The Divine Dance: The Trinity & Your Transformation by Richard Rohr

The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation by Richard Rohr, notes and references herein are from the kindle edition

We must—absolutely must—maintain a fundamental humility before the Great Mystery. If we do not, religion always worships itself and its formulations and never God.

The very mystical Cappadocian Fathers of fourth-century eastern Turkey eventually developed some highly sophisticated thinking on what we soon called the Trinity. It took three centuries of reflection on the Gospels to have the courage to say it, but they of this land—which included Paul of Tarsus before them and Mevlânâ Rumi of Konya afterward—circled around to the best metaphor they could find: Whatever is going on in God is a flow, a radical relatedness, a perfect communion between Three—a circle dance of love. And God is not just a dancer; God is the dance itself.

Brother Elias Marechal, a monk at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia:  The ancient Greek Fathers depict the Trinity as a Round Dance: an event that has continued for six thousand years, and six times six thousand, and beyond the time when humans first knew time. An infinite current of love streams without ceasing, to and fro, to and fro, to and fro: gliding from the Father to the Son, and back to the Father, in one timeless happening. This circular current of trinitarian love continues night and day…. The orderly and rhythmic process of subatomic particles spinning round and round at immense speed echoes its dynamism.

Created by Russian iconographer Andrei Rublev in the fifteenth century, The Trinity is the icon of icons for many of us.

There’s green, easily representative of “the Spirit.” Hildegard of Bingen, the German Benedictine abbess, musical composer, writer, philosopher, mystic, and overall visionary, living three centuries before Rublev, called the Spirit’s endless fertility and fecundity veriditas—a quality of divine aliveness that makes everything blossom and bloom in endless shades of green.

The divine photosynthesis that grows everything from within by transforming light into itself—precisely the work of the Holy Spirit. Is that good or what? The Holy One in the form of Three—eating and drinking, in infinite hospitality and utter enjoyment between themselves.

If we take the depiction of God in The Trinity seriously, we have to say, “In the beginning was the Relationship.” This icon yields more fruits the more you gaze on it. Every part of it was obviously meditated on with great care: the gaze between the Three; the deep respect between them as they all share from a common bowl. And note the hand of the Spirit pointing toward the open and fourth place at the table! Is the Holy Spirit inviting, offering, and clearing space? If so, for what?

God is not seen as a distant, static monarch but—as we will explore together—a divine circle dance, as the early Fathers of the church dared to call it (in Greek perichoresis, the origin of our word choreography). God is the Holy One presenced in the dynamic and loving action of Three.

In other words, divine inclusion—again, what we rightly name salvation—was Plan A and not Plan B! Our final goal of union with God is grounded in creation itself, and also in our own unique creation.8 This was a central belief in my own spiritual formation as a Franciscan friar.9 Our starting place was always original goodness,10 not original sin. This makes our ending place—and everything in between—possessing an inherent capacity for goodness, truth, and beauty. Salvation is not some occasional, later emergency additive but God’s ultimate intention from the very beginning, even “written in our hearts.”11 Are you ready to take your place at this wondrous table? Can you imagine that you are already a part of the dance?

God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.12 My Father goes on working, and so do I.13 The Holy Spirit…will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

A paradigm shift is tantamount to what religion often calls “major conversion.” And it is equally rare in both science and religion! Any genuine transformation of worldview asks for such a major switch from the track we’re familiar with that often those who hold the old paradigm must actually die off before a new paradigm can gain traction and wide acceptance. Even more shocking is Kuhn’s conclusion that a paradigm shift has little to do with logic or even evidence, and everything to do with cataclysmic insight and breakthrough. German mystic Meister Eckhart called this phenomenon “boiling”!

History has so long operated with a static and imperial image of God—as a Supreme Monarch who is mostly living in splendid isolation from what he—and God is always and exclusively envisioned as male in this model—created. This God is seen largely as a Critical Spectator (and his followers do their level best to imitate their Creator in this regard). We always become what we behold; the presence that we practice matters. That’s why we desperately need a worldwide paradigm shift in Christian consciousness regarding how we relate to God.

Instead of God being the Eternal Threatener, we have God as the Ultimate Participant—in everything—both the good and the painful.  Instead of an Omnipotent Monarch, let’s try what God as Trinity demonstrates as the actual and wondrous shape of the Divine Reality, which then replicates itself in us17 and in “all the array” of creation.18

Instead of God watching life happen from afar and judging it… How about God being inherent in life itself? How about God being the Life Force of everything? Instead of God being an Object like any other object… How about God being the Life Energy between each and every object (which we would usually call Love or Spirit)? This allows God to be much larger, at least coterminous with the ever-larger universe we are discovering, and totally inclusive—what else could any God worthy of the name be? Instead of the small god we seem stuck with in our current (and dying) paradigm, usually preoccupied with exclusion, the Trinitarian Revolution reveals God as with us in all of life instead of standing on the sidelines, always critiquing which things belong and which things don’t. The Trinitarian Revolution reveals God as always involved instead of the in-and-out deity that leaves most of humanity “orphaned” much of the time.19 Theologically, of course, this revolution repositions grace as inherent to creation, not as an occasional additive that some people occasionally merit. If this revolution has always been quietly present, like yeast in the dough of our rising spirituality, it might help us understand the hopeful and positive “adoption” and “inheritance” theologies of Paul20 and the Eastern Fathers over the later, punitive images of God that have dominated the Western church. This God is the very one whom we have named “Trinity”—the flow who flows through everything, without exception, and who has done so since the beginning. Thus, everything is holy, for those who have learned how to see. The implications of this spiritual paradigm shift, this Trinitarian Revolution, are staggering: every vital impulse, every force toward the future, every creative momentum, every loving surge, every dash toward beauty, every running toward truth, every ecstasy before simple goodness, every leap of élan vital, as the French would say, every bit of ambition for humanity and the earth, for wholeness and holiness, is the eternally-flowing life of the Trinitarian God. Whether we know it or not! This is not an invitation that you can agree with or disagree with. It is a description of what is already happening in God and in everything created in God’s image and likeness. This triune God allows you, impels you, to live easily with God everywhere and all the time: in the budding of a plant, the smile of a gardener, the excitement of a teenage boy over his new girlfriend, the tireless determination of a research scientist, the pride of a mechanic over his hidden work under the hood, the loving nuzzling of horses, the tenderness with which eagles feed their chicks, and the downward flow of every mountain stream. This God is found even in the suffering and death of those very things! How could this not be the life-energy of God? How could it be anything else? Such a big definition of life must include death in its Great Embrace, “so that none of your labors will be wasted.”21 In the chirp of every bird excited about a new morning, in the hard beauty of every sandstone cliff, in the deep satisfaction at every job well done, in the passion of sex, and even in a clerk’s gratuitous smile to a department store customer or in the passivity of the hospital bed, “the world, life or death, the present or the future—all belong to you; [and] you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God,” as the apostle Paul puts it.22 It is one Trinitarian Flow since the beginning.515

It is not about being obviously religious. We have tried that for centuries with small results; it’s about being quietly joyous and cooperative23 with the divine generosity that connects everything to everything else.556

God’s joyous unveiling as Trinity can melt even the most hardened constrictions, illuminating the way toward a fourfold re-union of Spirit, self, society, and sense of space.580

Catherine Mowry LaCugna’s heady book entitled God for Us: The Trinity and Christian Life.604

I much more consciously enjoyed the flow that I now saw flowing everywhere.621

resonate with your own experience, so you can say, I know this—I’ve witnessed this to be true for myself. Because that’s the great moment in all divine revelation, when beautiful ideas drop in from head to heart, from the level of dogma to experience. When it’s not something that we merely believe, but in a real sense something that we know. This is my prayer: that the divine dance of God be something you know, and my words will not get in the way of it.626

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. This starting point, along with the contemplative mind to understand it, was much more emphasized and developed in the Eastern church,655

God is not a being among other beings, but rather Being itself revealed for any mature seeker.30 The God whom Jesus talks about, and includes himself in, is presented as unhindered dialogue, a totally positive and inclusive flow in one direction, and a waterwheel of outpouring love that never stops! St. Bonaventure would later call such a God a “fountain fullness” of love. Any talk of anger in God, “wrath” in God, unforgiveness in God, or any kind of holding back whatsoever, the Cappadocian mystics would see as theologically impossible and forever undone in a Trinitarian notion of God. Nothing human can stop the flow of divine love; we cannot undo the eternal pattern even by our worst sin. God is always winning, and God’s love will win. Love does not lose, nor does God lose. You can’t stop the relentless outpouring force that is the divine dance.661

when this Jesus is revealed to us Christians by calling himself the Son of the Father and yet one with the Father, he is giving clear primacy to relationship. Who you are is who you are in the Father, as he would put it.31 That is your meaning. “My self is God, nor is any other self known to me except my God,” Catherine of Genoa said.32689

We’re not of independent substance; we exist only in relationship. How countercultural! To the Western mind, relationship always looked like second or third best: “Who wants to just be a relationship? I want to be a self-made693

God is relationship itself. And don’t you see that? Have you ever met a holy person? They’re always people who can stay in relationship at all costs.701

“Richard, at the end of your life, you’ll realize that every mentally ill person you’ve ever worked with is basically lonely.”706

there are probably physical reasons for some mental illness, but loneliness is what activates it.”709

Every case of nonphysiologically-based mental illness stems from a person who has been separated, cut off, living alone, forgetting how to relate. This person does not know intimacy and is starved for communion. That’s probably why God created the sexual drive so strong in most of us. It’s an instinct that demands relationship in its healthy manifestation, because when you separate yourself from others you become sick, toxic, and—I’m going to say—even evil. I think we’re back again to this mystery of Trinity. Now we’re prepared to say that God is absolute relatedness. I would name salvation as simply the readiness, the capacity, and the willingness to stay in relationship. As long as you show up, the Spirit will keep working. That’s why Jesus shows up in this world as a naked, vulnerable one—a defenseless baby. Talk about utter relationship! Naked vulnerability means I’m going to let you influence me; I’m going to allow you to change me. What’s the alternative? “You can’t change me.” “You can’t teach me anything.” “I know already.” “I have all the answers.” When you don’t give other people any power in your life, when you block them, I think you’re spiritually dead. And not far from evil. It won’t be long before you start doing evil things. Oh sure, you won’t call them evil—you will not even recognize them as evil on the surface of your awareness. Atomized, sequestered consciousness is the seed of unrelated Aristotelian independence bearing its full fruit in Western isolation; we become unquestioned masters of our own shrinking kingdoms. Empathy starves in those hermetically sealed containers of self; goodness goes there to die. What a contrast to the Way of Jesus, which is an invitation to a Trinitarian way of living, loving, and relating—on earth as it is in Godhead. We—not you, but we—are intrinsically like the Trinity, living in an absolute relatedness. We call this love. We really were made for love, and outside of it we die very quickly. And our spiritual lineage tells us that Love is personal—“God is love.”33711

we have Jesus addressing his God—who is apparently other than himself—and we have Jesus offering to share a part of himself, also the Father’s self, which he calls Spirit. Father, Son, Spirit: Which is which? our ancestors surely wondered. Jesus describes this full flow in and out as breathing,36 which is yet another good metaphor, breath and Spirit being linguistically inseparable in Hebrew. Thus, the holy breath emanates from God and is named as God.774

all authentic knowledge of God is participatory knowledge.790

Neither of these know how to know! We have sacrificed our unique telescope for a very inadequate microscope. Divine knowing—some would call it spiritual intuition—is actually an allowing of someone else to know in us, through us, for us, and even as us. It794

In other words, God (and uniquely the Trinity) cannot be known as we know any other object—such as a machine, an objective idea, or a tree—which we are able to “objectify.” We look at objects, and we judge them from a distance through our normal intelligence, parsing out their varying parts, separating this from that, presuming that to understand the parts is always to be able to understand the whole. But divine things can never be objectified in this way; they can only be “subjectified” by becoming one with them! When neither yourself nor the other is treated as a mere object, but both rest in an I-Thou of mutual admiration, you have spiritual knowing.39 Some of us call this contemplative knowing. Such knowing intuits things in their wholeness, with all levels of connection and meaning, and perhaps how they fit in the full scheme of things. Thus, the contemplative response to the moment is always appreciation and inherent re-spect (“to look at a second time”) because I am now a part of what I am trying to see. Our first practical and partial observation of most things lacks this respect. It is not yet contemplative knowing.810

the originating mystery of Trinity both names and begins the mirroring process, allowing us to know all that we need to know by the same endless process of mirroring and reflecting.40 We know things in their depth and beauty only by this second gaze of love. Hold on to this central metaphor of mirroring as we move forward: a true mirror first receives an image and then reflects it back truthfully—but now so that I can see myself, too. The all-important thing is that you find the right mirror that mirrors you honestly and at depth. All personhood is created in this process, and our job is always to stay inside this mirroring.822

our task is to trustfully receive and then reflect back the inner image transmitted to us until, as the apostle Paul expressed, “we are gradually turned into the image that we reflect.”42829

This is the whole spiritual journey in one sentence! All love, goodness, and holiness is a reflected gift. You take all things into yourself by gazing at them with reverence, and this completes the circuit of love—because this is how creation is looking out at you. The inner life of the Trinity has become the outer life of all creation. This is good! This is all about expanding our recognition and reverence for the universal mystery of Incarnation (the enfleshment of the Divine) until, in the end, as Augustine shockingly puts it, “there shall be one Christ, loving Himself.”43 And of course, he is only building on Paul: “There is only Christ: he is everything and he is in everything.”44 The Christ is the universalization of what many of us first fell in love with in Jesus.831

The divine mirroring will never stop; mirroring is how the whole transformation process is personally initiated and finally achieved. But we have to be taught how to “gaze steadily into this law of perfect freedom, and make this our habit,” as James so brilliantly intuits it.46839

no objectification of God is ever possible. We can only be mirrored, and we can only know and see ourselves fully both in a mirror and through a mirror. It is thus crucial and central to have a well-polished mirror that can see and reflect God in you. Yes, good theology and God-image are important! And dare we believe that God sees a bit of Godself mirrored in new form as God gazes at us? This is a very fair conclusion. Mirrored knowledge is not “logical” knowledge—it’s reflected and received knowledge.844

