My recent reading, mainly the brilliance of Richard Rohr writing about the Divine Dance of the Trinity, juxtaposed with my reflections and agitated cogitations over what is happening in Europe now, have resulted in something of a personal epiphany which I thought was worth sharing. The genesis of this epiphany was in Rohr’s discussion about the trilogy of the Trinity. I have always received the doctrine of the Trinity, as presented by the early church fathers, somewhat tenuously, particularly for its lack of incorporation into the scriptures, in any way other than by implication. But that discussion is for another time.
Richard clearly defines the trinitarian doctrine as three sacred entities in a sustaining relationship of divine love.
The atom, the foundation of all creation, comprises three elements, electrons, protons, and neutrons. The energy that the atom produces for growth, is inherent in the relationship between the three elements. Remind you of anything?
The atom bomb represents a violation of the relation between the elements of the foundation of creation. The splitting of the atom and the resulting disfigurement of life-giving connection and stability create the destructive power that contains the seeds of our elimination.
Have I captured your interest yet? I hope so because this is where my epiphany began.
What holds creation together is relationship, what holds the Trinity together is a relationship of divine love. Those who follow God, are, by association, tightly bound in this relationship of love.
What is going on in the world? Hatred, greed, abuse of power, violence, war, and unimaginable cruelty perpetrated on humanity by humanity. The false self, the engorged and overinflated ego in full stride. The outcome is the violation of relationship and the human carnage that is part of it.
Love and connection bring peace and sustainability and hatred and the violation of relationship results in our own destructive demise.
Robert Oppenheimer, the builder of the first atom bombs that destroyed Nagasaki, Hiroshima and Alburqueque named his launch site ‘Trinity”. Oh, my word! If you are wondering where the devil is in all of this, he is right there! What blatant and prophetic blasphemy! When questioned Oppenheimer wasn’t sure why he used that name. I hope that it was based on the relationship of three inherent in the atom, I surely hope he was not so deluded that he thought God had anything to do with it, but then he built the atom bomb…..?
One thing I have learned from the cacophony of annihilation going on in Europe is that the act of violence never makes rational sense, it is built on deep emotional fear and an inflated sense of power always creates the illusion of safety, doesn’t it? I do find hope and some joy in the words of Oppenheimer when he surveyed the mess, the genocide created by his own hands, that his atomic bomb left in its wake. He invoked the words of Hindu deity, Vishnu, saying ‘Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.’ However, this epiphany did not seem to contain any credible remorse as we do not read of the demise of the development of nuclear weaponry, only its growth. Have a look how many nuclear missiles and other lethal weaponry is breathing down the necks of the Ukrainians.
And yet we, despite what we know about the destructiveness of being in the world and not in God, still struggle to reach out for God, to surrender to his power, to do his work in the world. Richard illustrates this beautifully in the tortured words of poet John Donne in Holy Sonnet #14:
Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
as yet but knock, breathe, shine and seek to mend
that I may rise and stand, overthrow me, and bend
your force to break, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like a usurp’d town to another due,
labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
but I am betroth’d unto your enemy;
divorce me, untie that knot again.
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
Do you hear with me the tortured struggles of the spider, to free himself from destruction? The artistry of the poet calls forth our deepest pain, our deepest realisations that we are weak in the face of surrender to a higher, life-giving power. Why? I just can’t fathom why, when salvation is our gift, when love and peace await in a place where no bombs fall, no life is lost, nobody starves, nobody is violated, where even natural disasters hold the seeds of life.
Richard Rohr. 2016. Divine dance: the Trinity and your transformation. New Kensington: Whitaker House.