Icon of the Holy Trinity
Model for Right Relationship
Today is the feast of the great mystery of our faith - the trinitarian nature of the God worshiped by Christians who count theirs as one of the monotheistic faiths. Would seem to be a contradiction of terms there, an oxymoron, something like a double negative in which two things cancel each other out. However, for Christians this is the fullness of the mystery of their God who is a single being (if that term is not too anthropomorphic) possessing three natures. Rather than getting all tied up in the ancient Greek terms theologians use to explain it, I have come up with my own way of thinking about it. May I not enter into heresy!
I like to think of these three natures as three expressions of the Godhead, of the ways in which God chooses to become manifest. And, as the French say, "Vive la difference!" God the Creator is the prime mover whose life force I can see at each dawn and sunset, whom I observe as the landscape greens itself ever more abundantly with each passing spring day, and whom I have felt and held in every baby whose very lusciousness invited kisses and caresses in my arms. This is also the God of power and might who led the Israelites out of Egypt and accompanied them in the long journey through the desert.
The Son came to reveal the face of the loving Creator, to give to that parental image the compassion, mercy, and forgiveness of which it was so often deprived. In the gift of his humanity, his incarnation in human flesh, Jesus gave us a radical expression of divine accompaniment in both the sorrows and the joys of our lives. We have been told that Jesus experienced everything that we experience except sin. A careful reading of the Gospels, especially that of Mark, draws a picture of Jesus in his human nature as compassionate, familiar with the trials of this world, the challenges of living in family, community and organized society. And, although divine, willing to endure the human suffering sure to come because his was a radical teaching about the nature of God and the nature of love.
Here in the monastery, we frequently sing "Breathe on me oh, breath of God; your goodness fail me never." This is the Holy Spirit who breathes into me the life force, the grace, the strength and the wisdom to allow Thoreau's "better angels of our nature" to prevail in the choices I must make every day. It is to this Holy Spirit that I entrust my prayers for leadership in every segment of our society, in every country of the world.
The beautiful icon gracing the header of this piece is a modern version of the famous Russian icon of the Trinity written by Rublev. The icon endures as an expression of the relational nature of the mystery of our Trinitarian God. What better way could there be of showing relational being than at the dining table. In many cultures the act of eating together is distinctly sacred. To invite someone who is not a blood relation to share ones food is a great expression of human unity that flies in the face of what might separate us or even make us enemies. In this image there is ample room for everyone at the table; the food will be shared; no one will dominate the conversation. There will be a peaceful ebb and flow of one to the other; each withdrawing when called to acknowledge the other; each coming forward in response to invitation or offered opportunity. It is a generous fluidity.
Thus our Trinitarian God is a model for all relationship. The Christian way of life is all about relationship, relationship with oneself, with God and with others. Let us celebrate and meditate on this mystery, allowing that Trinitarian love to become our own personal model.