2 Corinthians 13:11-13
And, since I was Roman Catholic most of my life, the second part automatically plays in my head. “And with your Spirit!” Today is the feast of the Holy Trinity, a good time to ponder what the Trinity is about and what it means for our everyday faith journeys. It seems to be a tricky aspect of our Christian faith to explain. But, do we even need to figure it out? What can the Trinity teach us? We are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I love the Trinity shared as the Creator, the Christ and the Holy Spirit, which I first noticed in the Lutheran Church. But, in our work-a-day lives, how does the Trinity fit in? Or does it?
I spent a good deal of time helping out in youth ministry while my kids were growing up and we had a priest once who described the Trinity using a banana. No, hear me out—this is good! He peeled the banana and put his finger right down into the center of the banana, separating the fruit into the three identical pieces that make up the whole banana. Three in one! While the kids liked the visual, I can see one major flaw in the demonstration of the Trinity as a banana. The banana is static. It isn’t moving. It’s just there.
The same is true with the image of the Trinity as a shamrock, which I remember from my elementary school days. The three leaves of the shamrock making up the one flower. Three in one. A nice and an easy visual, but again, very static and just sort of there–not going anywhere.
In contrast, I’ve grown to see the Trinity as dynamic, moving, flowing, more like a water wheel that pours water into the next container, which pours into the next container and so on. The Trinity to me is an over-flowing force of love from person to person within the Trinity, and then even expanding out to us. The Creator loves with such power and overflowing that the Christ is filled to over-flowing and then over-fills the Holy Spirit, which pours out to us. And then we love God back, shown by how we love each other and the whole process starts again. Over-flowing love from one to another, on and on.
Richard Rohr, OFM has provided my favorite image of the Trinity in his book “The Divine Dance” (2016). In this book, he and his co-author Mike Morrell, describe the Trinity as community, friendship and even a dance. There is nothing static about a dance! It requires reciprocal movement, flowing, bending, swaying, moving together, blending into each other. It requires listening to each other, being in tune with the others’ feelings and emotions. All of these reciprocal intuitions require a give and take, an out-pouring and an in-gathering. This more dynamic image of the Trinity can have more impact in our lives, which also require a good deal of give and take, out and in, one step forward, two steps back…sometimes in high heels.
Our lives can be a whirlwind of movement. From the time we are born, we are constantly moving outward…first, we crawl on all fours, then we figure out we can really go places if we stand up on our two feet and set out—wobbly at first. We are constantly interacting with each other, with family first, then friendships, later into community. It’s a delicate dance finding our “others” and creating new communities as we grow. Our lives can be a water-wheel of love, filling and re-filling, over and over again. As we embrace serving and helping others, we can imagine the over-flowing of God’s love into us and then we can pass the love onto others. A dynamic dance of love.
I like the idea of a Trinity that seems more expansive, too. Growing outward as our universe is growing outward. There is no end to the expanse of the universe, it’s still bursting forth. The immensity of the expanding universe seems to fit with the immensity of God’s love, bursting forth into the Christ, then bursting into the Spirit. And then bursting into us.
As lovely as those images are, it’s really comforting to me to know that we don’t have to figure it all out either. One of the main things we learned about the Trinity as kids is that it is a mystery. It cannot be contained or explained. It’s one of those things that we don’t have to figure out but can just be in awe of it. And, thinking of it as a divine dance seems a bit more awesome than thinking of it as a shamrock or a banana.
Thank you for your mystery and your exciting dance of love with us. Help us to remember that we are always included in the dance; we are always invited to share in your vast love. Help us to drink in that love and then pass it on to others, so all are part of the dance. Amen.