Trinity: the dance of love

Recently, I wrote about believing the unbelievable. What do we do when the thing which we know to be true with every fibre of our being is also something which is almost impossible to explain and certainly impossible to prove empirically to others around us?

The Christian concept of the Trinity definitely fits into this category! God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: three persons in one. Distinct, and yet united. Indivisible and yet in relationship with one another. People have used all kinds of metaphor to try and explain this seeming paradox, from the three leaves of the single leaf of the clover, to the way in which water can be solid, liquid, or gas.

For me, one of the best metaphors is that of the dance. The dance brings all the dances together into unity and into relationship and yet they are all dancing as one. That sense of relationship is at the heart of God.

We often say God is love, but love is impossible without both a lover and a beloved. Love implies relationship and more than one. But there is more. Not only do we have to have lover and beloved, we also must have the person with whom we can share the fact or existence of love. A third person is needed to observe the relationship between the other two in order to bring it into its fullness. Love cannot be fully itself until it is both felt and voiced between two persons and at the same time observed and acknowledged by a third person. Perhaps it is for this reason that the God whose very nature is love is three persons and not merely two. By expanding the relationship out to three it becomes inclusive rather than exclusive. A relationship between merely two persons is inward looking. As soon as we had a third, the relationship becomes outward focused and creative within itself.

Relationship is creative, whether that be the mother-father relationship that creates the child, or the business relationship which allows a creative project to flourish. Human beings are essentially creative, and that is one of the key tasks with which we are entrusted by God. It’s also one of the ways in which we bear the divine nature, in our ability to create. We are invited to become co-creators with God in this beautiful world which he has made. We are invited to discover its depth and complexity and to help it flourish. 

On May Day, I watched the children at Buckland School perform their annual May pole dance. The May pole itself had three elements – the base, the pole, and the ribbons. Each child had a ribbon and each had a unique place in the dance as they wove in and out amongst each other to make the plait. Each person might have seemed insignificant in and of themselves, but each person had a vital part to play to make the whole function properly. It seems to be a good metaphor for how God as Trinity comes together and invites us into the dance of life and creation, each one of us unique and vital, each one of us creating a part of the whole; and the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. 

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Levi Guzman on Unsplash