All people need to be seen for themselves and as themselves, and receive the divine gaze intimately—and not just rely on someone else’s seeing.852

People prefer laws and reassuring repetitive rituals to intimate mirroring. True mirroring only needs to be received and recognized once—and once is enough to change you forever. But it deepens if we “gaze steadily and make it a habit,” as James says. This is the heart of all prayer.857

Humans get excited about something only if it includes them in some way. God surely knew this about us, and so God included us inside of God’s own knowing—by planting the Holy Spirit within us as the Inner Knower and Reminder of “all things.”51 This is indeed a re-minding, a very different kind of mind that is given to us! But it gets even better: we know and accept ourselves in the very same movement in which we’re knowing and accepting God; in surrendering to God, we simultaneously accept our best and fullest self. What a payoff! What a truly holy exchange! And it’s all accomplished in the process of mirroring. On the psychological level, this is Heinz Kohut’s “recovery of the self.”52 The doctrine of Trinity says that it’s finally participatory knowledge that matters, not rational calculating, which is but one limited form of knowing. God—and the human person by an irreducibly important extension—must never be objectified. In fact, God refuses to be an object of our thinking. As John of the Cross so frequently insisted, God refuses to be known but can only be loved.53870

we’d have every right to expect a family resemblance between ourselves and everything else. Trinity allows our scientific and spiritual cosmologies to finally operate as one,889

Robert Lanza’s work on biocentrism so brilliantly demonstrates: “the universe is created by life and not the other way around.”55 Life-flow is the ground of everything, absolutely everything. There is a similarity between the perceived two ends of the universe, the Divine and the human, just as we should have expected: “Let us create in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves” is how Genesis first described the Creator speaking.56 And the Hebrew even uses the plural pronouns for some wonderful reason.895

We have a lot of catching up to do. The energy in the universe is not in the planets, or in the protons or neutrons, but in the relationship between them. Not in the particles but in the space between them. Not in the cells of organisms but in the way the cells feed and give feedback to one another. Not in any precise definition of the three persons of the Trinity as much as in the relationship between the Three! This is where all the power for infinite renewal is at work: The loving relationship between them. The infinite love between them. The dance itself. In other words, it is an entirely relational universe. If, at any time, we try to stop this flow moving through us, with us, and in us,57 we fall into the true state of sin—and it is truly a state more than a momentary behavior. Sin is the state of being closed down, shut off, blocked, and thus resisting the eternal flow that we’re meant to be. By a hardened heart or a cold spirit, by holding another person apart in hatred, you’ve thus cut yourself off from the flow. Jesus therefore criticizes the religious leaders who want to condemn the woman caught in adultery much more than the woman herself. Jesus’ words to the murderous, religious bean counters in John 8 forever stand as a rather wholesale critique of all stone-throwing, and they locate sin where we would rather not see it. The divine flow either flows both in and out, or it is not flowing at all. The Law of Flow is simple, and Jesus states it in many formulations, such as “Happy are the merciful; they shall have mercy shown to them.”58 Sin is always a refusal of mutuality and a closing down into separateness.908

Vulnerability Did you ever imagine that what we call “vulnerability” might just be the key to ongoing growth? In my experience, healthily vulnerable people use every occasion to expand, change, and grow. Yet it is a risky position to live undefended, in a kind of constant openness to the other—because it would mean others could sometimes actually wound you (from vulnus, “wound”). But only if we choose to take this risk do we also allow the exact opposite possibility: the other might also gift you, free you, and even love you.966

This, then, seems to be the work of the Spirit: to keep you growing is to keep you vulnerable to life and love itself. Notice that the major metaphors for the Spirit are always dynamic, energetic, and moving: elusive wind, descending dove, falling fire, and flowing water. Spirit-led people never stop growing and changing and recognizing the new moment of opportunity. How strange to think that so much of religion became a worship of the status quo, until you remember that the one thing the ego hates and fears more than anything else is change. What, then, is the path to holiness? It’s the same as the path to wholeness. And we are never “there” yet. We are always just in the river. Don’t try to push the river or make the river happen; it is already happening, and you cannot stop it. All you can do is recognize it, enjoy it, and ever more fully allow it to carry you.977

This is the great surprise, and for some a disappointment: this divine flow has very little to do with you.984

The touchable ones are the healed ones; it’s pretty much that simple.992

Do you want to be healed? If the answer is a vulnerable, trusting, or confident one, the flow always happens, and the person is healed. Try to disprove me on that! And believe it or not, it’s much harder to allow this touch and to surrender to this flow than it is to have a strong moral stance on this or that, or to believe doctrines about this, that, or the other, which is surely why the unconverted person falls to these lower levels instead of just staying trustfully in the always-vulnerable river of life.994

Weak Wisdom Let’s stay with this matter of vulnerability for a moment, and even its less-flattering synonym: weakness. “Weak” isn’t a trait any of us wish to be associated with, and yet the apostle Paul describes no less than God having weakness! Paul says that “God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”63 How could God be weak? We are in a new ballpark here. Let’s admit that we admire strength and importance. We admire self-sufficiency, autonomy, the self-made person. This is surely the American way. This weakness of God, as Paul calls it, is not something we admire or want to imitate. Maybe this has been part of our resistance to this mystery of Trinity. Human strength I would describe as self-sufficiency. God’s weakness I would describe as inter-being. Inter-being is a different way of standing in the world than the self-made person stands. Human strength admires holding on. There is something positive about this; it’s not all wrong. But the irony is, this mystery is much more about letting go, which looks—let’s admit it—first of all like weakness to us, not like strength. We’re almost embarrassed by this mystery of Trinity; maybe that’s why we haven’t unpackaged it. Human strength admires autonomy; God’s mystery rests in mutuality. We like control; God, it seems, loves vulnerability. In fact, if Jesus is the image of God, then God is much better described as “Absolute Vulnerability Between Three” than “All-mighty One.” Yet how many Christian prayers begin with some form of “Almighty God”? If you’re immersed in the Trinitarian mystery, you must equally say “All-Vulnerable God,” too! But Brené Brown’s popularity notwithstanding,64 vulnerability isn’t admired in our culture, is it? Could a truly vulnerable candidate easily be elected president of the United States? I doubt it. It seems like a prerequisite to appear like you know more than you really do; this impresses us for some reason. If we haven’t touched and united with the vulnerable place within us, we’re normally projecting seeming invulnerability outside. This seems to be particularly true of men, as many years of giving male initiation rites taught me.65 Human strength wants to promote, project, and protect a clear sense of self-identity and autonomy and not inter-being or interface. “I know who I am,” we love to say. And yet we have this Father, Son, and Holy Spirit operating out of a received identity given by another. “I am Son only in relationship to Father, and he gives me my who-ness, my being.” We admire needing no one; apparently, the Trinity admires needing. Needing everything—total communion with all things and all being (although needing may be in a metaphorical sense). We’re practiced at hiding and self-protecting, not at showing all our cards. God seems to be into total disclosure. Human strength is defined in asserting boundaries. God, it seems, is in the business of dissolving boundaries. So we enter into paradox—what’s Three is one and what’s One is three. We just can’t resolve that, and so we confuse unity with uniformity. God endlessly creates and allows diversity. All you need to do is look at the animal world, the world under the sea, hidden little insects, or all the human beings in a grocery store—who of you looks alike? God clearly loves diversity. In all creation, is there any evidence to show that God is into uniformity? We like it because it gives the ego a sense of control—a false one. And so we constantly substitute uniformity for unity, obedience for love, and conformity for true loyalty to our deepest identity—which takes much more confidence and courage. The mystery that we’re talking about here is clearly diversity on display! The Three are diverse, different, and distinct—and yet they are one.1003

Brené Brown’s wonderful research and teaching about vulnerability? Find your way to brenebrown.com immediately! 65. The initiation of young males, usually between the ages of 13–17, was the absolute norm in almost all indigenous cultures on all continents until this began to fall apart in the last couple of centuries. Here was the universal assumption: If the male is not made to walk journeys of powerlessness, you can assume he will almost always abuse any power that he attains. Such individualism and power-seeking was toxic for the survival of any tribe or community. Thus, “rites of passage” assured at least some degree of humility, vulnerability, interiority, and spirituality in the male, who usually avoids all of these if he possibly can. Today, the male initiation community I cofounded continues to flourish as Illuman (Illuman.org). See also the worldwide ManKind Project (ManKindProject.org) and its women’s corollary, Woman Within (WomanWithin.org).1044

God’s goal, it seems to me, is the same in creation. It is the making of persons, not the making of a uniform mob, which means there is clear diversity and a kind of what I’m going to call open-endedness in all of nature, and to the very nature of this creation. In other words, heaven is precisely not uniformity. Because we did not honor Trinity, many Christians were totally unprepared for any notion of evolution—again forcing many would-be believers into quite sincere atheism. The diversity of heaven was never something I considered in my earlier years. I thought we were all handed the same white robe and standard-issue harp, assigned to an identical cloud for all eternity. But how does Jesus deconstruct this big-box, strip-mall, McHeaven franchise? He tells us: “In my Father’s house are many mansions.”66 What a contrast! Even in the eternal nature of things, you’re somehow you in your you-ness, on the path that God is leading you on, the journey you are going through, the burdens that you are bearing. All of these are combining to create the precise alchemy of your soul, your holiness, and your response. In the eternal scheme of things, we discover that all God wants from you is you. It’s just so humbling, because it always feels like not enough, doesn’t it? “All I want to do is be like Saint Francis,” I said to my spiritual director, over and over, for my first decade as a Franciscan. Finally, one day, he said, “Hey Richard, you’re not, and you’re never going to be, Francis of Assisi. You’re not even close, all right? You’re ‘unfortunately’ Richard Rohr from Kansas.” I said to myself, This doesn’t sound nearly as dramatic or exciting. Except when I realized: all God wants is Richard from Kansas. But that’s what I don’t know how to give you, God! It feels so insignificant, and yet this is the liberating secret: I am precisely the gift God wants—in full and humble surrender. There is unity between the path taken and the destination where we finally arrive. Saints are not uniform but are each unique creations of grace according to the journey God has led them through. This is God’s great risk of freedom: allowing us the freedom to do our own thing. The scandal of grace is that God will even defer—talk about self-emptying!—to using these mistaken dead ends in our favor. This is the ultimate turnaround of love: each of us is our own beauty, a freely-created, grace-sculpted beauty—what1058

That we’ve come to God through tragedy, not by doing things right but invariably by doing things wrong, is a gift. We’ve learned so much more by our mistakes than we ever have by our successes. In the men’s rite of passage work that I’ve done, I tell the men on the last night before initiation that success has nothing—absolutely nothing—to teach you spiritually after age thirty. It just feels good. That’s all. Everything you learn at my age—in my seventies now—is by failure, humiliation, and suffering; things falling apart. Dissolution is the only thing that allows the soul to go to a deeper place. So why do I dare say this is true and not fear that you’re going to call me some cheap secular humanist? How do I know that this quixotic, winding-road character of holiness is not just my wishful thinking? Precisely because of this Trinity code. It reveals a pattern of perfect freedom in relationship whereby each person allows the other to be themselves, and yet remains in perfect given-ness toward the other, not withholding from other-ness. Contemporary Franciscan, scholar, and teacher Ilia Delio asks if we can reframe our entire understanding of God, freedom, and relationship along evolutionary, Trinitarian lines:   Can we understand the Trinity as an infinite emergent process? In this respect, change is not contrary to God; rather, change is integral to God because God is love and love is constantly transcending itself toward greater union.… The dynamic life of the Trinity as ever newness in love means that every divine relationship is a new beginning because every divine person is a transcendent horizon of love. Being is transcendence in love, and God’s Being in love is eternally free.67   Here we find the pattern that allows us to create authentic community and authentic unity, celebrating authentic freedom. I know those of us who are Americans love this word freedom, but I don’t think we understand it in its full-blown spiritual sense, which asks much more of us than, for example, protecting boundaries from terrorists. True spiritual freedom is only attained, as far as I can see, by one who sleeps and rests inside God’s perfect freedom. Diversity is created and maintained in Trinitarian love. Freedom is created and maintained in Trinitarian love. Union is not destroyed by diversity or by freedom.1085

Ilia Delio, The Emergent Christ (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2011), 4–5.1107

The World in a Word A Trinitarian person who is in formation is someone being freed of narcissism’s chains. A partner in the divine dance is someone who agrees to stand in the mutual relationship that God is—the relationship that God has already drawn us into gratuitously. As Lay Cistercian and teacher Carl McColman puts it: God is in us, because we are in Christ. As members of the mystical body, Christians actually partake in the divine nature of the Trinity. We do not merely watch the dance, we dance the dance. We join hands with Christ and the Spirit flows through us and between us and our feet move always in the loving embrace of the Father. In that we are members of the mystical body of Christ, we see the joyful love of the Father through the eyes of the Son. And with every breath, we breathe the Holy Spirit.68   But hand-taking, embracing, and breathing-with aren’t often immediately attractive to us! Vulnerability, letting go, total disclosure, surrender—these don’t come easily in the cultural waters we’re swimming in. Culture is built on a movement toward empire, toward aggrandizement of the group, toward making itself number one—this creates the interior conflict that Scripture already describes as the conflict between the world and the Spirit. And please understand that in the New Testament, the oft-used word world doesn’t refer to creation. The best interpretation would be the “system.” This system is the way we structure reality, and it’s almost always going to be diametrically opposed to the mystery of the Trinity. You can see why the most Jesus hoped for—and why we say you can’t understand Jesus without the Trinity—is that his group become a “little flock.”69 Today, we call it “critical mass.” The Gospels call it “the Twelve.”70 Jesus calls it “leaven,”71 or “yeast.”72 He seems to have the patience and humility to trust a slow, leavening process. This is quite different from any notion of empire or “Christendom,” which always relies upon the use of power. There’s no evidence Jesus ever expected his little movement to take over the world—that is, the “system”—but instead that there’d be just enough people living into this kind of mutuality to be the leaven in the dough keeping this entire creation from total delusion and self-destruction.1108

see that luminous presence everywhere else. If you can’t see that, you’re not very saved, in my opinion. Your seeing and allowing does not match God’s.1135

there’s good news: you can give up all condemnation for Lent and leave your antagonisms in the empty tomb! The more light and goodness you can see, the more Trinitarian you are. When you can see as Jesus and my father St. Francis see, you see divine light in everyone, especially in those who are different, who are “other,” who are sinners, wounded, lepers, and lame—in those, as Scripture seems to indicate, where God shows up the best. Mother Teresa summed this up beautifully, in ways Eucharistic and kenotic:   We [the Missionaries of Charity] are called to be contemplatives in the heart of the world by: Seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, everywhere, all the time, and seeing His hand in every happening. Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.73   The degree to which you can see the divine image where you’d rather not tells me how fully the divine image is now operative within you. Your life is no longer your own. You are instead a two-way reflecting mirror.1138

