The Trance-figuration 

It was several days later, I think it was eight,
Though it could have been six, maybe seven;
We followed him into the mountains to pray,
(They say that it’s closer to heaven)

Jesus and John and Peter and me…
I think – it’s a long time ago.
It felt good to be asked, while the rest of the gang
Hung around in the valley below.

I’ve never been good at persisting in prayer,
I lack what they call staying power.
I can kneel for a while, then my knees give me gyp;
My record’s about half an hour.

Jesus though, he could keep praying for hours
While the rest of us slid to the ground,
And what could we offer by way of support?
A rhythmical snoring sound.

It may have been light from the setting sun,
But when Peter awoke, what he claims
Is that Jesus’s robe was all dazzling bright,
Like as if it had burst into flames.

And there by his side, two men had appeared,
They were ancient and holy and pious,
And Peter maintains, though I can’t tell you why,
One was Moses, the other Elias!

Now people have asked me why he was so sure
Concerning Elias and Moses.
How could he tell that that’s who they were?
His answer: tele-g-nosis!

(Tele-g-nosis, I’ve been informed
By people I hold in esteem,
Is when you know something without being told,
As sometimes occurs in a dream.)

I must have been sleeping more soundly than him –
I was whacked, it had been a long day,
And I’d vouch for, on average, fifty per cent
Of the things I have heard Peter say.

Of course we’d no portraits at all in those days
The patriarchs weren’t into posing,
But Peter was certain that that’s who they were
And John and myself were still dozing.

There was mention of Jesus’s “Exodus”,
Which with Moses had been an obsession,
And Elias had left in a wagon of fire
Which certainly made an impression.

Then Peter arose, still groggy with sleep,
And declared he’d come up with a plan
To fashion three tents on the spot where we were,
(He was always a practical man).

Then down comes this cloud, and we’re hidden from view
And the light that had shone becomes dim,
And a voice from the cloud thunders, “This is my son.
Keep quiet and listen to him!”

It’s fitting that God should speak out of a cloud
Like he did in the wilderness years,
And then we see nothing, but Jesus alone
As the cloud and the light disappears.

It was Peter who mostly repeated the tale
And embellished it much in the telling,
Though Jesus had said, “Keep it quiet for now,”
Peter was always rebelling.

The events that unfolded up there on the mount
Were like something you’d see in a dream,
But then, we were tired and fuddled with sleep
And sometimes things aren’t as they seem.

Elias and Moses, sent from on high?
To have a discussion with Jesus?
Or was he just having a mountain-top chat
With some hill-walking elderly geezers?

And was it God’s voice that spoke from the cloud
Or was it a rumble of thunder?
The liminal space between waking and sleep
Is often a landscape of wonder.

Well, one thing’s for certain, before very long
We suffered a terrible loss,
And the Exodus thing really did come to pass
When Jesus got nailed to that cross.

And just like Elias flew up from the earth,
I believe that he rose from the dead,
So rather than follow the grand schemes of men
I listen to Jesus instead.

Dream or reality, who can be sure?
But it makes an enlightening story,
And hopefully, one day the dopiest dopes
Shall witness unspeakable glory.

Matthew 17:1-13