Today the Russian Orthodox Church (and several other Orthodox churches that still follow the Julian calendar) celebrates the feast of the Transfiguration. This is a translation of a scriptural meditation about that event from the Russian book, “Day by Day”:
Scripture: “Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And He was transfigured before them” (Mark 9, 2)
“The Lord took with Him to Mt. Tabor those disciples whom He deemed worthy of seeing His glory: Peter, ardent in faith and impetuous in action, James, the future martyr, humble in obedience, and John, who through his love earned the love of the Savior more than the others.
"He ‘led them up a high mountain apart’; How often the Lord sought the silence of solitude! He constantly leaves the crowd and leads his disciples away, so that they may rest and collect themselves: ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while’, he would tell them (Mark 6,31).
"Worldly people seek entertainment in noisy pleasures. God’s people, shunning crowds, go deep into their thoughts, and concentrate on ‘the only thing needful’.
"In Luke’s gospel it says that He ‘went up the mountain to pray’ (Luke 6, 12). Throughout His earthly life the Savior apparently needed to pray. He retired to pray in order to be in uninterrupted communion with the Father, wherein He found strength and consolation. In beginning His mission on earth, He prays; at night, He prays; in Gethsemane, preparing to suffer and die, He prays; on the cross, in His agony preceding death, until the final moments of His life, He does not cease praying, and constantly urges His disciple to pray: ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation’ (Mark 14, 38).
"The mountain onto which He leads His disciples represents the difficult, thorny path that we must travel in order to rise to the heights of true prayer. The power of prayer is a great mystery. However, in its simplicity it is accessible to the pure soul of a child. It would seem that it is easy to pray – for the spirit of prayer is sometimes manifest in a single sigh, in a single glance, but it is a great feat, a supernatural feat – it is the work of God in the human soul.
"Only Christ can perform this wonderful act in our heart. He alone will lead us, like His disciples, along the narrow, steep, rocky path leading up to the high mountain. He will support us and carry us on His arms, removing all obstacles. Following Him, we will reach the summit and receive the reward waiting for the disciples on Mt. Tabor: there, far from the noise and commotion of the world, they heard only the voice of the Savior – they saw in Him the Son of God, they were witnesses to His everlasting glory. And likewise for us, when we ascend in spirit to the Lord, leaving behind all the temptations and enticements of the world, He will let us taste the inexpressible bliss of closeness to God which will give us strength in our daily struggles, firmness in trials, and consolation in sorrow.”
Here is what Lewis writes in Letters to Malcolm (Letter III) about finding a place to pray:
"I entirely agree with you that no one in his senses, if he has any power of ordering his own day, would reserve his chief prayers for bedtime – obviously the worst possible hour for any action which needs concentration. The trouble is that thousands of unfortunate people can hardly find any other. Even for us, who are the lucky ones, it is not always easy. My own plan, when hard pressed, is to seize any time, and place, however unsuitable, in preference to the last waking moment. On a day of traveling – with, perhaps, some ghastly meeting at the end of it – I’d rather pray sitting in a crowded train then put it off till midnight when one reaches a hotel bedroom with aching head and dry throat and one’s mind partly in a stupor and partly in a whirl. On other, and slightly less crowded, days a bench in a park, or a back street where one can pace up and down, will do.
A man to whom I was explaining this said, “But why don’t you turn into a church?” Partly because, for nine months of the year, it will be freezingly cold, but also because I have had bad luck with churches, no sooner do I enter one and compose my mind than one or other of two things happens . Either someone starts practicing the organ. Or else with resolute tread, there appears from nowhere a pius woman in elastic side boots, carrying a mop, bucket, and a dustpan, and begins beating hassocks and rolling up carpets and doing things to flower vases. Of course (blessings on her) “work is prayer” and her enhanced oratio is probably worth 10 times my spoken one. But it doesn’t help mine to become worth more."
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)