Trinitarian revelation says start with the loving—and this is the new definition of being! There is now a hidden faithfulness at the heart of the universe. Everything is now positioned to transform all of our lead into gold;1160

We certainly want to preserve a sense of transcendent greatness in God. I know that God is well beyond me, or God would not be any kind of God I could respect. But if this idea of Trinity is the shape of God, and Incarnation is true, then a more honest and truly helpful geometrical figure would be (as we have seen) a circle or even a spiral, and not a pyramid. Let the circle dance rearrange your Christian imagination. No more “old man with a white beard on a throne,” please! This Trinitarian flow is like the rise and fall of tides on a shore. All reality can now be pictured as an Infinite Outflowing that empowers and generates an Eternal Infolding. This eternal flow is echoed in history by the Incarnate Christ and the Indwelling Spirit. And as Meister Eckhart and other mystics say in other ways, the infolding always corresponds to the outflowing. (I love the German word for Trinity, Dreifaltigheit, which literally means “the three infoldings.”) The foundational good news is that creation and humanity have been drawn into this flow! We are not outsiders or spectators76 but inherently part of the divine dance. Some mystics who were on real journeys of prayer took this message to its consistent conclusion: creation is thus “the fourth person of the Blessed Trinity”! Once more, the divine dance isn’t a closed circle—we’re all invited! As the independent scholar, teacher, and fishing-lure designer C. Baxter Kruger puts it:   The stunning truth is that this triune God, in amazing and lavish love, determined to open the circle and share the Trinitarian life with others. This is the one, eternal and abiding reason for the creation of the world and of human life. There is no other God, no other will of God, no second plan, no hidden agenda for human beings. Before the creation of the world, the Father, Son and Spirit set their love upon us and planned to bring us to share and know and experience the Trinitarian life itself. Unto this end the cosmos was called into being, and the human race was fashioned, and Adam and Eve were given a place in the coming of Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son himself, in and through whom the dream of our adoption would be accomplished.771169

This even fits the “dynamic” metaphysical principle that “the interweaving of the three [always] produces a fourth” on another level.781189

this is the fourth place pictured and reserved as a mirror in Andrei Rublev’s fifteenth-century icon of the Trinity. For those in on this open secret, their human nature has a definitive direction and dignity…a Source and a self-confidence that you just can’t get in any other way. You know that your worth is not about you personally or individually doing it right on your own; instead, your humanity is just a matter of allowing and loving the divine flow, which Christians usually call the Holy Spirit. Life becomes a matter of showing up and saying yes. Frankly, a Trinitarian spirituality is much more of a corporate, historical, and social notion of salvation, which was always much more appreciated in the Eastern church than in the West. We will talk more about the “heresy” of Western individualism later. Once God included us in the divine flow—both outward and inward—all we can really do is opt out, refusing to participate.79 And sadly, that possibility must logically be preserved, or free will means nothing. And love can only thrive and expand inside of perfect freedom.801192

Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Dare We Hope “That All Men Be Saved”? (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988) and David Burnfield, Patristic Universalism, 2nd ed. (privately published; printed by CreateSpace, Charleston, SC, 2016). These are only two of the many books that are demonstrating that the supposed heresy disparagingly called “universalism” by many Christians was a rather common belief in the early Eastern church and even the Scriptures.1210

As I have expressed, this divine dance takes on a centripetal force, pulling the energy in, but then it becomes this centrifugal force, moving the energy out—and that is our universe: everything; no exceptions. Everything came forth from this divine dance, and our new appreciation of Trinity is giving us a new grounding for interfaith understanding. It’s giving us a marvelous new basis for appreciating how this mystery is embedded as the code: not just in our religious constructs, but in everything that exists. If there is only one God, and if there is one pattern to this God, then the wonderful thing is that we can expect to find that pattern everywhere. I believe one reason so many theologians are interested in Trinity right now is that we’re finding quantum physics, biology, and cosmology are finally at a level of development that our understanding of everything from atoms to galaxies to organisms is affirming, confirming, and allowing us to use the old Trinitarian language, and now with a whole new level of appreciation. A whole new level of, “My God! It just might be true!” Imagine this: the deepest intuitions of our poets and mystics and Holy Writ are aligning with findings on the leading edges of science and empirical discovery. When inner and outer worlds converge like this, something beautiful is afoot—the reversal of a centuries-long lovers’ quarrel between science and spirituality, mind and heart. What physicists and contemplatives alike are confirming is that the foundational nature of reality is relational; everything is in relationship with everything else. As a central Christian mystery, we’ve been saying this from the very beginning while still utterly failing to grasp its meaning.1215

Start with the mystery of relationship and relatedness; this is where the power is! It’s exactly what the atomic scientists and astrophysicists are telling us today.1238

Perhaps the most audacious contradiction of all is Oppenheimer’s embrace of a kind of shadow trinity as the very name of his test site. I cannot help but recall the dark places where Christianity, under the influence of empire, has lost its way. When not ignoring Trinity altogether, we’ve instead debased our telling of this Three-in-One as a command-and-control caricature: distinct from the biblical Trinity or mystical Trinity, this is a hierarchical delegation where a single-minded father-ruler demands that an expediently-dispatched son use immense power (or force) to batter and break humanity. Tragically, this is the vision of God that wins out all too often. And—from abusive relationships to the creation of astonishing weapons of mass destruction—this vision has consequences. Oppenheimer wasn’t blind to these consequences. It seems he feared that in breaking open the atom, they enacted an undoing or reversal of trinity, destabilizing the tripartite atom and disrupting the source code of reality. It’s no wonder that, upon witnessing its awful first blast, he immediately invoked the Hindu deity Vishnu, quoting from the Bhagavad Gita, “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”84 Our imaginations, applied to worlds “above” and “below,” can be used for such potent life and death.85 This is part of the mystery of freedom that God grants us. This particular mystery of exploding power, as atomic scientists have told me, is not found in the protons. It’s not found in the electrons, or neutrons either. Believe it or not, the explosive power is found in the interaction between them. It’s called nuclear power, and it can change everything.1267

from the “Great Chain of Being” to the “Nested Holarchy of Being,” as the philosopher Ken Wilber puts it,88 we can rightly speak of As within, so without. If all reality is a holon and has a fractal character, as physicists are also telling us, then each part contains and mirrors the whole. If the cosmos as we know it originates from a “big bang”—from a “Let there be”—that means that one point just explodes with life and gives birth to the many lives. When does this many cease to be one? When did this one ever not contain the many? Never! This is what the relational pattern of the universe is teaching us, from Godhead to geochemistry and everything in between.1291

How do we practice this presence—of reality? Scientists and mystics alike will tell us: Be present! Experiment! Stay curious. This is Contemplation 101. Let go of what you “think” is your intelligence center—because what you think is your intelligence cannot understand the atom, cannot understand the galaxies, and cannot understand what is birthing and animating all existence. This momentous truth can occasionally be caught but not easily taught. We’re standing in the middle of an awesome mystery—life itself!—and the only appropriate response before this mystery is humility. If we’re resolved that this is where we want to go—into the mystery, not to hold God and reality but to let God and reality hold us—then I think religion is finally in its proper and appropriate place.1301

See Ken Wilber, “From the Great Chain of Being to Postmodernism in Three Easy Steps” (2006), 2, 4, www.kenwilber.com/Writings/PDF/FromGC2PM_GENERAL_2005_NN.pdf.1321

When we built on Aristotle’s belief that substance is a higher and preferred category than relationship (to put it another way, that nouns are better than verbs), we inherited an absolutely non-Trinitarian notion of the human person that was autonomous, static, and without a metaphysical capacity for union with our own beings, much less the divine nature of God.89 In this metaphysically hamstrung version of reality, we were not created in “the image and likeness of God,” after all!1324

Boethius (480–524), whose Consolations of Philosophy had great influence throughout the entire medieval period, acted as a sort of bridge between classical Western culture and Christianity. He defined the human being as “an individual substance of a rational nature,” and in some ways this definition has persisted to this day. There is no evidence Boethius was influenced by the doctrine of the Trinity, and it shows. What thus won out in our entire Western anthropology was human individuality and human rationality, instead of foundational relationality and an honoring of the intuitive nature of the human person, which is healthy religion’s natural habitat. A Trinitarian theology would have told us that human personhood is a subsistent relation at its core, generating, in fact, relationships of unconditional love with the same standing as the persons of the Trinity. This is precisely the best description of what we mean when we quote Genesis to say that we are created “in the image and likeness of God.” But we did not build on this Trinitarian grounding. The fallout of privileging “substance” over relationship is difficult to overestimate. The entire subsequent tradition had a very hard time giving any solid, inherent foundation to the meaning of divine union, holiness, salvation, or even incarnation. This is a huge price to pay; the consequence is an eviscerated Christian theology, a hollowed-out shell known for little else than a soft and sentiment-laden worldview.1334

Scotus and Merton: Time to Re-verb In order to be vital, we must be able to demonstrate a metaphysical core for Christian spirituality and holiness—not merely a behavioral, psychological, or moral one. A Trinitarian metaphysic provides just such a vibrant and inherent core. Trinity is and must be our stable, rooted identity that does not come and go, rise and fall. This is the rock of salvation. And of course, it’s so interesting that this stable root is rather perfectly mirrored in the three particles of every atom orbiting and cycling around one another—the basic physical building block of the universe. What happens if these atoms are intentionally destabilized? Precisely a bomb of death and destruction. In many permutations that have led us to modern individualism, most Christians still have retained a more “pagan” understanding of the human person, almost totally reversing the original Trinitarian use of the word person—as one who is a dynamic sounding-through—to an autonomous self that, at the end of the day, is kin to nothing. What would it look like to rebuild on a Trinitarian metaphysic and recreate a truly human full personhood? It would start by recognizing that each person is created by God as unique and irreplaceable—one to whom God has transferred and communicated God’s divine image in relationship, and who can, in turn, communicate and reflect that image to other created beings. Each and every one of us. Merton discovered this solid grounding in a Trinitarian and “personalist” philosophy and theology in the work of a thirteenth-century Franciscan philosopher-theologian, John Duns Scotus. A deep-dive into Scotus allowed Merton to move to the heights of contemplative awareness. Most do not get to enjoy this core; salvation and holiness become just a wish, a hope, at best a verbal affirmation that “I and the Father are one.” But all too often—in contemporary religion and spirituality alike—we have no basis in consistent, fleshed-out thinking to really believe this. Thus the vast majority of Christians have not been able to overcome the gap between divine personhood and human personhood. It largely became a matter of trying to overcome it by a magical notion of sacraments if you were Catholic or Orthodox, or a transactional notion of “strong belief” or moral behavior if you were Protestant. But in either case, there was no inherent capacity for divine union that could be evoked and built upon in our very soul. Thus, it was consistently a very unstable core for most Christians, often degenerated into a kind of make-believe, if we’re honest. The Perfect Freedom of God This solid core of a soul, entirely relationally created, is fully known and fully loved only in God—and even as God, as daring as this sounds.1350

All human personhood implies a process of coming to be in love! Sin is every refusal to move in the direction of our deepest identity as love. Any definition of the person as a substance instead of a relationship tends to leave out the movement, growth, and mutual mirroring that moves us forth in existence.1394

just like the Trinity, we are not a substance, but a relationship. Always in the process of being loved and passing along love.1405

Creative Continuation Daniel Walsh, who was Merton’s primary philosophy teacher, says he’s not sure if the human person can even legitimately be called a creation, because we are a continuance, an emanation from, a subsistent relation with that we call Trinity.91 We are in continuity with God somehow, and not a separate creation. We are “chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world,” as Ephesians puts it.92 Mature Christianity is thus an invitation to share in the personal life of God, a dynamic of generated love forever continued in space and time through God’s creatures. Thus, God’s self-knowledge includes knowledge of us, and God’s self-love includes love of us. They are the same knowing, the same loving, and the same freedom. Yes, in some sense we become an “other” that can be seen as a separate object from God, but from God’s side we are always known and loved subject to subject, just as the persons of the Trinity know and love one another. God and the human person must know (and can know) one another center to center, subject to subject—and never subject to object. This is the perhaps the clearest way to describe God’s unconditional acceptance of us, forgiveness of our mistakes, and mercy toward us in all circumstances: We are never an object to God. God cannot but love God’s image in us. So a fully Christian theology and philosophy of the human person must say that human personhood originates in the divine Logos, the eternal Christ, as imitations and reflections of God’s relationship to Godself. We are constituted by the same relationship that exists between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! “The end for which the human person is created is to manifest the Truth of Christ in the love God has for himself in his Divine Trinity,” Daniel Walsh says in his lectures to the monks. This is the theology of personhood upon which Thomas Merton builds his monumental worldview, and which we can, too. Divine Personhood and human personhood are reciprocal, mutually-mirroring concepts. God’s nature as relationship creates ours, and ours is constituted by this same bond, which is infinite openness and capacity to love. We must know that we are in fact objectively loveable to really be able to love ourselves. That is what Divine Personhood assures and guarantees. Your false self is not ready for unconditional love. Love and respect, yes. But not unconditional love—only conditional love. This becomes Merton’s foundation for what he calls the True Self, which is always, objectively, and forever completely loveable—all ephemera notwithstanding. I believe this was supposed to be the foundational good news of the gospel, the rock of salvation—a basis for human personhood that does not vacillate and cannot fail. Jesus is announcing with his words and exemplifying with his Table and teaching alike that human persons are created inside of the substantial and infinite love of the Trinity. You cannot “get” to such a place; you can only rest and rejoice in such a place.   91. Daniel Walsh, unpublished notes from his teaching at the Gethsemani monastery. Walsh taught regularly at the monastery from the late 1950s to the early 1960s. 92. See Ephesians 1:4.1412

