The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation by Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell
— Reviewed by Alana Levandoski
Today of all days I sit down to write a review of Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell’s, The Divine Dance. Yesterday, 6 people were killed and 8 injured at a Quebec City mosque, making it the most extreme case of terrorism to happen on Canadian soil (if you don’t count the British and French invasions). It seems ideology is able to cross physical borders a lot easier than human beings are.
While I have read The Divine Dance before, once out loud with my husband and once in silence, this week I have been rereading it with a more alert eye, perhaps because my eyes weren’t as open back in October.
As this is for the alumni of the Living School, I want to say that for this third reading I chose to pretend I had never heard Richard Rohr speak and had never read anything he had written. I asked the question: what would it be like to read this book if I hadn’t had all the exposure to Living School teachings and to Richard’s transmitting presence?
Delightfully, and not a moment too soon, I am happy to report that reading with a “beginner’s mind,” as we have been taught, not only “cleanses the lens” but refreshes the depth of the good news that Richard has encountered and attempts to convey in his life’s work. Through their use of engaging science, poetry, tradition, mystery, and Cynthia Bourgeault’s insights on “Trinity as a ternary system,” Richard and Mike give us what we need for these dark times. Sitting with this book again convinces me that somehow all of this current darkness “made manifest” is already being incarnated and transformed (though how, outside of playing our small part, remains a mystery we must suffer with). The paradox of the book is that it gives us unbearable hope, but also absolutely no license to “spiritually bypass” current conditions on our planet.
The questions, “When has the many ceased to be one?” and “When has the one ceased to be many?” reminded me of the concept of the drop in the ocean and the ocean in the drop. This perspective of Trinity unites us to all else and asks of us such trust that, if we’re not careful, we might glaze over in some sections of the book because somewhere inside of us we still can’t believe the good news is really that good. A practice that came to mind is to overlap visioning whomever you come into contact with as God, manifesting as a unique self, and see yourself and that person together, as particles made up of Life itself.
On a personal note, I was utterly haunted by the section on the atom bomb: “the reversal or undoing of Trinity” in harnessing the energy of the relationship between the proton, neutron, and electron. I let that disturb me and then somehow inside of me a “reversal of the reversal” occurred. What would happen if we were to “redo instead of undo the relationship” between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Suddenly the haunting power of the atom bomb became infinitely more powerful in the direction of life instead of destruction. The question became: “How can I participate in releasing atomic love across the world?” How can we harness the power of the intended, not undone, relationship between the three? Surely it is the more powerful of the two!
But, as in all stories, the Love at the heart of the matter always seems to be less powerful than the great shadow that tries to separate, especially for certain groups or beings. Talking animals in Narnia. Elves tortured and turned into orcs in Middle Earth. Trees. Water. (And to those groups who are not in direct danger, we must remember that having the option to stand with those at greatest risk is a privileged position.)
Mike Morrell’s presence in the book is a great pairing. There is a cross-generational feel to the layout of the book, a researcher’s mind joined to Richard’s deep knowing. Whether you’ve read the book already or have it on the list, I recommend reading it the way I did on my third time. Pretend you didn’t attend the Living School. Pretend you have never heard of Richard Rohr. Pretend you didn’t get to sit at his feet for a week and ask him questions. Pretend you’re stuck somewhere in the spiral dynamic that divides the field (let’s face it, there are parts of us that still are stuck). Part of me wonders if the Living School happened as a part of a greater narrative, training us for this unspeakable (but we must speak) moment in history.
May we delight in the discovery of “what is true, and true everywhere,” as Richard says, and allow Trinity, wherever it lies dormant in our consciousness, in our physical body, to spiral into life. Surely it is more subtle than the reversal of the relationship, but surely also, this relationship is at work, is suffering with all who are suffering (not just in America, but everywhere), and is uniting this planet in ways we cannot yet see.
I cannot imagine a more difficult time to trust that this is true. But interestingly, dance has always been at the heart of expression for the oppressed.
What did I glean most from this book? When in doubt, dance.
Alana Levandoski is a song and chant writer from Canada. As an alumna of the Living School, Alana is diligently at work creating musical glimpses of incarnational reality in the whole of life. To hear more of her work, including her album Sanctuary with James Finley, go to alanalevandoski.com.