Verbal Desert

Aug 21, 2011

I’ve been in a verbal desert this summer. Besides a few blog posts, my writing has been scant.

I’ve seen some exceptional beauty during the past few months. In particular, the amazing sky from the east to the west coasts awes me. I want to write eloquent descriptions of it and hold these scenes in my memory forever. But words are inadequate to describe what my eyes see. My parched summer vocabulary cannot capture these fleeting moments of beauty.

In the story of the Transfiguration In Luke’s Gospel, the disciples try to capture a moment of kingdom beauty:

I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters–one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.) (Luke 9: 27-33 NIV)

Peter’s offer to build three shelters for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus seems like an attempt to stop time, to hold this ephemeral moment of beauty forever. Unlike me, Peter doesn’t reach for his notepad and fumble for words to describe his experience on paper. He wants to get out his Tinkertoys and make it 3-D.

I’ve surrendered myself to a visual, rather than verbal summer. I’m looking with my eyes and trying to remember. A digital camera helps. Although the camera cannot capture the smells, the sounds, or the temperature, it’s my attempt to stop time and immortalize a moment. If cameras had been around 2000 years ago, I bet Peter would have been the first of the disciples to fumble for his and start snapping pictures.

Photos by Sybil MacBeth: Skies from Michigan, Maryland, and New Mexico