From Disconnection to Connection — Center for Action and Contemplation

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From Disconnection to Connection

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Trinity: Week 1

From Disconnection to Connection
Thursday, September 15, 2016

If my instincts are right, this rediscovery of Trinity can’t come a moment too soon. I’m convinced that beneath the ugly manifestations of our present evils—political corruption, ecological devastation, warring against one another everywhere, hating each other based on race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation—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 (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 gift of the Trinity—and our practical, felt experience of this gift—offers a grounded reconnection with God, with self, with others, and with our world that all religion and spirituality, and arguably, even politics, are aiming for, but which conventional religion, spirituality, and politics fail to access.

Trinity represents the overcoming of the foundational philosophical problem called “the One and the Many.” How things are both utterly connected and yet distinct is invariably the question of the serious seeker. In the paradigm of Trinity, we have three autonomous “Persons,” as we call them, who are nevertheless in perfect communion. It is a new definition of unity and a protection of diversity too, which offers us a template for everything else. We must hold the tension between distinct individuals and absolute communion. That’s the only way we’ll survive in this world, it seems to me. Each person in the Trinity is totally autonomous and yet totally given and surrendered to the others. With the endless diversity in creation, it is clear that God is not obsessed with uniformity. God does not desire uniformity, but unity. Unity is diversity embraced by an infinitely generous love.

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 you toward preference and exclusion; the principle of three is inherently moving, dynamic, and generative. The operative principle of the universe is rather perfectly reflected in the three related, moving parts of the atom (proton, electron, and neutron). Trinity was made to order to undercut all dualistic thinking. Yet Christianity shelved the idea 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 would later call God a “fountain fullness” of love.

Our sense of disconnection is only an illusion. Nothing human 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 win. Love does not lose, nor does God lose. Nothing can stop the relentless outpouring force that is the divine dance.

Gateway to Silence:
Come, sit at the table.

[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), DVD, CD, MP3 download.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 69; and
The Divine Dance: Exploring the Mystery of Trinity, disc 1 (CAC: 2004), CD, MP3 download.

Image Credit: The Hospitality of Abraham, also known as The Trinity, (detail) by Andrei Rublev, 1411 or 1425-27.