I’ve done it too many times to count as a mom. I get stuck in moments with my kids or family that are so sweet I beg the Lord to let me stay there forever.
When my first was born I remember relishing every single second right after birth. It was so unearthly sweet – nothing like I had ever experienced. It wasn’t the birth (that was actually not my ideal birth), it wasn’t the location (it was just an ordinary hospital), but the moment of meeting my first son was so shockingly beautiful. Nothing in life had prepared me for it and I just wanted to stay in that moment forever.
It happens every now and then when I’m tucking the kids in or laughing as a family. I just get this complex feeling of unspeakable joy and then sorrow of not being able to grasp it fully all at once – and it just makes me want to stay right there forever and take it in without ever having to say goodbye.
I think a lot of good-hearted older mothers remember this contradiction of feelings when they grab young mothers’ arms and say “enjoy every minute – it goes by fast.” I sometimes wonder if they remember these moments vividly and ache that they can’t get them back – that they never figured out how to stay in it forever.
The Transfiguration helps me make sense of this mess of emotion.
The three Apostles were overtaken by an unearthly experience that left them so shaken to the core with awe and beauty that all they could do was wish it was forever. They experienced the Lord in His glory – shining and powerful and beautiful. And all they could do was say it was good and they should build some tents. Huh?
Well, what do people do when they are overcome with something shockingly beautiful and good and filled with emotion? They stutter, they trip on words, they say silly things that don’t quite make sense. People falling in love do the same thing. After a taste of something heavenly, we lose words. We just want it to last forever because it is that good.
And so I realized St. Peter and I have a lot in common. I feel like in these moments where I’m so moved by the deep goodness of motherhood and my heart is cracking at the thought of the moment slipping away from me, I think to myself, he gets it. St. Peter felt it. And he tried. He tried to express to Jesus the goodness of what he felt. He tried to make it last by building tents for Moses and Elijah and everyone. But he couldn’t make it happen. He couldn’t make it last forever because it wasn’t about that moment. It was all about what would come after.
It was about preparing for suffering, preparing to stay faithful in extreme trials, preparing to follow the Cross no matter where it took him. The experience of the Transfiguration was a preface to the glory to come. But before the glory, a preparation of the heart for pain.
This is how I approach these moments now. When I feel like my heart will explode at how much love I have for these little ones and simultaneously rip in two when I realize they will grow up and need me less and less every year that passes, I look at the Transfiguration. I take in all of these moments and hold them in my heart and trust that no matter what is to come, glory has the final say and the sweetness of these moments will help get me there.
The Transfiguration has taught me to be okay with walking down the mountain and into God’s plan for the rest of my motherhood – because as good as these moments are, there is still more to come.