As we approach Trinity Sunday I am reminded of my childhood Sunday school class. Our wonderful teacher ambitiously tackled the mysterious idea of…Father, Son, Holy Ghost. One in three, Three in One.
Of course, as any good teacher, he was prepared with a necessary visual aid for instruction…a 3 leaf clover. For those who’ve not experienced the “holy shamrock” analogy, the teacher describes each leaf as a member of the Trinity and then follows the description by saying something like, “Now, don’t think too much about it”. You can imagine my confusion.
However, it is worth saying that the Trinity IS a mystery. In fact, it took three centuries of reflection of the Gospels to find the language to say it. The Cappadocian Fathers (Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory Nazianzen, and Basil of Caesarea) of fourth-century eastern Turkey eventually developed some highly sophisticated thinking on what the Christian church soon called the Trinity. The Greek word they daringly used was perichoresis or circle dance. Now, if one didn’t know better, they might accuse me of sounding like a new age teacher! But friends, I assure you this is very Orthodox.
When we describe God, we can only use similes, analogies, and metaphors. They are the only means we have to describe the mystery of Ultimate Reality, “God is like…” For this reason when we contemplate the Trinity I would like us to consider the word Relationship. This is what the Church Fathers and Mothers were proposing with the idea of a perfect circle dance. They were defining an infinite flow of Relationship with unending infilling and outflowing.
This is not simply the nature of God, it is the nature of REALITY ITSELF. Everything in existence exists through and within this infinite flow of Relationship. Since the beginning of time every fiber and thread in the Universe has been found in the midst of this Relationship.
Like a dinner table with no beginning or end, you—and all of creation—are invited to sit at the divine table, to participate in the given-ness and received-ness of Relationship for all time.
Infinite love has been planted within all of creation. Like holy atoms, everything is attracted to everything: life is attracted to life; love is attracted to love; God in you is attracted to God in everyone and everything else. We couldn’t stop the flow, even if we tried. THIS is Trinity.