Living a Life Transfigured

Today, I received a call from a dear priest and spiritual father of mine who was recently admitted to the hospital for some serious declining health issues. I had called him and left a voicemail yesterday to let him know we were praying for him.

I was surprised to hear how well he sounded and I asked how he was doing. He said he was breathing on his own better but was still in the ICU – which surprised me even more because he was returning my call from his hospital bed. He asked how I was doing and then shared with me an experience he had while unconscious.

It was a very encouraging word from God for him (which also encouraged me to the point of tears) and in that moment I realized that he was ministering to me, even though he was the one who was sick in the ICU.

In the second half of the year, as the days begin to get shorter and darker, it’s easy to see that summer won’t last forever. During this time of year, I have helped bury several of my relatives, friends and parishioners—maybe you have too.

In the Orthodox Church, on August 6 we celebrate the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain—a revelation of His divinity shown to strengthen His Apostles before His own death; and for the first two weeks of August, we also remember the death of the Mother of God. All of these together make it very natural to reconsider our own death at this time.

If you were to meet the priest I mentioned above, he would not shy away from telling you his story, and about how he spent time in prison for his wayward life as a younger man. He often talks now about God’s mercy, and how he still has much to repent over before he dies.

But the number of people he has pastored and the names he remembers is mind-boggling. When meeting him you would not imagine he had been to prison. His manner of prayerful living resembles that of a saint. His life has gone through a radical transfiguration of its own by the grace of God, and Christ is constantly revealing Himself to others through this priest.

As my call with this priest ended, I recognized that he had done more than just encourage me, he had reopened my heart and reminded me of God’s love with just a few words. Though at one point his life was a wreck, he has painstakingly repented and sought Christ day after day, year after year. Now his life has now been transfigured into a meeting place of God.

May God grant us all a similar transfiguration as we near the end of this life and approach the next!