The doctrine of the Trinity was largely shelved as an embarrassing abstraction—even by most preachers, teachers, and theologians. God was diminished, and we all lost out. Jesus alone was forced to carry the entire drama of liberation, which he could do, it seems; but there was always a much bigger foundation, frame, dynamic, and energy missing from the salvation equation. Here’s how Julian of Norwich experienced this reality, all the way back in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England:   The Trinity suddenly filled my heart with the greatest joy. And I understood that in heaven it will be like that for ever for those who come there. For the Trinity is God, God is the Trinity; the Trinity is our maker and protector, the Trinity is our dear friend for ever, our everlasting joy and bliss, through our Lord Jesus Christ. And this was shown in the first revelation, and in all of them; for it seems to me that where Jesus is spoken of, the Holy Trinity is to be understood.93   We cannot separate Jesus from the Trinity. Yet the average person in the pews never had a chance to enjoy the much bigger economy of grace. We swam around in a small pool called scarcity, which is now evident in most of our stingy, hoarding politics and economics. Even our old catechisms said that the “theological virtues” of faith, hope, and love, which were said to be the nature of Divine Being, were offered to us as “a sharing in the very life of God.” These, it was argued in the medieval church, were not first of all gifts to individuals but gifts to society, history, and humanity as a whole.94 This is prefigured in two great thinkers in the Church, Augustine and Aquinas, who argued that the virtue of hope applies first of all to the collective before the individual. Yet we tried to generate hope in the isolated individual, while leaving him and her adrift in a cosmos, society, and humanity that was heading toward hopelessness and punishment. It is very hard for individuals to enjoy faith, hope, and love, or even to preach faith, hope, and love—which alone last95—unless society itself first enjoys faith, hope, and love in some collective way. This is much of our problem today; we have not given the world any message of cosmic hope, but only threatening messages of Apocalypse and Armageddon. God as Trinity gives hope to society as a whole, because it is based on the very nature of existence itself and not on the up-and-down behaviors of individuals, which are always unstable.1449

Marketing experts say children (and dogs) are even more effective than sex in advertising. Why? Because children and dogs are still filled with a natural hope and expectation that their smile will be returned. They tend to make direct eye contact, looking right into you, just grinning away (unless, of course, they have been abused). This is pure being. This is uninhibited flow. Surely, this is why Jesus told us to be like children. There is nothing stopping the pure flow in a child or a dog, and that’s why any of us who have an ounce of eros, humanity, or love in us are defenseless against such unguarded presence. You can only with great effort resist kissing a wide-eyed baby or petting an earnest dog. You want to pull them to yourself with love because they are, for a moment—forgive me—“God”! Or is it the other way around? Is it you who have become “God” by standing in such an unresisted flow? Both are true, of course. We see this flow in the attraction of all beauty, in all admiring, in all ecstasy, in all solidarity with any suffering. Anyone who fully allows the flow will see the divine image even in places that have become ugly or undone. This is the universal seeing of the Trinity. “Anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.”961473

God, as I expressed earlier, is actually inter-being, which many Buddhists are freer to say than we are. What irony! Yet we know truth is one, so it should not surprise or disappoint us. We were the ones who should have been taught via Trinity that God was not a being, surely not an isolated anything—which, of course, implies that all creatures proceeding from such a Source are inter-beings, also. This shines light on our fascination with sexuality, with all things beautiful, with nature, with animals, with music and art; we are naturally drawn to lovely things outside and beyond ourselves, and we want to rush toward them and unite with them in almost any way—some ways that work and some that frankly don’t (which we might call addictive behavior or “sin”). Henceforth, you can know and love God on at least three distinctly wonderful levels: the Transpersonal level (“Father”), the Personal level (“Jesus”), and the Impersonal level (“Holy Spirit”). If you are interested, this rather perfectly corresponds to what Ken Wilber and others call “the One Two Three of God.”971489

our triune God is a riot of expression, transcending and including any possible labels. The all-important thing is that the Three are formed and identified by the outpouring and uninhibited flow itself. The flow forms and protects the Three, and the Three distribute the flow. It’s precisely this same dynamic for a healthy society, isn’t it?1524

But we tend to dwell in extremes. In much of the West today, it’s either intense individualism (in both its progressive and conservative forms)—making the common good a lost and impossible ideal; or people live in mindless collectives, tribalism, and groupthink—where too many people lack any healthy autonomy or personal individuation (again in both progressive and conservative formats, which shows us this common way of seeing offers us two bogus criteria for truth). So how can we preserve deep and true values across the spectrum? This is invariably the question. Honestly, without trying to be esoteric, the Trinity gives us a rather ideal paradigm, model, and invitation. A way through that could be applied to so many problematic and political issues.108 Let’s again try. The word person as we use it today, meaning a separate human individual, is not really found in the Hebrew Bible. But the idea of “face” is. Hebrew authors wanted to convey the effect of “interface” with their YHWH God who sought to intimately communicate with them: “May God let his face shine upon you, and may his face give you peace.”109 This same usage is found in several psalms,110 where it is often translated as presence, meaning more precisely communicated presence—a transference of selfhood from one to another. In the Greek translations of the Bible that we have, the noun used for “face” was prosopon, literally referring to the stage masks that Greek actors wore. This seemed to serve as both an enlarged identity and a megaphone. Teachers like Tertullian and the Cappadocian Fathers used similar language, in Latin persona, preserving the full freedom and identity of what were eventually called the three “persons” of the Trinity—who are nevertheless a perfect and total communion. Each member of the Trinity was considered a persona, or “face,” of God. Each person of the Trinity fully communicated its face and goodness to the other, while fully maintaining its own facial identity within itself. Each person of the Trinity “sounded through” (per sonare) the other. Ironically, person is now our word for the autonomous human being, but originally it meant almost exactly the opposite. Each of the Three knew they were soundings-through from the other two. Identity was both maintained and fully shared, which frankly is what makes any mature love possible. Every good psychologist would agree. We are each a sounding-through of something much more and even of Someone Else, and that becomes our self. Yet we are a stage mask, a face, receiving and also revealing our shared DNA, our ancestors, and our past culture. This has formed our very understanding of what we now call a “person.” Again, ironically, what first implied that all identity was shared now means the exact opposite—a separate individual is now called a “person,” and we do not commonly honor the fact that we are all “soundings-through”! This simple distortion has made the first Catholic moral principle of “the common good” almost an impossible ideal. Think of your own experience: how many people do you know, including yourself, who are really in this divine dance with an appropriate and balanced degree of self-love and self-giving? It is the very definition of psychological maturity. And it is indeed a dance, where we all make a lot of missteps. Insofar as an appropriate degree of self-love is received, held, enjoyed, trusted, and participated in, this is the same degree to which it can be given away to the rest of the world. You can and you must “love your neighbor as you love yourself”—for your own wholeness and theirs. The Golden Rule is also the gold standard for all growth and development. We learned it from the Trinity. This is the never-ending dance: the movement in and out, of receiving and handing on. And remember, if it’s not flowing out of you, it’s probably because you’re not allowing it to flow toward you. And love can flow toward you in every moment: through the image in a flower, in a grain of sand, in a wisp of cloud,…1528

Dave Andrews, an Australian teacher, theologian, activist, and community organizer, has written an invaluable community formation resource based on a deep understanding of Trinitarian relationship. It’s difficult to find in North America, but see his Compassionate Community Work Course at www.daveandrews.com.au/ccwc.html.1580

As the nineteenth-century poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning put it, “Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God.”111 All is whole and holy in the very seeing, because you are standing inside the One Flow of Love without the negative pushback of doubting.112 This is all that there really is. Call it Consciousness, call it God, call it Love; this is the Ground of all Being out of which all things—and especially all good things—come.113 It’s an allowing; it’s a deep seeing; it’s an enjoying. It is the Creative Force of the universe. The river is already flowing, and you are in it whether you are enjoying it or not. So what is your “flow” right now? Are you sucking in or flowing out? Are you defending or opening up? Is it negative energy or life energy that controls this day? Are you over-defensive, or can you be vulnerable before the next moment? These are two utterly different directions and energies, and you must learn to tell the difference within yourself. Otherwise, you will not know what to pray for, what you actually need, and who you really are in any one moment.114 All of your raw material for right-seeing is within you—because in the Holy Spirit you have your inner “Advocate” and “Defense Attorney.”115 The Spirit is your implanted placeholder who teaches you how to pray, how to hope, and how to love. As Paul so honestly says, “We do not know how to pray.”116 You just have to let go of whatever it is within you that is saying no to the flow, judging it as impossible, or of any shame that is keeping the Indwelling Spirit from guiding you, because guess what? Even your sins often become your best teachers. The Great Flow makes use of everything, absolutely everything. Even your mistakes will be used in your favor, if you allow them to be. That’s how good God is.1599

Jesus messes everything up! What does he do? He consistently makes the outsider the heroes of his parables and the recipients of God’s multifaceted grace. To not recognize and learn from this is culpable ignorance at this point. By and large, we didn’t get it. Catholicism replicated almost down to fine detail the ritual and legalistic mistakes of Judaism, and Protestantism has imitated us quite well, while trying to cover their tracks by just getting legalistic about very different issues. But it is the same ego game. And one could easily argue that our fellow Abrahamic path, Islam, has followed suit in mirroring our most egregious members-only behavior. Because that’s where immature religion always finds itself; it isn’t first of all a search for Holy Mystery and how to love. Most early religion is a search for the egoic self, a search for the moral high ground, and certainly for being better than those other people over there. To draw from Karl Rahner again, he suggested that for fifty years we should all basically stop using the word God. Because, he says, we normally don’t have a clue what we are talking about!1650

Emptiness Alone Is Prepared for Fullness To make the above subhead real, let me quote from one of the earliest hymns of the church:   His state was divine yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself.117   Could this first stanza of the great Philippian hymn, in its fullness, be applied not only to Jesus but also perhaps to the entire Trinity? I believe so. The Three all live as an eternal and generous self-emptying, the Greek word being kenosis. If you’re protecting yourself, if you’re securing your own image and identity, then you’re still holding on. Your ego remains full of itself. The opposite of kenosis.1666

one! All is absolutely given to the other and let go of; but for the sake of our mind, it’s helpful to identify three persons. When all three of those divine qualities start drawing you, and when you’re at home with Infinity, Imminence, and Intimacy—all Three—I think you’re finally living inside a full Trinitarian spirituality. This is God’s lifetime, lifelong work in you. I hope this does not surprise or disappoint you, but I have often noticed these divine qualities in people who are marginalized, oppressed, “poor,” or “mentally disabled”—more than in many others. They have to trust love. They need communion. They know that only the vulnerable people understand them. They profit from mutuality. They’re always in relationship. They find little ways to serve their community, to serve the sick, to serve those poorer than themselves. They know that only a suffering God can save them. You can take such a pattern as the infallible sign that one lives in God. People filled with the flow will always move away from any need to protect their own power and will be drawn to the powerless, the edge, the bottom, the plain, and the simple. They have all the power they need—and it always overflows, and like water seeks the lowest crevices to fill.1678

it’s that this third force redeems each position and gives everyone a valuable role to play in the creation of something genuinely new—a fourth possibility that becomes the new field of our collective arising. As I once spent an entire book offering to anyone with ears to hear, everything belongs. This is what we can expect to not just believe as an idea, but experience in practice. If we embrace the life of Trinity at work in all creation, we sit invited at Rublev’s lovely round table: The magic of three breaks us out of our dualistic impasses, and always invites a fourth world for us to enter into.1736

But you know what I believe? I think the spaces in between the members of the Trinity are unmistakably feminine. The forms or manifestations strike me as the masculine dimension, and the diffused, intuitive, mysterious, and wonderful unconscious in-between, that’s the feminine. And that’s where the essential power is—the space between the persons more than the persons individually.1757

as long as you start unpackaging, proclaiming, teaching, and understanding the spaces in between, the relationships, the movement of the dance itself between the three persons, which for me is the underlying feminine dimension of God. This is where the generativity seems to happen—where Hildegard’s veriditas, or new life, seems to happen. As the scientific principle of William of Ockham’s “Razor” suggests (one of our lesser-known Franciscan luminaries), the truest answer will usually be both simple and elegant; I find simplicity and elegance in this explanation. So take it into your prayer; walk inside of this masculine/feminine polarity and dance and see if you’re not renewed. History up to now has very seldom found the lovely balance.1765

