Taking a Hike

August 6th is a day very near and dear to my heart. When I was a kid, I knew it was the day that my Grandpa Sixto would call and sing happy birthday to himself over the phone. After his slightly off key self serenade, he would laugh and exclaim, “I love you my Sweet Pea!”

Grandpa has been dead for more than twenty years, but lessons learned from him endure; possibly due to the fact that his instruction came more from actions and less from words. A case in point was his daily mass attendance.

As a youngster, I remember laying groggily on the couch at Casa Zubiate watching early morning cartoons with my cousins. Grandpa would walk through the living room dressed in his trademark khakis and white shirt as the sun peaked through the window. He returned about an hour later, and joined us at breakfast, insisting that we said, “Thank you God,” upon finishing the meal.

When they came to visit us in Arkansas, this behavior was replicated, in spite of the fact that the nearest Catholic Church was almost twenty miles away.

Actually, it really never dawned on me what he was doing until I became an adult, years after he had passed. And then, upon realization, my question was, “Why?”

I’m not going to get religious or philosophical. Grandpa never did.

What I will say is that attending daily mass has made the stories in the Bible more real. Frequently, we celebrate the stories;. Like Christmas and Easter, the whole day and the mass is dedicated to that story.

August 6th is a case in point.

Here’s why.

It all started a little over two thousand years ago when a guy asked his three buddies to go on a hike. Since they really liked him, and because they had nothing else better to do they said, “Sure, why not?”

And then this happened:

He took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.  As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.  Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 

After reading, really reading this passage for the first time, I had to ask myself, “What possible miracle awaits one embarking down a lowly trail?” Can casual acquiescence – a simple yes – lead to a transformative experience?

Whether believer or not, I would dare say most who have wandered through nature would wholeheartedly answer “Yes” to this question. Thanks, Grandpa, and Happy Feast of the Transfiguration!


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