June 11, 2017 is Trinity Sunday. I have prepared a special June article based on the Trinity.
Before beginning I want to state that the concept of the Trinity is curious and mystifying. Honestly I don’t believe we need to fully comprehend it in order for it to positively influence us. Despite leaving room for faith and respect for obscurity, I present these thoughts.
Most Christians are taught that the Trinity is “God in three persons,” which “co-exist” and are “equal.” Three parts of a single essence, being as one.
Hmmm…. Yup, that’s about what I was taught. And when growing up, I’d react with an, “OK,” then perhaps ponder a moment, and move on. I accepted the concept as something I simply needed to “believe.” Well, let’s see if we can find just a bit more clarity, starting with this fantastic metaphor.
I recently read a book as part of my spiritual certification program called, The Way to Spiritual Direction, written by Francis Kelly Nemeck and Marie Theresa Coombs Hermit. These authors relay an analogy, apparently from St. Augustine, whose interpretation of the trinity is the best I have come across. I was able to relate to and applaud this idea which I am pleased to share with you.
The Father and Son proceed one from another just as in a flame. When we picture a flame we note that it generates light. One cannot have a flame without light; they coexist. The intimate communion of Father and Son, abiding in one another can be understood in visualizing such a flame. The metaphor continues to describe how the Father and Son, bound in love and unable to exist without one another, produce the Spirit. The Spirit ripples forth from them as would warmth from the flame. Although distinct, the heat is a product of and coexists with the flame and it’s light.
What do you think?
I found this incredibly helpful for my own comprehension. Sometimes the mysteries we trust in faith are not necessarily made stronger through understanding, yet grasping a relatable point can enhance our connection to it. This I can see… a flame, a single essence, shining and producing warmth in an intimate communion.
Another important concept to note when discussing the Trinity is how the three parts are joined. We believe they are united through a loving connection, or relationship. Just as in The Bricks and Sticks of Life, I advocate relationships are the foundations upon which we build our lives. They bring an intangible dimension to living where deeper meaning is derived. We are created to love: God, others and ourselves.
I venture to suppose that we all have a unique relationship to each element of God in the Trinity. Perhaps some of us see God as Father, nurturing and providing for our needs. Others may understand Him best as Creator and source energy. Still others may see God as distant, envisioning and old, bearded man who watches people on earth from beyond the clouds or stars in a faraway heaven. Christ we identify as God’s son. He came to the world to experience full humanity in an attempt to reach us on our own terms and to know our human feelings, weaknesses, hurts, and vulnerabilities. Some might see Jesus as a caring friend or an older brother, perhaps one who makes sacrifices to take care of His younger, often less wise, siblings. Some know Him as a prophet; others as a great teacher. The Holy Spirit is often distinguished as the gift God bestowed after Jesus returned “home.” In my perspective, the Spirit stays with us, surrounds us, and guides us at all times. For me, the Spirit is the grace which inspires and tugs at our heartstrings, reminding us to pray or be charitable or act with kindness (living out God’s love to both He and others). Not far off but still difficult to grasp, we might picture the Holy Spirit as a dove or a ghost, a shadow or a mystical molecule of air, floating on breezes.
Not only may we each envision parts of the Trinity differently, we may individually feel closer to any one of God’s identities. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter which we prefer or relate to best. As long as we believe... and love...
Another interesting take on Trinity on has to do with building. In construction the triangle is one of the sturdier support alternatives. Not the absolute mightiest, but definitely a more hardy, reliable option. Triangles are tough and durable -- one of the reasons why roof trusses are made using triangular shapes. The threesome’s strength lies in each side’s relationship to the others. Alone, one section is weak. The value is found in coming together into a single unit. The three sections need one another for support; all three are equally vital. No one side can fail when relying on the other two. The triangle is an uncomplicated structure. As a single, whole entity created through relationship, in unity the trio makes one complete object which has power and purpose.
Finally, I’d like to mention another trinity many of us live by. That is the three elements of faith, hope and love. They often work together encouraging us to be the best person we can be. In truth that works for my intention here too. We believe, we hope and we love -- three aspects which support one another, fortifying the core of our lives.
I conclude by wishing you a wonderful week, filled with hope and joy, and perhaps with a teeny bit of deeper closeness with God in His three aspects.
By the way, if you haven’t yet seen or read The Shack, by William Young, I recommend checking it out. Not only does it incorporate the Trinity, it offers explanation on several Christian mysteries: God’s love, simplicity, communion, pain, forgiveness, relationships, etc.… You may not agree with every pronouncement, but I found several valuable messages in this enlightening Trinity-based story.
Lillian Corrigan uses writing to learn, inspire and encourage both others and herself. No stranger to devastating, life-altering hardship and loss, she's begun working as a motivational author.