Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Dancing Trinity

"A Cosmic Dance"
- Daybreak at the Desert Retreat House-

On the Christian calendar today is Trinity Sunday – a day on which the church proclaims  the belief that “God” is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I am reminded of the time a while back when an agnostic friend of mine declared: “I don’t even believe in one God but you Christians believe there are three.” Actually, Christians do not 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 a bit more palatable for non-believers in our contemporary 21st century society.

As I think about it, most Christians rarely imagine God as a "Trinity" and even on “Trinity Sunday” many preachers will pretty much avoid directly talking about the “Holy Trinity” because the concept is so complex.

I recall a somewhat humorous picture of the Trinity in one of my childhood religion books, it looked something like a family portrait of God. The “Father” was depicted sitting on a throne with a long white beard, next to him sat Jesus, 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 made very little sense to me and like many Christians, I just stopped thinking about the confusing doctrine of “God” as three persons in one being.  But I gradually realized that the idea of God as Trinity is nowhere near as static and anthropomorphic as that childhood depiction. 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 concept first emerged back in the 4th century.

The ancient Greeks had a rather intuitive, deep awareness of a universe in which everything and everyone was somehow dynamically interconnected, all “dancing around together” in a cosmic harmony. And so they reasoned that, if “God” created it all and everything reflects the image of “God,” 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.  God is a community, God is a dynamic relationship, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are universal forces all dancing around together in a great cosmic dance and everything that has being is part of that 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 multiple universes, galaxies and microscopic quarks in which everyone and everything all move together in cosmic harmony. In fact, Einstein himself defined the universe as a dancing trinity 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” at the core of all that exists, flowing in and through everything that has being.

Anthony DeMello 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 me on this Trinity Sunday. Today is a day for proclaiming that we are not dancers but rather we are the dance and the name of the dance is “God.”

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