I spent my early childhood on the high altiplano of Bolivia, where we took for granted spectacular views of mountains and lakes. I hiked the hills, explored caves and played among the Incan ruins. My siblings and I would accompany my parents by boat to villages and towns scattered around Lake Titicaca. Late-afternoon storms would come up quickly, churning the water, flashing sheet lightning and sometimes producing golf ball–size hail.

When I think about the transfiguration, I see those mountains again in all of their grandeur. I understand why earlier civilizations believed that mountains are close to the heavens; they have always symbolized a place where one may meet the holy.

But in the 21st century, many of us don't live in the mountains or even outside of a city. What are we to think when we're invited into a story about a mountain shrouded in clouds? After all, this is no ordinary hike, and these are no ordinary clouds—they indicate the most Holy Presence.