and his clothes became whiter than any launderer in the whole world could bleach them.
clothes more brilliant
than an emperor’s tailor’s vision
claim an ultimacy unmatched
except by attending full well
to an everyday Dickies uniform
in muted blues and greens
sky and earth do their work
mysterious bit by bit
backdrop every scene
supporting other brilliances
such division of labor
threatens every partnership
a flash-in-the-pan nova
eclipsing dark matter’s steadiness
graves need light and light graves
Commentators down the generations have noted white clothing both here on a mountain top and in a tomb (16:5). It is not only almost enough to lead one to dress in white, even after Labor Day, it can be a retrojection of a Resurrection into this half-way moment of Transfiguration.
Every culture has its way of expressing a persons location within it through dress or accessories. In Jesus’ day, royal purple would be one mark of importance. To wear clothes whiter than any fuller (bleacher) could get clothes, even should a Tetrarch command, is to continue bringing a different understanding of power present for all, no matter their status, who recognize their belovedness.
While white and black are not spectral colors, they do have a relationship with the colors: white includes all other colors; black is an absence of colors.
Swanson129 also looks at this passage liturgically. Transfiguration Sunday, just before Ash Wednesday, is a pivotal half-way point between Christmas and Easter. White turns to purple or blue. There is a needed juxtaposition between Transfiguration (white) and Good Friday (black).
Swanson reflects on an alien from Tralfamador in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five who is looking for where Christianity went wrong. He finds it in Pilate crucifying one considered to be a “nobody” whom Transfiguration/Easter declare to be a “somebody”. This alien argues that any Son of Adam (a regular nobody) is a beloved somebody and Transfiguration essentially says—There is no such thing as a “nobody”; those privileged and powerful in a culture are not to crucify, demean, dismiss, or disempower any such so labeled.