It’s amazing how often I meet people who say that the Trinity means nothing to them. They say that it’s too vague, too far away from them. Too complicated. They even say that it has no bearing on their life. It goes further. I have people say to me that their faith life is rooted in Jesus, which of course is marvelous, but then they go on to say that they have no connection with the Trinity. Now whilst I completely understand what they mean, it actually makes no sense.
I wonder how many times during our lives do we bless ourselves? When you think of it, it must be thousands of times. When we do, we ‘cross’ ourselves. We make the gestures that accompany the invocation, or the calling of Father, the Creator of the world, Jesus, his Son, who came among us as man, and then the Holy Spirit, to bless and protect us. It’s only when we think about this that we realize how significant the gesture, and even more so, the the significance of the words. We often think of blessing ourselves as the preamble, the warm up, if you like, before the actual prayer. In fact as we bless ourselves we make a most profound prayer. Perhaps it would be good to be more conscious of how profound, indeed how sacred it is, as we do it.
The more I pray and reflect on the Trinity, the more I understand it as both beautifully simple and mysteriously complex. Of course I accept completely that we will never understand the Trinity. We will never be able to define it. We will never be able to contain it. And yes I agree it is a mystery. However I believe it is so important that, even though we acknowledge it defies our understanding, this should not stop us wrestling with it. When we do actually wrestle with it, we of course wrestle with God. We wrestle with God, not to win, not to subject him to ourselves but rather to be changed in and through the wrestling. In the wrestling we are stretched and strained, and we heave and sigh and gradually we are changed by the experience. My favourite scriptural story about this is in Genesis 32, where we hear of the wrestling match between Jacob and God at Penuel.
So in accepting this most sublime mystery let’s engage in some wrestling. Holy wrestling. The three avenues or doorways that I use to explore the Trinity are: family, dance and community. Immediately we see both the simplicity and the complexity. I mean family is basic is’nt it? We all know it. The place where we are fed, housed, clothed, loved. Yet, as we grow up and begin to make our way in the world, it starts to dawn us that there is much more to family. Every family has multiple layers. In these days when we are preparing for World Meeting of Families we are rethinking, at least I hope we are, how we define family.
What is more important? Is there a married Mum and Dad and two children, a boy and a girl? Does this define family? Of course it may well do. However for others family is constituted differently, such as, a lone parent, children being raised by granny and indeed many other variations. Of course what is really important is that family is where we belong, where we feel safe, where we learn love, where we learn the beauty of compassion and forgiveness. Family is where we learn the important stuff that enables us to lead a happy and fruitful life in the love and service of others. Could it be that the Trinity is a family? Could it be that the Holy Family of Nazareth is modeled on the Trinity. Could it be that the Trinity is a model of love, self sacrificing, totally effacing love? Could it be that the Trinity is the perfect love. Could it be that in the Trinity, in it’s creativity, it’s giving, its unity and also its separateness that we could learn so much about how best to be human? Is it possible that we have in the Trinity we have the perfect teacher?
Is it not amazing that the Trinity invites us in to be part of it in a similar way that the Trinity wants to be part of us? Surely if we are to make some effort at engaging with the Risen and Ascended Jesus we must acknowledge the Trinity’s call to intimacy. Is not Pentecost the opening of a perfect channel between us and God. Does not the Trinity ceaselessly step closer to us and in the most profound way possible invite us to dance? Within the Trinity there is a ceaseless dance, a divine swirling, a holy stepping in and out. What would it be like for us to rejoice in the Trinity?