Trinity says that God’s power is not domination, threat, or coercion, but instead is of a totally different nature, one that even Jesus’ followers have not yet adjusted to. If the Father does not dominate the Son, and the Son does not dominate the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit does not dominate the Father or the Son, then there’s no domination in God. All divine power is shared power, which should have entirely changed Christian politics and relationships. There’s no seeking of power over in the Trinity, but only power with—a giving away, a sharing, a letting go, and thus an infinity of trust and mutuality. This has the power to change all relationships: in marriage, in culture, and even in international relations. YHWH already tried to teach such servanthood to Israel in the four “servant songs” in order to train them in being “light to all nations,”122 but their history predicted what Christianity repeated: we both preferred kings and empires instead of any suffering servanthood. Power, according to the Jesus of the Trinity, is not something to be “grasped at.”123 I, Richard, don’t need to cling to my title, my uniform, my authorship, or whatever other trappings I use to make myself feel powerful and important. Waking up inside the Trinitarian dance, I realize that all of this is rather unimportant, in fact often pretense and show that keep me from my True Self. It just gets in the way of honesty and vulnerability and community. We all already have our power (dynamis) within us and between us—in fact, Jesus assures us that we are “clothed” in it!124 It seems to me that the only people who can handle power are those who don’t need it too much, those who can equally let go of it and share it. In fact, I’d say that at this difficult moment in history, the only people who can handle power are those who have made journeys through powerlessness. Most others seem to abuse it, according to the received wisdom of universally practiced male initiation rites.125 “Uninitiated” males who too easily acquire power invariably use it for their own purposes of advancement, and seldom for the common good. This hardly needs proof anymore—only love can handle power well. Trinity, the primal and ultimate Sourcer, begins creation by releasing that which empowers everything else: “Let there be light”!126 Light is not really what you see; it is that by which you see everything else. God is the Great Empowerer, taking the forms of inherent grace and constant evolution. Trinity is so humble that it does not seem to care who gets the credit. Like light, you do not see God; but God allows you to see everything else through really good eyes. This power isn’t solitary, either, but shared—reflecting Trinity. As Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf names it:   Because the Christian God is not a lonely God, but rather a communion of three persons, faith leads human beings into the divine communion. One cannot, however, have a self-enclosed communion with the triune God—a “foursome,” as it were—for the Christian God is not a private deity. Communion with this God is at once also communion with those others who have entrusted themselves in faith to the same God. Hence one and the same act of faith places a person into a new relationship both with God and with all others who stand in communion with God.127   You’ve got to know, however, that shared initiation is not the language of corporate America or of most cultures. This is not the language of the 1 percent, who so often “train” us in how to be and what we ought to want. We have to be taught this deeper wisdom right now, or civilization will continue in its rapid downward spiral. Surrender, yielding, trusting, and giving are never going to appeal to the ego. Yet we ignore such embedded wisdom at our impending peril. The life of faith is not at all “believing impossible things to be true”; actually, it is a much more vigilant path of learning how to rest in an Ultimate Love and how to rest in an Infinite Source. On a very practical…1789

Inside the Trinitarian life, you will begin to enjoy what some physicists now call “quantum entanglement” and what others call synchronicity, coincidence, or accident. When you doubt even the possibility of such things, you’ve just stopped the flow! But if you stay on this path of allowing and trusting, the Spirit in you will allow you to confidently surrender: There’s a reason for this. I’m living as the River flows, carried by the surprise of its/my unfolding. I am being led. Cool it. It’s okay!1834

Please don’t hear me as adopting a fatalistic approach, as though you can’t work to change or improve your situation. In fact it’s quite the contrary—you can. But I am saying that what first comes to your heart and soul must be a yes and not a no, trust instead of resistance. And when you can lead with your yeses, and allow yourself to see God in all moments, you’ll recognize that such energy is never wasted but always generates life and light. The saints often called this trust in Divine Providence.1839

For God to be good, God can be one. For God to be loving, God has to be two. Because love is always a relationship, right? But for God to “share excellent joy” and “delight”—and this is where his real breakthrough is—God has to be three, because supreme happiness is when two persons share their common delight in a third something—together.1281857

Two people excited about the same thing are the beginning of almost everything new, creative, and risky in our world. Surely this is what Jesus meant by his first and most basic definition of church as “two or three gathered.”129 So as we’ve said, we’re moving from a binary map of reality into a ternary map—reality reflecting a pattern of law and a pattern of three.130 I think every one of us has a certain resistance to a ternary map because our whole lives have been formed by binary oppositions. We think in that way. In my book The Naked Now, I call it the “dualistic mind.” Most people fight back and forth between either/or binaries—just look at our political parties. The one with the loudest voice appears to win, but then you always go away dissatisfied, feeling you have been cheated. And you have been. At the Center for Action and Contemplation, we try to practice what we call Third Way approaches to conflict, problem-solving, and creativity. You almost have to let “the two” fail you. You almost have to die to them. You almost have to be willing to be disappointed in both of them. But what most people do—I think to reassure their egos and their need to be right—is to take a stand mightily on one side and make a god out of their ideology, religion, or partial truth. But this comes at such a cost! It’s such a defeat for intelligence, for wisdom, for depth, for truth. Stridently taking sides in a binary system has nothing to do with truth. The gospel itself is neither liberal nor conservative but severely critiques both sides of this false choice. The true good news of Jesus will never fill stadiums, because dualistic masses can never collectively embrace an enlightened “Third Way,” which, contemplatively speaking, always feels a bit like nothing, because in this position you are indeed like Jesus—you have “no place to lay your head.”131 Just like the mystery of the Father. Just like the crucifixion of the Son. Just like the anonymity of the Spirit. There are commonly two kinds of human beings: there are people who want certitude and there are people who want understanding; and these two cannot understand one another! Really. Those who demand certitude out of life will insist on it even if it doesn’t fit the facts. Logic has nothing to do with it. Truth has nothing to do with it. “Don’t bother me with the truth—I’ve already come to my conclusion!” If you need certitude, you will come to your conclusion. You will surround yourself with your conclusion. The very meaning of faith stands in stark contrast to this mind-set. Do you know why I think Jesus (or any of the Three) is actually dangerous if taken outside of the Trinity? It’s because we then ill-define faith as a very static concept instead of a dynamic and flowing one. We’ve turned faith into a right to certitude when, in fact, this Trinitarian mystery is whispering quite the opposite: we have to live in exquisite, terrible humility before reality. In this space, God gives us a spirit of questing, a desire for understanding; it seems to me it’s only this ongoing search for understanding that will create compassionate people—and wise people. If you think you have a right to certitude, then show me where the gospel ever promised you that or offered you that. The New Testament itself is written in a language Jesus never spoke. If God wanted us to have evidence, rational proof, and perfect clarity, the incarnation of Jesus would have been delayed till the invention of audio recorders and video cameras. Rational certitude is exactly what the Scriptures do not offer us. They offer us something much better and an entirely different way of knowing: an intimate relationship, a dark journey, a path where we must discover for ourselves that grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness are absolutely necessary for survival—in an always and forever uncertain world. You only need enough clarity and ground to know how to live without certitude! Yes, we really are saved by faith. People who live in this way never stop growing, are…1867

this flow will always be characterized by two seemingly contradictory things. First, you’re going to be constantly yearning and longing for more, the way the Three endlessly desire to give themselves and flow outward. It’s a kind of sacred discontent, a holy dissatisfaction, and a holy desire for more life, love, and generativity.1925

In the life of the Trinity, you can always rest inside a certain kind of deep contentment: it’s all foundationally good and okay. This moment is as perfect as it can be, and I do not need to state my preferences moment by moment, make my judgments or demands, or write my commentary on everything. The judging mind keeps me split and divided from union. This is surely what Paul is referring to when he says of the Christ that “his nature is all Yes.”133 This is the peace the world cannot give nor take away.134 If a person is not fundamentally resting in the Eternal Sabbath, they are not yet living inside the Trinitarian flow. There’s good news here: all emotional snags, temptations, and mental disruptions are the negative capability for this very peace; they invite you to choose again, and each time, you increase your freedom. Trust me on that. A Trinitarian life is able, therefore, to hold a beautiful kind of creative tension in this world: not afraid to be dependent, while also not afraid to be self-sufficient; able to be self and able to be other—all modeled in the standing lesson of the Trinity. Returning to our thirteenth-century Franciscan philosopher-theologian John Duns Scotus, he called this the harmony of goodness: true love for the self always overflows into love for the other; it is one and the same flow. And your freedom to extend love to others always gives you a sense of dignity and power of your own self. It is such a paradox.1933

You cannot know things if you don’t first of all grant them a foundational respect, if you don’t love them before you grab them with your mind. This is surely what Genesis warns us against from the beginning, in archetypal Eden:136 you’ll eat voraciously from that forbidden tree of knowledge before you know how to respect and honor what you are eating, which creates very entitled and proud people. All of life becomes a commodity for our consumption. Paul summarizes this pattern well: “Knowledge puffs up, whereas love builds up. Some may think they have full knowledge of something yet not know it as they ought to know things.”137 Godly knowing is a humble and non-grasping kind of knowledge; it becomes a beautiful process of communion instead of ammunition and power over. It is basically reverence! Knowing without loving is frankly dangerous for the soul and for society. You’ll critique most everything you encounter and even have the hubris to call this mode of reflexive cynicism “thinking” (whereas it’s really your ego’s narcissistic reaction to the moment). You’ll position things too quickly as inferior or superior, “with me” or “against me,” and most of the time you’ll be wrong. To eat of the tree that promises to give you divine knowledge of good and evil is the tree of death.138 All human knowing is “imperfect” and “[seen] through a glass, darkly,”139 and must necessarily be held with humility and patience. Yet God takes the freedom and immense risk of allowing us to “eat of all the trees in the garden.”140 We are even allowed to “pick from the tree of life too, and eat and live for ever.”141 The only ones who “must not be allowed to eat” of this tree are precisely those who arrogantly think they are “like one of us in knowing good from evil.”142 This is the basic human hubris. An amazing insight! The Genesis text seems to know that such arrogant human knowing will never lead to life for humans, but only death. (Don’t let anyone tell you that the creation accounts in Genesis are not profoundly inspired. Note that YHWH again uses the plural in referring to Godself (“one of us”), which is quite amazing in a monotheistic religion. We live in a world where naked knowledge of facts is allowed to have all the sway and all the say. We have many knowledgeable people with doctoral degrees, and technocrats with huge amounts of information. But we have such precious little ability to use this knowledge surplus for the good of the world, or anything really but private superiority. They’re probably not bad people at all; but what they might lack is the awareness that all being, modeled on the Trinity, is “good, true, and beautiful” (in Scholastic philosophy, these are called the “three transcendental qualities of being”), and therefore always loveable on some level. This was John Duns Scotus’s doctrine of “the univocity of being,” which became the continuing Franciscan opinion.143 We can speak of all levels of being with “one voice”—from plants, to animals, to humans, to God. I hope you recognize what a breakthrough that is for all poets, mystics, and seers: all is entirely lovable even before it is fully knowable. (The opposite “Dominican” opinion taught that things must be known as true before they can be loved.)1950

Body-Based Knowing We are called to embody the love of God in our lives. Not just talk about it or think about it or pray about it. We must live it in our guts, our muscles, our hearts, our eyes, our ears, and our tongues. We manifest that love when we share the ordinary rhythm of life with others who are likewise seeking to grow in love and compassion. Such love naturally expresses itself communally, even within God: Christians recognize in God a trinity of persons, traditionally called the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; it is their self-giving love for one another that, in Dante’s words, “moves the sun and other stars.”144   The basic “sacramental principle” is this: we can know spiritual things through the physical world and bodily actions.1989

the very ritual says that we can know something in our body—that our body has to be reminded in whose “name” it lives and moves and has its being.146 Some call this “kinesthetic knowing” or even muscle memory. In the centuries and cultures before most people could read or write, this was undoubtedly how most people knew reality on a cellular, bodily level. But let’s look at the movement, starting with the head—which is, I think, an unfortunate place to begin, but also notice that we move away from it. The name of the Father is the starting place. And then we pull our hand to our belly, down across our heart and chest. …and of the Son encompasses creation—the physical, the seemingly “lower” material world. And then we cross this line with the entire world of variety and differentiation from shoulder to shoulder, with…and of the Holy Spirit. The meaning of this embodied gesture is actually quite clear and precise. I now exist under and within a new name—not my Richard name, but my Trinitarian identity. I am marked and signed, indeed! We stand inside of this wholeness. It really is a marvelous piece of body prayer. Again, if you’re not from a tradition that makes this sign, try it. If you’re used to doing it in a mindless and perfunctory way, try letting the rote go and breathe through it each step of the way, as I’ve just shared it. Trinitarian theology has great power to move you out of the head and into the flow, and that is better experienced in our bodies and hearts.2013

Let me give you another illustration of this. Around the year 2000, near the final days of my Lenten hermitage, and after almost forty days of solitude, the inner flow, happiness, and aliveness became very rich and real for me. I felt like I was being perpetually healed and expanded. I recalled a lesser-known poem of the nineteenth-century priest and poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. In “The Golden Echo,” he writes:   Deliver it, early now, long before death, Give beauty back, beauty, beauty, beauty, back to God, beauty’s self and beauty’s giver.147 And in another place: This, all this beauty blooming, This, all this freshness fuming, Give God while worth consuming.148   I knew Hopkins was almost perfectly naming my own experience, as should be expected if we were both inhabited by the same wondrous flow. And each remaining morning and evening, I took a long walk down a steep hill and then back up again—but now backward, so I could gaze out with delight at the expansive desert valley in front of me, the various cacti covered with spring flowers. I learned to set my breath to the words of the poem: “beauty” on the exhalation and “back” on the inhalation, occasionally stopping to recite these verses in their entirety.2027

know you really are okay and the world is okay, too. This is what it means to be captured by the Triune flow. John of the Cross speaks of being awakened by the same delight, caught in the same great being, and breathing the same air as Jesus.149 We can enjoy the same thing that Jesus enjoyed. Why not?2047

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.151   We’re all united to God, but only some of us know it. Most of us deny it and doubt it. It’s just—frankly—too good to be true. That’s why they call it good news. But it can’t be this good, can it? Yeah, that’s where it gets its name and reputation as good news. Here’s a deeper cut on why we’re so resistant: to accept that you are accepted is ironically experienced in the first moment (take my word on this) as a loss of power! The ego wants to be self-made, not other-made, which is our whole problem with grace. If grace is true, dear reader, and if we’re all saved by the mercy of God, then why do we constantly try to create certain cutoff points?2084

God does not love you because you are good. God loves you because God is good.2099

Our egoic selves don’t know how to wrap around this reality; it feels like a loss of power because—darn it all—there’s nothing I can do now to pull myself up and make myself a step ahead of the rest of you! At that point, that’s the ego talking. It wants to prove that it earns this grace—the only problem is, as Paul says in Ephesians 2:4–10, grace is then no longer grace. You have dissolved the entire chemistry of mutuality known as grace2101

Being part of this cosmic dance can only be known experientially.2112

to lead you to a place of nakedness and vulnerability where your ego identity falls away, where your explanations don’t mean anything, where your superiority doesn’t matter. You have to sit there in your naked who-ness.2114

