Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters…” (Matthew 17:4)

I hope that this summer has been a time of renewal for you and those closest to you. When the students come back to class at the studio in August, it is always fun to hear about their summer highlights. Maybe it was a summer camp, a mission trip, a sports camp, a memorable milestone reached, a great family vacation or outing. These are the mountaintop experiences from the summer that help get us through the daily grind of the traditional school year.

This summer, several of our teen dancers had the opportunity to attend various summer dance intensives in the St. Louis area. These students had the privilege to spend around five hours a day, for a week or more focusing on just dance. The life lessons learned, relationships formed and improvement in technique can be huge and feel life altering! It’s amazing what progress can be made in a short time when it’s the main focus. These students literally spent the equivalent amount of studio time in just one week that normally takes place over the span of six months.  Just like all intensives, camps, and vacations-we have to come back to our daily lives. We have to come down from the mountain.

We might feel forever changed by our experience but the world around us has continued to go on. Nobody in history has had a greater mountaintop experience than Peter, James and John. “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light,”(Matthew 17:1-2). Can you imagine being invited to a front row seat to personally have the full glory of our Lord Jesus revealed to you by our heavenly Father? Sign me up!  Peter was so overcome by the experience he wanted to stay on the mountain…forever.  He even suggested building shelters for all of them so they could live there. (Matthew 17:4-5). But here’s the thing – they didn’t stay on the mountain. As a matter of fact, once they started their descent, everything leads straight to Jerusalem, and more importantly, to the cross. In addition to witnessing the transfiguration, the mountaintop was meant to strengthen the disciples for what lied ahead – the cross, their various betrayals of Jesus in the future and a reminder of His glory once He was resurrected and no longer physically present in their lives. The mountaintop was a means to an end – not the end of their story.

Like Peter, James and John, dancers who attend intensives or other dance camps may seek to “camp out” there for a while or may be disappointed as we all are when it is time to come back to our “regular” lives.  However, things can’t always be like they are on the mountaintop. If you lived on the mountain, eventually even the mountain would become mundane. A new class, method or teacher is always exciting and then you settle in and that becomes the new normal. It’s what you do with what you learn on the mountain that matters.

When we return home from an intense experience, the world can seem a little less sparkly or even a little dull. Everyday rhythms must be restored and there is work to be done. How can we take what God invested in us during our experience and apply it in our real, busy, and broken everyday lives?

World renowned ballet instructor John White says, “Practicing and rehearsing are acts of faith. One day, it seems, you dance perfectly. The next day, when you repeat the same steps, they fall apart. Why? It is because your understanding of how to control the steps is not yet secure. However, you must keep practicing, and then one day, a breakthrough. The steps will be performed flawlessly and effortlessly. These small achievements are what keep us going, They get us through the doldrums. They add yet another beacon of light along the obscure pathway to excellence. Be grateful for them.”

While Mr. White is talking about ballet, I believe his words have real life application for all of us, dancers and non-dancers alike. I believe that with God’s help and a little effort, a mountaintop experience can impact us and those around us for the rest of our lives. Ask God to help you think of at least one small step you can start taking today so that his work in you can continue. We must remember to use the mountaintop experience to strengthen our resolve and help us incorporate what we learned on the mountain in our everyday lives.