The Mystery of the Trinity
Recently I was asked to write about my image of the Trinity. With Trinity Sunday coming up, it is an interesting question for all of us to consider. Here is my reflection. But what is yours? How do you envision the Trinity in your life?
An image of the Trinity that is meaningful for me is that of the Tree of Life. With a Franciscan spirit, I connect strongly to God through nature. When I saw a picture of Hildegard of Bingen’s mystical tree of life, I felt resonance within my core. I have taken the image of a tree and incorporated it into my faith life as a metaphor to attempt to understand the Trinity.
A tree is singular in nature yet I engage with its unique aspects differently. I envision the roots as Creator God. I can’t see them nor can I properly estimate how vast the underground system is; it is beyond my earthly vision. Yet, I know the roots are essential and the impetus for the growth of the tree. Creator God is the source of all life and hidden from my sight.
Growing upward from the roots, the trunk is the act of the Incarnation. With my arms spread I can’t even begin to wrap my arms around the trunk of an ancient tree. Likewise, I cannot begin to grasp God’s incarnation but know it is as real and solid as a tree’s wood. The trunk moves into the branches, which reach outward like Jesus, the Christ, reaches out into humanity. I can cling to the branches, pulling myself up into the tree like I cling to the person of Jesus who helps me gain access into the heart of God.
The leaves represent the Spirit. They dance and move, creating breeze. They release and float free only to be sprouted anew, inviting me to embrace the transitions of my life. They are playful and mischievous like Spirit’s method to infiltrate the human heart. The sap that flows between the roots, trunk, branches, leaves, and fruit is like the Divine energy, called love, which connects all personas in the one God. The fruit is God’s grace. Originating from roots, branches, and leaves, it offers sweet nourishment to the world.
Like all metaphors, my tree of life also falls short in describing the Trinity. A tree can be cut down or can die naturally. The Trinity, however, exists before time and lasts on into infinity. Yet, it is a beautiful and easily assessable point of contemplation for the mystery known as God.