Early-twentieth-century teacher P. D. Ouspensky invited us to “divide in [ourselves] the mechanical from the conscious, see how little there is of the conscious, how seldom it works, and how strong is the mechanical: mechanical attitudes, mechanical intentions, mechanical thoughts, mechanical desires.” Most of our deepest gifts and deepest wounds lie in our unconscious; only prayer forms that touch us there do much good. A Trinitarian way of entering this invitation would be to renew your mind through the observing awareness of “the Helper” (Spirit) to see what’s on autopilot within you, relying on the Father to give you the upgraded consciousness inherent in the mind of Christ!155 Let’s try to unpack this. There are many ways to describe this underlying reality of awareness, letting go, and how to enter the flow. There are so many good teachers emerging today who use different vocabulary, but who each are teaching us how to rest in this quiet holding place that watches the mental commentary rush by and also lets go of it.1562135

Contemplation is learning how to abide in and with the Witnessing Presence planted within you, which of course is the Holy Spirit,160 almost perfectly symbolized by the ark of the covenant. If you keep “guard,” like two cherubim, over the dangerous, open-ended space of your transient feelings and thoughts,161 you will indeed be seated on the mercy seat, where God dwells in the Spirit. The passing flotsam and jetsam on your stream of consciousness will then have little power to trap or imprison you.2153

All I can give back to God, and all that God wants, is what God has first given to me: this little moment of incarnation, my little “I am” that echoes the great and eternal I Am in grateful awareness.2216

If God is the great I Am, then we would have to say that evil/Satan is the “I Am Not” who forever accuses others (Satan = the Accuser), denies humans their substance (the “Father of Lies”), and makes negation, opposition, and the creation of separateness his primary task.172 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!173 Please reflect on this. The positive, loving, and non-argumentative savoring of the moment is called contemplation. Brazilian liberation theologian Leonardo Boff gives us an invitation to rejoin the great dance—not only of Trinity, but also of creation:   Creation exists in order to welcome the Trinity into itself. The Trinity seeks to welcome creation within itself.… [Realizing their divinity], men and women will reveal the motherly and fatherly face of God in communion, now including the Trinity with creation and creation with the Trinity. It is the feast of the redeemed; it is the heavenly dance of those set free. It is the shared life of the sons and daughters in the home and homeland of the Trinity as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.… This entire universe, these stars above our head, these forests, these birds, these insects, these rivers, and these stones, everything, everything, is…preserved, transfigured, and made temple of the Blessed Trinity. And we…live in a grand house, as in a single family, minerals, vegetables, animals, and humans with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.174   So join me, sisters and brothers, now and for the rest of your life, in allowing this positive flow of Life, marking and blessing your body consciously and slowly—with what is already happening within you: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Amen.2218

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.)1752265

moments, relationships, and ideas in a readied and vulnerable way, allowing even the Beyond to show itself if it wants to, your likelihood of experiencing the Beyond substantially increases. Even quantum physics and biology now insist that the observer necessarily changes the content and results of an experiment.2300

Contemplation is training you to see the overlooked wholeness in all things.2303

Really, it’s only God in us that understands the things of God.180 We must take this very seriously and know how it operates in us, with us, for us, and as us.2319

Most things that we call experience are actually just additions or passing stimulation. To make matters worse, we imprison them inside of the experiences we already have; that’s why most people don’t grow very much. Most of us then default to one of a handful of templates and filters for all their experiences; everything gets pulled inside of what my little mind already agrees with. This cannot get you very far at all.2323

we have not moved doctrine and dogma to the level of inner experience. As long as “received teaching” doesn’t become experiential knowledge, we’re going to continue creating a high quantity of disillusioned ex-believers. Or on the flip-side, we’ll manufacture very rigid believers who simply hold on to doctrines in very dry, dead ways with nothing going on inside. And so we have two big groups on the landscape today: those who throw out the baby with the bathwater (many liberals and academics)—and those who seem to have drowned in the bathwater (many conservatives and fundamentalists). How about allowing the bath water to keep flowing over you and through you? It is anyway, but we can considerably help the process by gradually opening up the water faucets—both the cold and the hot.2334

When you allow yourself to be led into awe and wonder, when you find yourself in an aha! moment and you savor it consciously (remember that joy and happiness take a minimum of fifteen conscious seconds to imprint on your neurons), then you can have a genuinely new experience; otherwise, you will fit everything back into your old paradigm, and it won’t really be an experience at all. It will at best be a passing diversion, a momentary distraction from your common “cruise control” of thoughts and feelings.2349

The other path that programs us for genuinely new experience—although at great cost, and with the risk of closing down the soul—is suffering. It must surely be worth the risk, since it comes into every life, necessarily, it seems, and with regularity—provided we don’t invest in too many insurance policies against it.2360

mystics like Teilhard de Chardin come along and teach that “the [very] physical structure of the universe is love.”181 All this orbiting, exploding, expanding, and even contracting is Infinite Love at work.182 Everything you have ever seen with your eyes is the self-emptying of God into multitudinous physical and visible forms. In other words, Infinity is forever limiting itself into finite expressions, and this could even be called the “suffering” of God. The Christ learned this self-emptying, or kenosis,183 from his eternal life in the Trinity. It is not just Jesus who suffers, but the cross is the visible symbol of what is always going on inside of God! Think on this. It should be enough to make anyone love the Christian message. No2388

Having little patience with (or appreciation for) mystery, as well as so little humility or basic love for groups other than our own (never mind nonhuman creation), maybe our Christian religion in its present formulation has to die for a truly cosmic and love-centered spiritual path to be born. I sincerely wonder if this might be true.2403

Trinitarian spirituality leads us to an open-handed embrace of the whole—no exceptions. This is the circle of freedom, certainly, but it’s also a circle of suffering. The negative side dare not be eliminated.186 Everything belongs. As a first-century letter to friends of God puts it:   Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from the Spirit. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.1872417

Teresa of Ávila, the sixteenth-century Spanish Carmelite teacher who was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970 due to her keen insight and spirit for reform. She said this:   My soul began to enkindle, and it seemed to me I knew clearly in an intellectual vision that the entire Blessed Trinity was present…all three Persons were represented distinctly in my soul and that they spoke to me, telling me that from this day I would see an improvement in myself in respect to three things and that each one of these Persons would grant me a favor: one, the favor of charity; another, the favor of being able to suffer gladly; and the third, the favor of experiencing this charity with an enkindling in the soul….It seems those three Persons, being only one God, were so fixed within my soul that I saw that were such divine company to continue it would be impossible not to be recollected.189   This communion, participation, and solidarity with the mystery becomes so deep that a second exemplar, Etty Hillesum, wrote to this effect while she was at Westerbork transit camp,2437

All this suffering is somehow your suffering, and I want to participate with you in it.190 We all find ourselves falling tragically short of abundant life, in spite of all our comfort-seeking. We find, much to our disappointment, that there’s nothing in it. We all eventually discover that our hearts and souls will not be fed at the trough of self-seeking. God is not “once upon a time”—God is “the never-ending story” in which we are scripted!191 This is scary-good news, from which we can consciously draw freedom and meaning. It seems we can actually cooperate with God, creating spaces of freedom in the heart of the world. Paul even spoke of it as “working together with,” or co-creation.192 When she was at Westerbork in the midst of tremendous suffering, Etty Hillesum lived an astonishing existence of peace, love, and communion with God. She created little spaces of freedom for herself and for others. She found the deepest meaning of life. This is full reality, so full it can include the downside. Etty Hillesum was completely operating in God, and even as God, in her suffering. She was full-blown in the cycle of the mystery, drawn into a life larger than her own. She might not even have understood why she would think or say such an illogical thing as I somehow want to suffer with you, God. It’s not that we masochistically seek pain or suffering, but when we encounter suffering, we find our capacity growing if we stay connected to the flow. Obviously, even then we have to block out a certain degree of raw suffering for self-care. We can’t take it all in, but apparently God can. That’s the visual of the cross—God taking in all the pain of history. You don’t have to take it all in, but don’t block it entirely. Let pain bring its gift of vulnerability. Let some of it change you. Let some of it call you outside your comfort zone to this bigger place where we all are one. In a way, there is only one suffering and one cosmic sadness, and it is the very suffering of God. And we all share in it. Such an empathetic plunge into solidarity with God and humanity can never proceed from mere theological theory; it has been seen by many saints as a vocation, an invitation, and even a privilege. I find this solidarity even more impressive when heard through the voices of those who didn’t at first take it up as a vocation and certainly not from a place of privilege, those who instead found themselves in social situations where the dominant culture left them disempowered—even oppressed. Listen to this articulation of the Divine Dance from the “underside”:   As beloved triune community, God “dances” to birth human communities torn by suffering, hatred, and division. God empathizes with the oppressed in “blues-filled” experiences and directs their anger creatively and constructively for the sake of justice. In particular, the Spirit who hovered in creation from the beginning of the world is the creative and “life-inspiring relation of God” that makes “a way out of no way possible.” “She” is the relational action of God sent “to create beauty out of ugliness, celebrate life in the midst of suffering, and walk in love in the midst of hate.” As the life-giving relation, the Spirit prophetically seeks to realize human societies in the image of God.1932447

Trinity is the all-in-all God and is thus everywhere without exception; if God could be said to have a favorite place, however, it is always in solidarity with the “other”—those on the margins of power. Black Liberation theologian James Cone puts2476

Taking seriously the Trinitarian view of the Godhead, black theology says that as Creator, God identified with oppressed Israel, participating in the bringing into being of this people; as Redeemer, God became the Oppressed One in order that all may be free from oppression; as Holy Spirit, God continues the work of liberation. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Creator and the Redeemer at work in the forces of liberation in our society today.1942480

What absolute freedom to join the Beloved wherever he is—especially in beloved community, living out the good struggle for increased dignity, harmony, creativity, and liberation. We know that, during his entire life on earth, Jesus went wherever the pain was; his apprentices only follow him.2486

The cross is the standing icon and image of God, showing us that God knows what it’s like to be rejected; God is in solidarity with us in the experience of abandonment; God is not watching the suffering from a safe distance. Somehow, believe it or not, God is in the suffering with us.2515

God’s justice, revealed in the prophets, is always restorative justice, but this takes a transformed consciousness to understand.2519

Read, for example, Ezekiel 16:53–55 where, after reaming out the people of Israel, Ezekiel uses the word “restore” four times in a row, and then “restored” three more times. God “punishes” Israel by loving them even more and at even deeper levels, just as God does with every human soul. This is the biblical theme of restorative justice, but it was just too countercultural to be heard above the nonstop historical drumbeat of retributive justice. The quid pro quo, retributive mind has to break down in order to truly move forward with God. This is the unique job description of grace and undeserved mercy. Mystics are people who allow this new calculus, but it is always an act of surrender and falling. Ezekiel says that Israel will feel “ashamed,” “confused,” and “reduced to silence” when God forgives them for everything they have done.195 Grace and mercy are always a humiliation to the ego. We must accept God’s knowing and loving as the full and final shape of goodness. But you must know that, to the ego, this first feels like losing; and to the “counting” mind, it feels like undeserved mercy. Basically, we have to stop counting, measuring, and weighing. Let me paraphrase 1 John 4:10 in this way: love consists in this—not limiting God by our human equations of love, but allowing God’s infinite love to utterly redefine our own. Whenever we love, we are in some way participating in the very suffering of God, the necessary self-emptying that must precede and make room for every infilling. Yes, we must offer our lives opposing human and planetary suffering, I hope. But paradoxically, we embrace suffering as one vital form of participating in the mystery of the Incarnate One and the healing of the world. We want to take away suffering whenever we can, and we want to lessen human pain whenever possible. We certainly don’t want to impose it, although we all know that we do increase the suffering in the world through our sin and mutual alienation. But somehow, after we’ve done all we can to try to alleviate suffering according to our gifts and callings, we find that we’re led to embracing what is, embracing what is left—and this is often suffering and pain, is it not? Maybe this is the great death, this third space where I refuse to waste the rest of my years in either fight or flight. Where I give up the search for someone to hate or to blame—myself or anybody else. I’m going to somehow enter into solidarity with this pain. I’ll not allow myself to participate in other people’s abandonment, betrayal, rejection, or marginalization. That’s why the saints, the Trinitarian believers, always find ourselves going to the edge, going to the bottom, going to those who are excluded at the margins. Jesus is constantly going to the lepers and those whom society labels “sinners.” How could he have made it any clearer than he did? Once we see this, it becomes much harder for us to fall into that ancient, ubiquitous fear that God causes suffering, which has always been an intellectual stumbling block. On a cross, we find this man who has given his whole life to heal suffering becoming a victim of suffering himself. Instead of being a torturer, a murderer, a tyrant, or an oppressor, Jesus shares in the victimization of humanity; and it’s here that even Jesus experiences his own resurrection. He neither plays the victim nor creates victims. This lays the third path of redemptive suffering before history and eternity. Jesus himself dies and is reborn in this transformative place. The word that most describes this total dynamic of being given to and giving back with total vulnerability on each side is, ironically, the word forgiveness. No wonder two-thirds of Jesus’ teaching is directly or indirectly about forgiveness! To forgive, you have to be able to see the other person—at least momentarily—as a whole person, as an image of the Divine, containing holiness and horror at the same time. In other words, you can’t eliminate the negative. You know they’ve hurt you. You know they…2520

The whole shattering experience of living is avoided whenever we try to make forgiveness into mere legal pardon—like Catholic indulgences or confession, or Protestant transactional theories of salvation. Such an approach reflects a mind-set of, “Let’s do something. Let’s avoid this whole relational vulnerability thing if we can, okay? Let’s just skip out on confidence and surrender.” This kind of religion is not Trinitarian. It’s not participating in the divine dance,2565

When I can stand under the waterfall of infinite mercy and know that I am loved precisely in my unworthiness, then I can easily pass along mercy to you. Check each day how you’re doing with forgiveness, all right? That’s as good a test as any I can think of to see if you’re living inside the incalculable mystery of divine generosity. Do you know what’s even harder to forgive? It’s often the petty things, the accumulating resentments. The little things you know about another person; how they sort of did you wrong yesterday. No big deal, but the ego loves to grab onto those; they build up on the psyche like a repetitive stress injury. I think that in many ways, it’s much harder to let go of these micro-offenses, precisely because they’re so tiny. And so we unconsciously hoard them, and they clog us up. But God is not transactional, and God is not needy. You can trust that God is treating you as you would wish to be treated—letting go of your pettiness, your silliness, your judgmentalism, and your blockages to love—while still seeing you as whole.196 God cannot not see his Son Jesus in you. You are the body of Christ. You are bone of God’s bone, and that’s why God cannot stop loving you. That’s why no amount of effort will make God love you any more than God loves you right now. And despite your best efforts to be terrible, you can’t make God love you any less than God loves you right now. You are in a position of total powerlessness, and your ego is fighting it. All you can do is surrender and enter into this dance of unhindered dialogue, this circle of praise, this web of communion that we call the blessed Trinity.2569

