough.