Trinity Within

I am forty three years old.  I don’t know how this happened, but it seems pretty much undeniable.

I am past the halfway mark of the average life expectancy.  I have devoted my adult life to a single career.  I have chosen a wife.  My kids are all well beyond the halfway mark through childhood.

There are lots of things that I thought I would have by this age.  Many of them…  didn’t happen.   I have lost some of the blessings of youth and early adulthood. And there has been suffering.  In some sense, I have been absurdly and miraculously free of the sorts of things that can really break a person.  But all the same?  Nobody told me, or maybe I just never listened…  Sometimes, life can hurt.  Sometimes things can such.  There are pains that I was so woefully unprepared for.

Life is not what I thought it would be.

And yet!  Yet!!!

There is this freedom.  And there is this thing like joy.  I am starting to have this understanding.

When I was a kid, I thought when I reached the advanced age of 20, I would feel like an adult.  I thought I would have it all figured out.  As I neared 20, I started to suspect that this was just a tad optimistic.  But 25 came and went, and I still felt like a kid playing dress up.  And then came 30, and I still feared somebody was going to find out I was just pretending.  Thirty five came with something like desperation.  I think this was the time I started to fear that I wasn’t ever going to grow up.

And here I am, now.  Sad and joyful and disapointed and hopeful and forty-three years old.    The understanding I thought I would have at 20?  I am finally getting there.  I seem to be about as good at predicting timing as the Windows Downloard Manager.

Tonight, I was listening to this incredibly talk by Richard Rohr.  He was talking about this process of becoming an elder.  And how the second half of life, it is all about going deeper than the words and plattitudes we spout off through the first half.  He used the example of the trinity: “Do you have an experience of the trinity deeper than the motions you are making?” He asked.

I am not sure that he meant for it to go in the direction my brain did, but I had this flash of understanding, just then.  I realized that I am a symbol of the trinity.   Or it is a symbol of me.  Or both and also, i suppose, neither.

The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.

I am a trinity unto myself, as I move into the second half of my life.

I am a father in many senses of the word, and longing to be one more so.

I am a son.  I am still a son.  In some narrow senses, I am less of a son than I have been, in that I am less dependent on my earthly father.  (Some of the time.)  My mom has passed away, I do not directly depend on her in this world.

And yet, I am the summation of my son-experiences.

In other words: I am grown.  I am working at being wise, I am working at being an elder.  I am working at being, ultimately, a father.  I am able to do this because I grew.  Because I was a son.  Perhaps this is similiar to Jesus’ entry into the world:  God the father is in some sense justified as father because he was a son, because he set aside his God-hood.

And the Holy Spirit?  Just as it is with the trinity outside of me, it is with the trinity within.  The Holy Spirit is the between place, the mystery place, the place where words begin to come short…  But I can point to some things, hint and suggest.

There are experiences that are between my fatherhood and my sonhood.  There is a boundary, a bleeding over, a bleeding through.  There is a need to stitch these two opposite sides together, just as the head-side of a coin must be joined to the tales-side of the coin with the width of the coin.

And just as there is this mystery outside of me, there is this mystery within:  I, and you, are the father and the son and the holy spirit.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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