It’s a different-shaped Christianity. It’s a different-shaped cosmology, as it should be if this is the shape of all things, not only of God but of everything else.2586

the only Word of God unequivocally endorsed in the Bible’s pages is Jesus, the eternal Logos. The words on our inspired pages are the words of men and women. In my book Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, I describe the Bible itself as a gradual progression forward.199 You see the narrative arc moving toward an ever-more-developed theology of grace, until Jesus becomes grace personified. But it’s a concept that the psyche is never fully ready for. We resist it, and so you’ll see in most of the biblical text what the late anthropologist Rene Girard calls a “text in travail,” a suffering text. And we must see that is still true in the New Testament, where even John’s statements about God’s unconditional love are still interspersed with many lines that seem to imply a conditional love, too: “If you obey my commandments” is either directly said or implied many times. To grow in the ways of love, I think this shows real genius. Psychologically, humans actually need some conditional love to lead us toward the recognition of and the need for unconditional love. This is much of my assumption in my book Falling Upward.200 We get the promise of free love (grace) now and then, but it is always too much for the mind and heart to believe. The biblical text mirrors both the growth and the resistance of the soul. It falls into the mystery, and then it says, “That just can’t be true.” Scripture is a polyphonic symphony, a conversation with itself, where it plays melodies and dissonance—three steps forward, two steps back. The three steps gradually and finally win out; you see the momentum of our Holy Book and where it is leading history. And the text moves inexorably toward inclusivity, mercy, unconditional love, and forgiveness. I call it the “Jesus hermeneutic.” Just interpret Scripture the way that Jesus did! He ignores, denies, or openly opposes his own Scriptures whenever they are imperialistic, punitive, exclusionary, or tribal.2600

St. Thomas Aquinas taught that the corruption of the best is the worst. So the Bible is capable of great good, but we all understand it at our own stage of emotional and spiritual development. If you are still a black-and-white, rigid thinker who needs certitude and control at every step—well, the Trinity will feel out of reach. Grace shows up where logic breaks down, so you won’t go very far. No matter what passage is given to you, you will interpret it in a stingy, vengeful, controlling way—because that’s the way you do life.2622

Principle of Likeness. Hateful people see hatred everywhere else, have you noticed that? They’re always thinking someone’s out to screw them over, someone’s trying to hurt them. They create problems wherever they go. We call them “high-maintenance” people.2630

This principle of likeness has positive and negative manifestations—what you see over there is what you are in here. Always. Mistrustful people don’t know how to trust themselves or anybody else, and so they lay it on you. The Trinity beautifully undoes this negativity by a totally, totally—and we can’t emphasize the totally enough—a totally positive movement that never reverses its direction.2636

How can you get out of this vicious cycle? Own your projections—those onto other people, those onto your own motives, and perhaps especially those onto God. In reality, God is the divine lure who is most equipped to pull you out of this circle of negativity. But if you ascribe negativity onto God, too, you’re really in trouble spiritually because you’ve got no way out now, without traversing Kubler-Ross’s first four stages of both grief and dying—denial, anger, bargaining, and depression—before you can get to the fifth stage, which is divine acceptance. This now-evident pattern is why so many of our contemporary spiritual teachers say that most of our problems are psychological in their manifestation, but spiritual in their solution. Most Christians of the Middle Ages more easily trusted the spiritual solution than we do, but they seldom had the vocabulary to describe the psychological manifestations as we do today. We articulate the psychological dimensions so well, and in so many ways, that contemporary people are trapped in sophisticated and helpful descriptions of the manifestations but have no One to surrender it all to. There is no Receiver Station, because we jumped off the divine waterwheel and withdrew from the dance. To sum it all up, I do not believe there is any wrath in God whatsoever—it’s theologically impossible when God is Trinity.2647

First, in Luke 4:18–19 (niv), when Jesus reads from the Isaiah scroll, beginning with, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor…” and ending his reading with “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,” he leaves off “and the day of vengeance of our God” as it is in the original passage. (See Isaiah 61:1–2.) Then, rather than proclaim foreigners as the enemies and objects of God’s vengeance, Jesus turns around and praises faithful foreigners from Zarephath and Syria, while reproaching the attitudes of his own fellow “chosen” people. The people become so angry at his selective reading that they try to throw him off a cliff! (See Luke 4:25–30.) For more examples like this, see Michael Hardin’s The Jesus Driven Life: Reconnecting Humanity with Jesus (Lancaster, PA: JDL Press, 2013), rev. and exp. edition, particularly chapter 2, “How Jesus Read His Bible.” For a powerful, semi-fictionalized telling, see Jack Miles’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God (New York: Knopf, 2001). Additionally, in Matthew 5, in Jesus’ well-known Sermon on the Mount, he begins a series of teachings with, “You have heard that it was said…,” summarizing a key, accepted part of the Law, and contrasting it with “But I say to you…,” bringing his own—often subversive—take on it. For more on the sweepingly different vision of Jesus’ most well-known message, see my own Jesus’ Plan for a New World: The Sermon on the Mount (Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1996). For still more examples, see Matthew 12:1–8 and John 5:1–23.2664

We are fearful; God, apparently, is fearless. If the truth is the truth…if God is one…then there’s one reality and there’s one truth.206 You’d think we’d be happy when other religions deduce approximately the same thing, wouldn’t you? But oh, sometimes we get so upset. We don’t know how to recognize friends, and we create enemies for no good reason. Hinduism is probably the oldest still-existing religion on earth, its foundation going back five millennia. In Hindu theology and in the Hindi language, there are three qualities of God—and therefore, of all reality. I heard these words frequently when I was teaching in India some years ago: sat, chit, ananda. I won’t even have to work hard to make the Trinitarian point here; it’s obvious, I am sure: Sat is the word for “being.” God is being itself;2688

Source of all being, whom we call Father. Chit is the word for consciousness or knowledge. God is consciousness itself, mind itself, awareness itself. Does that sound anything like logos? It should. Of course, our biblical concept of logos was drawn from Greek philosophy; the writer of the gospel of John has already done what I’m doing now, drawing from extra-biblical (and extra-Judaic) wisdom.208 Now more than ever, we have to draw from our shared spiritual heritage to better understand our own belief. And, finally, ananda. I met a number of people named Ananda in India. It means happiness—bliss is the way Indians usually translate it. Does this sound like the joy of the Holy Spirit?2698

Inherent, uncreated happiness, which is what you experience when you live without resistance inside the flow. It’s omnidirectional, not determined by any one object that makes you happy. You don’t know where it came from, just as Jesus said of the Spirit.209 You can’t capture it, predict it, or prove it; you can only enjoy it when the dove descends, the wind blows, the fire falls, or the water flows. Like grace itself, ananda is always a gift from “nowhere.” Sat-chit-ananda. Being-knowledge-happiness. Father-Son-Spirit. Truth is one, and universal.2705

Silence: Father The Father is Being itself, the Source of the flow, the Creator—the formless One out of which all form comes. God as “nothingness,” unspeakable Mystery.210 In our contemplative heritage, God the Father is normally experienced best in silence, beyond words or pronunciation, which is exactly what the Jewish people insisted upon.211 This preserves our humility before God so we don’t think that any word will ever comprehend the divine incomprehensibility.212 In the long tradition of Christian mysticism, there were two great strains of knowing that were both needed to keep the believer balanced, humble, and open. The first way of knowing, which was more commonly practiced, was called the kataphatic (seen according to light) or the “positive” way—relying on defined words, clear concepts, pictures, and rituals. Christ as Logos, image, and manifestation embodies this kataphatic, or via positiva, pole. And when religion is healthy, happy, and mystical, the way of light needs to be balanced by the apophatic (against the light) or “negative” way of darkness—knowing beyond words and images through silence, darkness, open space, and releasing the need to know. This via negativa is represented by the Ground of Being, or “Father.” The apophatic has largely disappeared in the last five hundred years; almost all congregations, parishes, and ordinary Christians are entirely kataphatic. This has resulted in an eclipse of the “Father.” The great spiritual teachers always balance knowing with not-knowing, light with darkness. Both ways are necessary, and together they create a magnificent form of higher non-dual consciousness called faith. I see this energy between—the healthy interplay between kataphatic and apophatic—as where the Spirit shows up to play. Unfortunately, this dynamism is not often present. The apophatic has almost always been in the minority, as we in civilization are uncomfortable with silence, wonder, and not-knowing.2723

Most of us do not know the ground of silence before speaking, the spaciousness around words, the inner repose after words, the humility that words should require. This was instinctual for our ancient ancestors before the advent of organized agriculture, cities, and civilization—and it is still much more strongly present in First Nations and indigenous cultures where these ancient instincts are better tended.2132747

This is the realm of “the Father”—who cannot be spoken, who cannot be named. God named Father is precisely the Un-manifest, the Great Silence, the Unspeakability of God. We were so anxious to speak words that were infallible and inerrant that we bet all our money on words to get us there, even forgetting that words themselves are always metaphors.2750

God for us is my code word for the Father. That reality is foundationally givenness. Do you understand? Reality is foundationally benevolent; it’s on your side. It’s not a scary universe. That’s why the word Father is a good choice, if you’ve had a good father. A good father is protective of you. And again, this is attested to by the contemplative apophatic and the Hindi sat.2781

This is why the work of initiation in the world today owes an ongoing debt of gratitude to these indigenous and First Nations peoples; to witness a breathtaking look at Christ’s incarnation from an indigenous, initiatory perspective, read The Four Vision Quests of Jesus by Steven Charleston (New York: Morehouse Publishing, 2015). 214. See Sandra Schneiders,2790

The Living Manifestation: The Christ In the second person of the Trinity, we have the visible epiphany of the Unmanifest One. First in the form of creation itself—which is “the Christ” in our shorthand—and secondly in personal form, whom we call “Jesus.” Someone who reverences the first epiphany (apophasis, sat) is surely best prepared to rightly reverence the second—kataphasis, chit. Up to now, we’ve led many people to love Jesus, but many less were led to recognize, honor, and love the Christ. The major future task of Christian theology and practice is to finally join the two together. My prayer understanding of Jesus is God alongside us, the accompanying God who walks with us, especially through the mystery of death and resurrection, of letting go and receiving. Theologians name this pattern the Paschal Mystery; it’s the best direct and concise summary of all Jesus’ teaching and experience. The divine pattern revealed in the Trinity is loss and renewal, self-emptying and living on an expanded level, surrender and receptivity, “death and resurrection,” darkness and light. Life has no real opposite; death is merely a transitioning, which takes trust every time we walk through it. I can probably say that Jesus is often roundly rejected as a serious model because few people want to believe in this pattern, and yet it is the big and redemptive pattern of everything. (I try to present this concept to modern and postmodern audiences in my book Falling Upward.) By and large, what human beings want is resurrection without death, answers without doubt, light without darkness, the conclusion without the process. Maybe you could say we don’t like Jesus when we don’t like reality. We deny chit, consciousness, and we escape into a flight of fantasy, banality, and unreality. Mechanical thinking takes over, and our lives run on autopilot—a spin cycle of passing pleasure and purposeless pain.2795

The Dynamism Within and Between: Holy Spirit And finally: God within us, already promised by the Hebrew prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah, takes on an indwelling character. The unnamable I Am becomes writ large on our hearts, revealing the “down and in” divine characteristic present since the beginning of time. Let’s call the Holy Spirit Implanted Hope. When God as Holy Spirit is missing, I would put it this way: there’s no inner momentum. There’s no élan vital. There’s no inner corrective, no inner aliveness that keeps people from dying from their wounds. When the Spirit is alive in people, they wake up from their mechanical thinking and enter the realm of co-creative power. As in Ezekiel’s vision, the water flows from ankles to knees to waist to neck as the New Earth is hydrated.216 Like Pinocchio, we move from wooden to real. We transform from hurt people hurting other people to wounded healers healing others. Not just individually, but history itself keeps moving forward in this mighty move of Spirit unleashed. It was said in the past that we lived in the age of the Father, and then the age of the Son; according to Joachim of Fiore in the twelfth century, we Franciscans were supposed to inaugurate the age of the Spirit. I don’t think that we did, but why—from this medieval word to the latest prophecies of Great Awakenings and revival—is there this frequent hope that the age of the Spirit is impending? Perhaps what we most need is a shift in perspective, to fully enter into what’s already happening. I believe it has entirely been the Age of the Spirit up till now—history doesn’t stop. Creation just keeps unfolding;217 the evolution of planets, stars, species, and human consciousness has never stopped since the very beginning, but our hierarchical, masculine-without-feminine, and thus static notion of God did not allow us to see it! We now know for certain that the universe is still expanding outward. The Indwelling Spirit is this constant ability of humanity to keep going, to keep recovering from its wounds, to keep hoping and trying again. I think one thing we love so much about young children is their indomitable hope, curiosity, and desire to grow. They fall down, and soon they’re all grins again. Another generation is going to try again to live life to the fullest. But too often, by the time they’re my age they don’t smile so much at all, and we ask, “What happened between six and sixty?” It is always in some form been a loss of Spirit, because if the Holy Spirit is alive within you, you will always keep smiling, despite every setback. This is the sheer joy of ananda.2814

It’s God in you that loves God. It’s God through you that recognizes God. It’s God for you that assures you it is all finally and forever okay. Now you’re living inside the Trinitarian flow.2911

