Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell: The Divine Dance -- The Trinity and Your Transformation
The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation
November 8, 2016: I’m standing in line to vote with a hundred or so people that, apparently, live in my district but none of whom I’ve ever seen. Jack and Emma are surprisingly well behaved and self-contained, garnering approving looks all around. I’m voting for a woman for President with my daughter and son—it feels momentous.
As always, I have a book with me. Today I have Richard Rohr’s latest book, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation, written with Mike Morrell, of, among other things, Wild Goose Festival fame.
There’s respectful, hushed conversation, folks looking at their smart phones, folks chatting amiably with strangers. I’m attuned to my children’s behavior, and also reading these words:
Be reminded that neuroscience now tells us that fear, negativity, and hatred stick like Velcro to the nerves, while positivity, gratitude, and appreciation slide away like Teflon from those same nerves—until we savor them, or choose them, for a minimum of a conscious fifteen seconds! Only then do they imprint!
I lower the book. Check on my (strangely angelic) children. Appreciate the beauty of the people in the room. Imprint the appreciation.
I go back to the book and read this sentence: “Can you be present to this little bit of now?”
Every time I go vote--especially if there’s a bit of a wait and I have time to reflect—every time I get a little teary. This is American democracy. This is citizens respectfully showing up, casting a vote for their vision of our collective future. No violence. No intimidation. Just the beauty of humanity showing up to participate in self-governance. Random lyrics from the Hamilton soundtrack come to mind as I show my voter registration card and sign my name on the clipboard.
Afterwards, we celebrated democracy by going to Monkey Joe’s bounce house with friends and eating Mexican food. It was a beautiful day.
November 9, 2016: The world turned upside down. At least for a little more than half of us voters.
I admit to a pretty despairing mood on the 9th, and when I reached for The Divine Dance I was not surprised to read about suffering as the path humans often have to take to break through to trust and to have a genuine experience of God’s Trinitarian love.
This often happens when there has been a physical death or the death of a marriage, or reputation, or an occupation. But you always feel both afraid and trapped. “How?” you cry out with ten levels of anguish and impossibility. A good spiritual director might say quietly to themselves (not to the sufferer), Hallelujah! Now we’re going to begin the real spiritual journey!”
So let’s begin. Did you know that the word “Trinity” is nowhere in the Bible? Fr. Richard points out that Tertullian (150-240) coined the term from the Latin trinitas, meaning “triad,” or trinus, meaning “three-fold”. It took three centuries for theologians to wrap their minds around this three-fold God nature; and “in effect, they said Don’t start with the One and try to make it into Three; but start with the Three and see that this is the deepest nature of the One.”
It’s hard for us to wrap our own minds around that, but it’s worth your time to try. Because this is the Divine Dance, the dance and flow of Love among each of the ‘persons’ of the Trinity.
Note this for now: the principle of one is lonely; the principle of two is oppositional and moves you toward preference; the principle of three is inherently moving, dynamic, and generative.
Trinity is the description of God as relationship, and this relationship is invitational. You belong. It is the new (but ancient) pattern of God’s universe that is both timeless and specific to each moment in time. Did I just lose you?
Honestly, I really just think you need to read and savor the book for yourself.
Here are things I love about Fr. Richard. He is an accessible writer even when tackling complicated and mysterious theology. The theology is always grounded in Scripture and in centuries of theological scholarship. The scholarship also includes modern writings, even—and this is especially close to my heart—contemporary scientific thought on neuroscience, human psychology and quantum mechanics.
Fr. Richard extends the invitation to join the Divine Dance, and promises that you’ll be welcome.
The flow doesn’t have to do with you being perfect It doesn’t have to do with you being right. Nor is it ever about belonging to the right group…You have surely noticed that Jesus never has any such checklist test before he heals anybody. He just says, as it were, Are you going to allow yourself to be touched?
Do you want to be healed? Do you want to join the dance?
By and large, what human beings want is resurrection without death, answers without doubt, light without darkness, the conclusions without the process.
Vincent Harding used to say, “I am a citizen of a country that does not yet exist.” He heard that from a West African poet, who was speaking about his newly independent country. Harding, a lifelong worker for civil rights and justice for all, wrote a book in 2007 called Is America Possible?
The idea, of course, is that we each have our vision, our dream, of what America can be. What America will become depends on the vision of the people who are willing to work for it. This past election cycle has shown that Americans have many different dreams for America. We also seem to have different dreams for Christianity.
And you know what? It’s Advent. The beginning of another liturgical year. The time of waiting and of promise; of preparing for the as-yet-unseen, and yet-always-foretold epiphany.
The word of hope for me in The Divine Dance is that we are not citizens of a country that does not yet exist. The Word that was in the beginning, that was with God and was God, this Logos is “not logic in the rational sense, but logic as in the patterns of reality.”
We have work to do, people. Whatever your vision is for America or for Christianity, we have work to do. It’s the beginning of the new year. The pattern is before us.
The pattern is a three-fold dance of Love; the pattern is the mystery of a particles being a relationship of point and wave at the same time; the pattern is life-death-resurrection; the pattern is everything and everyone belongs; the pattern is as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.
Do you want to be healed? Do you want to join the dance?
Can you be present to this little bit of now?
Fr. Richard assures us that we need not be afraid of the now, whatever that now is. And he offers this Trinity Prayer.
God for us, we call you Father.
God alongside us, we call you Jesus.
God within us, we call you Holy Spirit.
You are the eternal mystery that enables, enfolds, and enlivens all things,
Even us and even me.
Every name falls short of your goodness and greatness.
We can only see who you are in what is.
We ask for such perfect seeing---
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.
Amen. (So be it.)
So be it.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.