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Trinity: Part One

From Disconnection to Connection

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

Trinity: Part One

From Disconnection to Connection
Tuesday, May 7, 2019

I’m convinced that beneath the ugly manifestations of our present evils—political corruption, ecological devastation, warring against one another, hating each other based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or nationality—the greatest dis-ease facing humanity right now is our profound and painful sense of disconnection. We feel disconnected from God, certainly, but also from ourselves (especially our bodies), from each other, and from our world. Our sense of this fourfold isolation is plunging our species into increasingly destructive behavior and much mental illness.

Yet many are discovering that the Infinite Flow of the Trinity—and our practical, felt experience of this gift—offers the utterly grounded reconnection with God, with self, with others, and with our world that all spirituality, and arguably, even politics, is aiming for, but which conventional religion and politics fail to access.

Trinity overcomes the foundational philosophical problem of “the One and the Many.” Serious seekers invariably wonder how things can be both deeply connected and yet clearly distinct. In the paradigm of Trinity, we have three autonomous “Persons,” as we call them, who are nevertheless in perfect communion, given and surrendered to each other with an Infinite Love. With the endless diversity in creation, it is clear that God is not at all committed to uniformity but instead desires unity—which is the great work of the Spirit—or diversity overcome by love. Uniformity is mere conformity and obedience to law and custom; whereas spiritual unity is that very diversity embraced and protected by an infinitely generous love. This is the problem that our politics and most superficial religion are still unable to resolve.

Trinity is all about relationship and connection. We know the Trinity through experiencing the flow itself, which dissolves our sense of disconnection. The principle of one is lonely; the principle of two is oppositional and moves us toward preference and exclusion; the principle of three is inherently moving, dynamic, and generative. Trinity was made to order to undercut all dualistic thinking. Yet Christianity shelved it for all practical purposes because our dualistic theologies could not process it. [1]

God is not a being among other beings, but rather the Ground of Being itself which then flows through all beings. As Paul says to the intellectuals in Athens, this God “is not far from us, but is the one in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:27-28). The God whom Jesus reveals is presented as unhindered dialogue, a positive and inclusive flow, and a waterwheel of outpouring love that never stops! St. Bonaventure (c. 1221–1274) called God a “fountain fullness” of love. [2]

Our sense of disconnection is only an illusion. Nothing can stop the flow of divine love; we cannot undo the eternal pattern even by our worst sin. God is always winning, and God’s love will finally win in the end. Nothing humans can do can stop the relentless outpouring force that is the divine dance. Love does not lose, nor does God lose. That’s what it means to be God!

References:
[1] See Cynthia Bourgeault, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three: Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity (Shambhala: 2013); and The Shape of God: Deepening the Mystery of Trinity (CAC: 2004), CD, DVD, MP3 download.

[2] Bonaventure, Commentary on the First Book of Sentences, dist. 27, p. 1, a. un., q. 2. Cited in Introduction to Bonaventure: The Soul’s Journey into God; The Tree of Life; The Life of St. Francis, trans. Ewert Cousins (Paulist Press: 1978), 25.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: Exploring the Mystery of Trinity, discs 2 and 3 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2004), CD, MP3 download; and

Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 39-40, 42, 43, 61, 75.

Image credit: Rublev Troitsa (detail), Andrei Rublev, c. 1400–1410, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: If we take the depiction of God in The Trinity seriously, we have to say, “In the beginning was the Relationship.” The gaze between the Three shows the deep respect between them. —Richard Rohr
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