Jabbok Dawn

Tumbling in the Sand

The Poetry of Trinity


The texts for Sunday, May 26, 2013 (Trinity Sunday, year C): Proverbs 8:1–4, 22–31, Psalm 8, Romans 5:1–5, and John 16:12–15

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” – John 16:12

This passage from John reminds me of rather famous advice from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke to a young poet. It goes like this:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

It kind of seems like faith is the same sort of thing. It is one giant question, one giant mystery that we kind of struggle with, not necessarily to find the answer but rather to live into the unknowing and mystery. Maybe along the way, we find answers, but when it comes to God, I think that perhaps the more answers we find the more mystery and unknowing we uncover.

Sunday is Trinity Sunday. A day of the church year to dance in, I think, one of the greatest mysteries of faith—the very nature of God. Which, we describe with the strange assertion that God is one in three and three in one.

I think, however, that there is a risk in this day and anytime we talk theology to think that this thing we call the Trinity (or any other assertion we make about God or our experience of God) is the answer rather than the question—that the Trinity is the clear understanding rather than the deeper mystery.

Actually, as I think about it, maybe better than thinking of the Trinity as the question, it’s as if, really, our description of the Trinity is like poetry that we sometimes mistake for prose. The difference between these being that poetry tells us truth by inviting us into the greater wonder of it and prose tells us the truth by just telling us what is (which is a simplification of the power of prose, but sadly, we often read prose only that way … we seem to get the potential depth of poetry a little more).

Anyway, I think our language of the Trinity is really poetry, expressing the inexpressible truth of our experience of God, not trying to explain it, exactly, but rather to invite us to ponder, to wonder, to experience, and to know the truth of a God that is more than.

Three in One
One in Three

Within each cell
Beyond the stars
Breath under breath

The ineffable
Flesh and blood
Fire and wind and Spirit

Law giver
Rule breaker
Over-pouring comforter

Creating Word
Present silence

Dancing movement
Stilling stillness
Trembling Wonder

Justice demanding
Love giving
Grace beyond measure

Also God.
And also God.
But One God


Graphic by Abraham Lincoln’s Photography. Borrowed from Not Graceful but Grace filled, a blog by Anna Scherer

Other related posts:

Trinity Sunday: A God who is also

Incomplete Alone: A Sermon for Trinity Sunday


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This entry was posted on May 23, 2013 by in Poetry, Sparks from the Lectionary and tagged , , , , , .

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