Trinity Sunday 2010
Reflections on the Trinity—personal and poetic by The Rev. Margaret Rose
Swirling in my head this week as I thought of Trinity Sunday were the many images of Trinity which have journeyed with me over the years. Did it matter, I wondered, that God, according to our tradition is one in three. Did matter that the three are portrayed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Are they one? Are they three? Must we call them Father and Son? Can we name them according to their being—Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer or Spirit? What is unity in the midst of these possibilities?
I remember the seminary years of studying the Trinitarian heresies, the ones which neglected to make God fully God, or fully human. One person of the Trinity taking precedence over another.
The revelation came when I began to understand the essential nature of the Trinity in terms of the relational nature of God. As three persons, God is essentially in relationship with God’s own self. Above all else, God is relationship. And if we are made in that image then so are we. We are in relationship with God, with each other and within ourselves.
Here at the Episcopal Church Center we have been working in our Mission Department to live into something called relational leadership. It is the kind of leadership which seeks to be grounded in the baptismal covenant of respecting the dignity of every human being, not in status or who has the power over another but in mutual accountability and recognition of gifts. This kind of leadership is not always easy. When anxiety or uncertainly emerges, we return to old models, seeking permission, recalling hierarchies and protection which give us approval or make us feel safe. Somehow as we move more deeply into this work, I suspect that God’s connection to us in relationship will allow us the freedom and the safety to commit to this new way.
Lately I have been pondering my own relationship with this Trinitarian God. I have begun to use some Ignatian practices in prayer and discover a God whose desire is that I ( or we) discover our own heart’s desire, the better to become fully human and fully the one whom God made us to be. It is comforting to believe that my desires are those which will best keep me on a path of faith. Is this God the spirit? The parent? The son? Perhaps all three. In the depths of this prayer I discover that the most mundane desires are made sacred as part of the process of equipping me (us) for authentic lives. And it is out of that authenticity that our work bears fruit.
Yet even as I relish the sweetness of the Ignatian offering, my mind returns to John Donne’s poem of the 17th century. Batter My heart, Three Person’d God:
Batter My Heart, Three-Person'd God ( John Donne)
Batter my heart, three person'd God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee,'and bend
Your force, to breake, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to'another due,
Labour to'admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearley'I love you,'and would be loved faine,
But am betroth'd unto your enemie:
Divorce mee,'untie, or breake that knot againe,
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you'enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.
This Trinity is not full of sweetness but is invited to ravish the prayer, to mold and remold. A lover? Abuse? Or perhaps just the way we struggle with the God of our lives to become the one God calls us to be.