Taking selfies is such a fun thing to do. But why do we do it?
With iPhone in hand, we can release our inner toddler. “Look at me! Look at me!” Why else would we want to interject ourselves into a panoramic sunset or a chance meeting with a celebrity?
If Peter had the technology, he would have taken a selfie. What could have been better than a picture of his smiling face with Jesus, Moses, and Elijah? But, given his cultural limitations, he could only blurt out, “Let’s build some shrines!” That way he would have a hand in what he witnessed.
The problem with selfies, or shrines, is that by interjecting ourselves into an experience, we miss the full impact of what’s happening. What was the content of the conversation between Jesus and the Jewish icons? We don’t know because Peter was busy figuring out how many shrines to build.
Transcendent, transfiguring moments are woven into life. If we weren’t so busy with our egos, our concerns, would we see more of them? Would we experience their fullness if we weren’t preoccupied with ourselves?
Perhaps God speaks most clearly when we get lost on the mountaintop, swept up in what’s happening, without self-regard. We won’t have anything to post on Facebook. The moment will be purely in memory. That’s the best place for it to be stored. It’s how the Spirit continues talking.
As it was, on the Transfiguration mountain, God sounds a bit fumed. Paraphrasing the divine voice, “Hey, it’s about my Son, not you. LISTEN to him!”
Peter and the others snapped out of their selfie-stupor, but by then it was too late. The scene returned to normal.
How long would the experience have lasted, what would the disciple have heard, had he not been concerned with a selfie?