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Center for Action and Contemplation

The Ultimate Paradigm Shift

Sunday, June 4, 2023

This week’s meditations focus on the second of the CAC’s Seven Themes of an Alternative Orthodoxy:  

If God is Trinity and Jesus is the face of God, then it is a benevolent universe. God is not someone to be afraid of but is the Ground of Being and is on our side. [1] 

Richard Rohr believes that the doctrine of the Trinity affirms the relational, loving nature of reality:  

Most of us began by thinking of God as one Being and then tried to make God into three (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). What I want to do—as Church Fathers did in the fourth century—is start with the three, focus on the nature of the relationship between them, and recognize that such relationality creates the ONE.  

Philippians 2:5–6 beautifully describes Trinitarian relationship: “Jesus’ state was Divine, yet he did not cling to equality with God, but he emptied himself.” This is how the three persons of the Trinity relate: by living in an eternal self-emptying (kenosis), which allows each of them to let go completely and give themselves to the other. They are simultaneously loving and totally loveable, one to another.  

When we start with the three, we realize God is perfect giving and perfect receiving, which makes communion, extravagant generosity, humble receptivity, and unhindered dialogue the very names of Being. Then we know God as the deepest flow of Life Itself, Relationship Itself. It’s not that a static Divine Being decides to love; love is the very nature and shape of Divine Being.  

In the Trinity, love finally has a solid definition and description. If Trinity is the template for all creation, from atoms to galaxies, then a fine metaphor for God is that of a water wheel that is always outpouring in one direction. Giving and surrendered receiving are the shape of reality. Now love becomes much bigger than mere emotions, feelings, infatuation, or passing romance. It is even the physical and metaphysical shape of the universe.  

This deep flow is then the pattern of the whole universe, and any idea of God’s “wrath” or of God withholding what is an infinitely outflowing love is theologically impossible. Love is the very pattern with which we start and the goal toward which we move. It gives energy to the entire universe, from orbiting protons and neutrons to the social and sexual life of species, to the planets and stars. We were indeed created in communion, by communion, and for communion (Genesis 1:26 calls it being “created in the image and likeness of God”). 

With Trinity as the first and final template for reality, love is the ontological “Ground of Being” itself (as Paul Tillich has said). [2] It is the air that we breathe, as any true mystic discovers, consciously or unconsciously. We do not have to be able to describe this in words to experience it. In fact, we can’t describe it. We can only live it and breathe it. 


[1] To learn more about the CAC’s Seven Themes of an Alternative Orthodoxy, visit this page.

[2] Tillich often used this phrase; see The Essential Tillich: An Anthology of the Writings of Paul Tillich, ed. F. Forrester Church (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1999). 

Adapted from Richard Rohr, A Spring within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations (Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016), 258, 259. 

Image credit: A path from one week to the next— Jenna Keiper, Untitled. Jenna Keiper, Untitled. Izzy Spitz, Untitled. Watercolor. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image. 

On retreat, the CAC staff used watercolors to connect to our collective grief. This is one of the watercolor paintings that came from that exercise. 

Story from Our Community:  

On the evening of [my 20-year-old granddaughter’s] funeral, I witnessed the Trinity in action. Her father was cradling her inconsolable mother. Their son was kneeling with his arms around both his mother and father. I stood behind the three of them, with my arms around them. I remember clearly feeling the love flowing through them and around them. It flowed from each of them to the other, and to me as well. It was torture for me to see my own child so heart sick, but in that moment, I was grateful to witness the incredible presence of Love. It was tangible, solid, and thick. In that moment, I saw the great mystery clearly. It was terrible, awesome, and deeply humbling. —Teresa C. 

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