- in my meditation garden -
On the Christian calendar today is Trinity Sunday – a day for celebrating the belief that “God” is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. While browsing around the social media yesterday I happened to catch a tweet that said: “I don’t even believe in one God but Christians believe there are three.” But that’s not at all true, Christians certainly don’t believe there are three “Gods,” and in fact, an understating of “God” as a “Trinity” may make the whole idea of “God” far more understandable and perhaps even more palatable for non-believers in our
contemporary 21st century society.
The fact is that because imagining “God” as a “Trinity” is somewhat complex, most Christians rarely think of God in terms of a Trinity and even on “Trinity Sunday” many preachers will pretty much avoid directly talking about the “Holy Trinity.” I recall a picture of the Trinity in one of my childhood religion books, it was something like a family portrait of God. The “Father” was depicted sitting on a throne with a long white beard, next to him sat the “Son” who looked a bit younger and appeared somewhat less stern than the old man, and in between the two of them was a dove, symbolic of the Holy Spirit. They were all siting in a big room high above the clouds, far removed from anyone or anything down here on earth,
As I grew up that "anthropomorphic" picture of those two heavenly persons and that heavenly dove made very little sense to me and like may Christians, I just stopped thinking about the confusing doctrine of “God” as three persons in one being.
The fact is, however, the idea of God as Trinity can’t be captured in a portrait. The language of “Trinity” is highly poetic and metaphorical, and the concept of Trinity can only be understood by looking at the language and worldview of the ancient Greeks from which the idea of God as Trinity emerged back in the 4th century.
The Greeks had a rather intuitive deep awareness of a universe in which everything and everyone was somehow dynamically interconnected, all “dancing together” in a cosmic harmony. And so, if “God” created it all and everything reflects the image of “God,” they reasoned that it must be that “God” IS a dynamic relationship, a cosmic harmony.
When the 4th century Greeks talked about “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit,” they weren’t talking about two people and a bird sitting in a room up in heaven; rather, they were using wonderfully poetic language, like the language of a poem or a song. God is a Trinity, Father, Son and Holy spirit, universal forces all dancing together as One, and everything that has being is part of that great cosmic dance.
This reminds me of something the Buddha also taught:
To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at
the movements of a dance
As I see it, the idea of “God as a Trinity” may well appeal to the sensibilities of a 21st century mindset in which the scientists of our own day describe the nature of the universe as a swirling/dancing mass of atoms. Today’s scientists have uncovered an almost-mystical quantum world of galaxies and quarks in which everyone and everything all move together in a great cosmic harmony. In fact, Einstein himself defined the universe as a cosmic dancing trinity, a universe where matter space and time are constantly interacting and performing together.
To imagine “God as Trinity” inevitably means that “God” is not a separated distant being (or three beings) stuck away up in heaven; rather “God” is an abiding energy, an energy of “Dancing Love” flowing in and through everything that has being.
Anthony De Mello once said:
To lose the self is to suddenly realize that you are something
other then what you thought you were.
You thought you were the center,
you thought you were the dancer,
You now experience yourself as the dance.
This is the ultimate lesson for this Trinity Sunday. Today is a day for remembering that we are not dancers but rather we are the dance and the name of the dance is “God.”