What if the Transfiguration Story was a description of something that happened in the disciple Peter’s “inner world” rather than in the “external world” around him? Would it then be any less meaningful or useful to us as readers of Mark’s Gospel, and seekers after truth about Jesus?
The Christian scriptures, including the Hebrew Scriptures we inherited from the Jewish people (what we call the Old Testament) and the writings of the early church that we call the New Testament, contain many stories of God speaking to people through dreams, and visions, and other powerful experiences.
Did Moses actually see a “burning bush” on the day that he heard God’s call, or did something about the appearance of the bush awaken something within him, a desire to seek after God, and live in service to God’s people?
Did Jesus actually see the heavens open up, and the Spirit descend upon him like a dove, and hear God’s voice name him as a beloved son? Or was the story of his baptism a way to describe a moment in which he realized something important about his identity and purpose?
I wonder if the tendency of many Christians to insist on the literal accuracy of Biblical stories is linked to our inability to take ourselves seriously as spiritual beings, who are actually created to be connected, on the spiritual level, with God.
The reading I am doing in the area of “Spiritual Direction” suggests to me that my own awareness of God’s presence and activity in my own “inner world” has been limited by my own willingness to look deeper within myself. When I do look within, I have to discern carefully. It is not always easily, and it is often helpful to have wise counsel- but it is possible, I believe, to “hear” God’s voice, and to “see” what God has in store.