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Have been reading Rowan Williams' The Dwelling of the Light: Praying with Icons of Christ, which is very good - quietly thought-provoking. Thus far, I've only read the chapter on the icon of the Transfiguration, because although it's a short book, it's the kind one wishes to read slowly and meditate on.

Williams is talking about the icon of the Transfiguration (such as this Russian example)

As we look at Jesus transfigured, God revealed in a human life: "We must be prepared to be mentally and spiritually flung backwards, baffled in finding words for this, even fearful at the prospect of discipleship it puts before us. But it is the one vision that allows us to see everything in our experience as open to God - so that we need not fear that God is bound to disappear if we encounter this or that situation, that it is impossible to stay with God in times of failure, pain or self-doubt. That is not a glib reassurance but a sober statement of what's implied in recognizing the glory of God in Jesus.

"So as we look at this icon and let it shape our prayers and reflections, we can think first of that infinite hinterland that is the background, the inner dimension of Jesus' inner life. It doesn't stop being human in any sense: but it is a humanity which in every moment performs God's own life. When we see that, we see that every act or suffering of Jesus is part of the act of God, embraced freely in God's journey towards us out of his depths. We can also think of how the shape of our own lives is finally going to be in God's hands, not ours: like Moses and Elijah, we don't know yet (in St John's words) what we shall be. Out time, our stories about ourselves, are but the best we can do from where we stand and look; but God's perspective can do strange things with history, and we are not the best judges of our own lives, what really matters to God, what shows God to the world. But we are given a glimpse of what God can do in this rare moment of direct vision, when the 'door of perception' is opened by and in Jesus, and the end of the world is there fleetingly before us. And finally, we can let ourselves contemplate the fact that the divine freedom shown us in this vision tells us both that there is no escape from the world in which we have been placed as creatures and that there is nowhere from which God can finally be exiled."


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