|Trinity by revelsaapeters|
Jan Richardson has a way with her words. She also has a way with images and her words particularly caught my attention in wondering what it means to try to explain the Trinity. In 2008, she pondered with the Celts about the spiral shape of God.
I love this idea.
So, I tried to imagine how I could share this with children. I tried to imagine where these young people have seen spirals before and how those experiences might be like God. I came up with snails, shells and spiral notebooks. None of these seemed to say much about God. They are ordinary objects that may have something to say about the first Sunday of Ordinary Time but on this particular Sunday — on Trinity Sunday — aren’t we supposed to talk about the profound awesomeness of God? Don’t we talk about the ordinary parts about God all summer? Can’t we make God big on this particular Sunday?
My images gave me no inspiration so I decided I just draw it and see what they said. Truly, I wanted to talk about chaos. I wanted to explore how this shape reveals the strange tension in the beginning of Genesis where we assume that God is in the order. God orders the chaos. But it seems that God is chaos. God was there before all of those things came to be. Before night and day, beasts and birds, seas and land, it was just the chaos of God hanging out. It seems to me that God likes the chaos. She finds herself there. She is drawn into it. She learns more about herself there. That borders on that theological premise that all of life is suffering. I’m not so sure about that. I don’t think God wants us to suffer. I think God wants us to love — but that’s chaotic too. There is extreme chaos in loving this world and its people. God knows that it’s not easy but it seems that she likes to hang out there. She is drawn into that chaotic love.
I’m not even sure about my own thoughts on the chaos of God’s love. So, that wouldn’t have been a good approach to explore this possibility with the children. Instead, I drew a single spiral and asked them where they’d seen it on the news. There was silence. They shook their heads. They didn’t know. And then, one of the little girls said something I didn’t anticipate. She’d seen it in the newspaper. It took me a second before I sighed heavily. “Yes you have,” I said. “There have been a lot of spirals in the news recently.” I silently muttered prayers for Joplin, MO, Springfield, MA and too many other places but I didn’t continue with that theme. I wasn’t sure how to explore the chaos in this little girl’s wisdom. I was humbled. God is the chaos — and I am in awe.