This past Christmas season I developed a deep affinity for combining sea salt and dark chocolate. It’s a glorious combination. The particular coalescence of bitter/sweet and salty is (in my opinion) evidence that God loves us and wants us to be happy. The deep richness of chocolate is punctuated by bright bursts of salty goodness – the two ingredients oppose, dance and highlight one another on the pallet in both contrast and harmony (suddenly I feel like I’m describing a ballet – I’m not, we’re strictly talking chocolate and salt). The stark contrast of ingredients yields a flavor greater than the sum of its parts…it’s incredible, and the end result is a downright beautiful taste-bud experience.
Of course, life is similar to this and based on the readings of the weekend, we see that a life of faith is particularly oriented to highs, lows, and the promise of an eternal life that is far greater than the sum of our experiences on earth. In our Gospel, Saints Peter and Paul get a first-hand glimpse of the glory of heaven, but are quickly sent back to work in the distinctly less glorious, less radiant “real-world”. But the cool thing is that they know what is coming if they make it to heaven!
Life isn’t easy. It’s a grind. It’s hard. Oftentimes life hurts, love hurts, work hurts, faith hurts. But simultaneously the life we are given is sprinkled with glorious moments that are to be celebrated. Moments when life is created, love surrounds us, work brings us accomplishment and purpose, faith fills us with joy, peace, and the comfort that we are loved endlessly by a God who not only breathed light into the vast darkness of nothing to create us, but also stepped down from heaven to live among us as a humble man.
In the readings, we see Abraham called to lead a broken nation to be a light to the world. In Psalm 33, we hear pleas for mercy from a people who have put their trust in a merciful God. In 2nd Timothy we read that life is tough, but our strength to endure comes from a God who destroyed death and brought light to the world through the Gospel. The messages from these readings tell us that hardship and reward are part of the design of life and that God is with us every step of the way. The Gospel reading of the Transfiguration gives us a peak at the true glory of heaven. Perhaps this is God’s way of letting us know that even though life has highs and lows, He is with us. If we trust and stay faithful, our journey brings us to a reality that is far more beautiful and glorious than we can imagine. Heaven is infinitely more wonderful than any combination of salt and chocolate, and if that’s true then I can’t wait to get there! (Apologies to anyone who gave up chocolate or candy in general for Lent – maybe you should have chosen something else to give up!)
This Lent, be salt, be light, be rich luxurious dark chocolate if that’s what God is calling you to be. But in the end, let’s all strive to radiate the goodness of a life that is full – full of joy and sorrow, high and low, shadow and light, and in all these things, full of the love and presence of God.