When I want to pray, I ask, “What is God desiring in me now?” If the response that arises doesn’t display some of the fruits of the Holy Spirit as Paul lists them—“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness [“faithfulness” niv, nkjv], gentleness, and self-control”—I doubt if that’s the prayer of the Spirit.2927

there are only two things strong enough to keep you inside the dance of life: Great love and great suffering. These open you to your deepest, truest nature. They keep you in the circle instead of climbing pyramids.3086

http://www.earlychurchtexts.com/public/augustine_sermon_272_eucharist.htm. I first saw a translation of this passage cited in Rebecca Ann Parker and Rita Nakashima Brock, Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2009), 144. This book is a fresh, breathtaking look at the first thousand years of church history from “below.” See savingparadise.net.3092

sin is elegantly simple to understand: sin is whatever stops the flow. Call it hatred, call it unforgiveness, call it negativity, call it violence, call it victimhood—all the things Jesus warns us against in the Sermon on the Mount.232 You just can’t afford to do these things. They are death, always death, although God will even use these deaths in your favor, if you will allow it, leading to “negative capability.”3098

We are not punished for our sins—we are punished by our sins! This is why Jesus commanded us to love. You must love. You must, or you won’t know the basics. You won’t know God, you won’t know yourself, and you won’t know the divine dance. And some kind of suffering is always the price and proof of love. We all know this is many times more work than obeying the Ten Commandments. I hope you obey the Ten Commandments—I’m all for it. But it’s ten times more important to live moment by moment in communion, staying in the positive flow and noting all negative resistance. This is your contemplative practice, which we originally just called prayer. Flowing people heal just by being there. Sinful people, according to how we have here described sin, tear down just by being there. So from this more spacious place, let’s again acknowledge:   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.3114

the early meaning of “theologian” among the Desert Fathers and Mothers was simply someone who truly prayed, not a brilliant mental gymnast? A theologian was one who understood these inner movements, subtle energies, and interconnections. In fact, a theologian was not trusted unless he or she was, first of all, a man or woman of prayer. Frankly, the head does dangerous and stupid things when it hijacks our nervous system. To operate out of a head disconnected from gut and heart is to court disconnection—even disaster. But it’s instinctual to our species to be connected. I think creation is endowed with a natural order accessible to us precisely because we, the observers of creation, are essentially made in the same image as the observed. There’s a principle of likeness between the observer and the observed. All cognition is re-cognition. You see it because it’s already you. You know it over there because you already know it here, at the deepest level of your being. The best feedback I get from readers is, “Richard, you didn’t teach me anything totally new; the words are different, but somehow in my deepest intuition I already knew what you’re saying.”3135

If I’m not sparking recognition in you, I don’t think I’m teaching in the Spirit. Because it’s only the Spirit in me that knows what the Spirit in you knows, and we’re both trying to hone back to that same center. The Trinity—and its generative effect, love—is the true “theory of everything.” Everybody is searching for this unifying theory lately. Triune love, it seems to me, is the resolution piece that helps us to understand, to let go, and to stand secure in the world, in the same relational way that we find God in Godself standing.3148

Behind every mistaken event is a mistaken image—a mistaken understanding of God.3218

Fewer of us were taught how to humbly receive the same divine generosity. But when there is no flow inward, it is usually impossible to sustain the flow outward.3222

Let me share an astounding bit of poetry from Meister Eckhart, the wonderful fourteenth-century German Dominican mystic:   Do you want to know what goes on in the core of the Trinity? I will tell you. In the core of the Trinity the Father laughs and gives birth to the Son. The Son laughs back at the Father and gives birth to the Spirit. The whole Trinity laughs and gives birth to us.236   God has done only one constant thing since the beginning of time: God has always, forever, and without hesitation loved “the Son,” understood in this sense as creation, the material universe, you, me—and yes, you can equally and fittingly use “the Daughter.” Remember, the quality of the relationship is the point,3224

God cannot not love his universally-begotten child in you, and the “part” of you that already knows and enjoys this is the indwelling Spirit. And do you know that the flow is also in both directions? The divine child also “creates” the Father as Father—as any parent can attest. A parent is not truly a parent until the child returns the flow.3232

Anything less than this laughter, liking, delighting, and loving—the world simply doesn’t have time for! And neither do you. The world is now repositioned on a totally positive ground and foundation. The bankrupt, sad storyline of guilt, shame, reward, and punishment never got Western civilization very far anyway. When you start in a hole, you never really get out of the hole. But when you start with original blessing, life only grows bigger and always much better.   236. Matthew Fox, trans. and ed., Meditations with Meister Eckhart (Rochester, VT: Bear and Company, 1983), 129.3237

There’s so much about this poem that resonates with me, but especially the phrase “I swayed out on the wildest wave alive.” I think we’re all swaying on this wave, whether we know it or not. Whether it’s conscious or unconscious, what has drawn you to these pages is bringing this mystery of the Trinitarian flow—the wildest wave alive—to ever-higher levels of consciousness. It isn’t enough to merely know that this wave is flowing through us; Spirit actually delights in it! The foundation of authentic Christian spirituality is not fear, but joy.3250

Christian, this is it: simply one who is consciously drawing upon their Source.3262

Paul made it very clear in Romans and Galatians that obeying commandments will not lead you to the experience of God. And yet I would bet 85 percent of Christians still think they’re going to come to God by doing it right. There’s no evidence that this works. In fact, quite the contrary. This preoccupation with being right and doing it right usually creates—forgive me for being so blunt—anal-retentive personalities. They’re usually judgmental, preoccupied with themselves, and very often not in love with God, in love with life, or in love with their fellow humans. Because you can obey commandments without being in the wildest wave alive. Ego can do that, self can do that; but God alone can bring us into this flow of Trinity.3266

Real Presence You can’t be present with your mind alone; the mind replays the past and frets about the future most of the time. It does not know how to be present without including the heart, the body, and the soul.3274

Communion. We were very good at maintaining that end of the spectrum, a belief in the objective presence of God in the material, physical world. Catholicism, much better than our Protestant brothers and sisters, takes Incarnation to its logical conclusions—without fully realizing it, I might add. “If God is present in people, in history, in creation,” a Catholic or Orthodox believer might wonder, “then why not also extend real presence to focus, resistance, and hopeful surrender in the lowest, humblest, and yet universal, elemental foods of bread and wine?” If we cannot accept Presence in this piece of earth, then why should we accept it in ourselves or others? How could we? It is one and the same act of faith and leap of logic. Here Incarnation has gone full length and breadth. But do you know what none of us did very well? We didn’t teach our people how to be present here and there and everywhere, and unless we are present before the Presence, there is no Real Presence for us. Presence, like all true prayer—like Trinity itself—is all about “interface knowing,” which I called mirroring earlier in the book. That for me is the reform of all religion.3279

Being and Becoming Thus, if God the Father is the Un-manifest, then the Christ is the original movement into Manifestation, and you might say that the Holy Spirit is the Knower and Reminder of the universal Manifestation. The more open you are to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and invitations, the wider your seeing becomes. Now we have the basis for a very grounded eco-spirituality. Now we have the basis for the goodness and importance of all creation, and not just the human species. Here we have a very Franciscan spirituality of appreciation for the entire length and breadth of the great chain of being: animals and everything that’s created, such as rocks, water, and plants. All manifest reality is out-flowing from this mystery, and as our mystic St. Bonaventure taught, everything is thus a footprint and a fingerprint revealing the nature of God.238 How different would our history, and our religious history, have been if we had known this and allowed it to be true? If Trinity is the inner pattern of God, then Jesus—to say it one more time—is the outer, visible pattern, which contains a big surprise and frankly a disappointment for us: Loss and renewal, loss and renewal. Death as the price of resurrection. Remember that even our sun is dying, and it’s just one minor star in a galaxy of much larger stars. It’s dying to itself to the tune of six hundred million tons of hydrogen per second. The sun is constantly dying, while also giving life to our solar system and to every single thing that lives on our planet. That’s the pattern. Nothing lives long-term without dying in its present form. Death is not the opposite of life, but the full process of life. Life has no opposite! That’s why the early Mothers and Fathers of the Church would say a most daring thing. They would say—and this might be shocking to you reading this—that even God suffers. Jesus is the suffering and dying of God visible for all to see.   238. See Bonaventure’s classic text Journey of the Mind into God (Itinerarium Mentis ad Deum).3290

Our God is much more properly called all-vulnerable than almighty, which we should have understood by the constant metaphor of “Lamb of God” found throughout the New Testament.3318

But once you experience this changing of the gods, you have a solid and attractive basis for Christianity as a path—a mystical and dynamic Christianity concerned about restorative justice and reconciliation at every level, here and now. All you have to do today is walk outside and gaze at one leaf, long and lovingly, until you know, really know, that this leaf is a participation in the eternal being of God. It’s enough to create ecstasy. It is not the inherent dignity of the object that matters; it is the dignity of your relationship to the object that matters—that transforms object to subject, as Martin Buber famously put it, shifting from an I-It orientation to the world to an I-Thou relationship.239 For a true contemplative, a green tree works just as well as a golden tabernacle.3324

All creatures naturally allow and inherently communicate this ecstasy—except for the human species. We discriminate, decide, qualify, and dissociate almost all whom we look at instead of loving them as they are. We’re the only ones who deprive ourselves of essential ecstasy. If you doubt this, just watch your dog. Dogs don’t stop the ecstasy. You get tired of them jumping up and licking you, but they don’t. It’s pure, unadulterated, fascinated enjoyment being a dog, apparently.3333

There’s only one species that resists being what it is, and that’s us. Ironically, we’re resisting our own happiness. This is God’s suffering: that the one species whom God gave free will to has used it to say no to itself, and thus no to most other things, too. This is negative mirroring. If you refuse the ecstasy, you also bequeath the refusal. That is probably what we mean by sin. We largely refuse ecstasy via our mind games, our mental explanations, our theories, and our theological nit-picking. Yes, God gave you your own remote control, just as we imagined Zeus to be operating earth by remote control. You can use yours to change to any channel you want. You can even use it to exit the whole system. I guess this is why almost all religions felt it necessary to posit the logical possibility of something like hell.240 Trinity proclaims that God is no remote-controller but instead lovingly operates from within. Its utter relational given-ness says that humans do have a remote control, granting us more power than we’ve ever imagined.3343

Every Christian church has in its own way: various flavors of debt codes, worthiness codes, test cases, ritual requirements, and achievement goals. I want to say this as strongly as I can: If you’re caught up in these numbing-out schemes, you’re missing the core message of the gospel. You cannot earn something you already have. You cannot achieve something that is already freely and totally given to you. A Trinitarian spirituality leaves guilt and shame in the dust, re-centering Christianity on—dare I say it—realization and rest. What finally motivates you in this spiritual life is gratitude, never fear. Even duty and obligation work well only in the short run; in the long term, they create—forgive me again—anal-retentive people. I have seen them in monasteries, in morning Masses, and in mosques all over the world. But now you know that the waterwheel is ever turning, always forward, and animated by the river itself. Not by your pushing! Karl Rahner, one of the architects of the Second Vatican Council and my favorite European theologian, whom I quoted previously, said it so well: “But we have to say of the God whom we profess in Christ: that he is exactly where we are, and only there is he to be found.”241 Contemporary teacher Frank Viola puts this another way:   Within the triune God we discover mutual love, mutual fellowship, mutual dependence, mutual honor, mutual submission, mutual dwelling, and authentic community. In the Godhead there exists an eternal, complementary, and reciprocal interchange of divine life, divine love, and divine fellowship.… The church is an organic extension of the triune God…. …When a group of Christians follows their spiritual DNA, they will gather in a way that matches the DNA of the triune God—for they possess [this] same life that God Himself possesses…. …The headwaters of the church are found in the Godhead.242   The mystery of community in the Trinity is the mystery of allowing recognition, and inter-action. Think about that for about ten years!   241. Karl Rahner, Foundations of Christian Faith: An Introduction to the Idea of Christianity, trans. William V. Dych (London: Darton, Longman & Todd/New York: Seabury, 1978), 226. 242. Frank Viola, Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2008), 35.3358

over a period of time, we all become what we love. God in Jesus became what God loves—everything human.3387

Just show me what you love, and I’ll show you what you’re going to be like five years from now. Show me what you give time to, what your treasure is, what you give energy to—and I’ll show you what you’ll become. God had to become human once the love affair began, because—strictly speaking—love implies some level of likeness or even equality. The Incarnation was an inevitable conclusion, not an accident or an anomaly. It shouldn’t have been a complete surprise to us. God was destined and determined, I believe, to become a human being, but it’s still a big deal when the impossible gap is overcome from God’s side and by God’s choice, even if it was from the beginning. To situate it in one person in one era is the supreme example of what Walter Brueggemann calls the “scandal of particularity,”245 which is clearly the biblical pattern. In other words, it is always a bit disappointing when YHWH seems to be teaching merely through one-time anecdotes, one people Israel, or one historical Jesus, instead of revealing universal patterns through these one-time anecdotal stories or characters. A mystic is precisely one who sees things in wholes and not just in parts; he moves the incarnate moment to read the very mind of God. Literalists get lost in the specific and find it hard to make the jump. Basically, when we talk about God, we are talking about everything. Yet when God talks to us about this “everything,” he does not talk in abstractions or philosophy but through very specific stories and characters. Big truth must be presented on small stages for humans to get the point.3395

Incarnation rightly appreciated, is already redemption—Jesus doesn’t need to die on the cross to convince us that God loves us,3414

The cross was needed as a dramatic, earth-shaking icon to change your mind about God, and it still serves that purpose.3420

If you believe that the Son’s task is merely to solve some cosmic problem the Father has with humanity, that the Son’s job is to do that, then once the problem is solved, there’s apparently no need for the concrete imitation of Jesus or his history-changing teachings. Yes, we continue to thank him for solving this problem, but we’ve lost the basis for an ongoing communion, a constant love affair, not to mention the wariness we now have about the Father and the lack of an active need for a dynamic Holy Spirit. The idea of God as Trinity largely fell apart once we pulled Jesus out of the One Flow and projected our problem onto God. We needed convincing, not God.3423

Bleeding and Forbearing When I was in India some years back, I had a profound extended meeting with a holy man. He told me many wonderful things. This is something that stayed with me: he said a great being has two hearts—one that bleeds and one that forbears. This struck me deeply. In the heart that bleeds, I understood that whatever you enter into union with, you will suffer with. When you choose to love, you will eventually suffer, if only at the loss of the beloved. It is as certain as the dawn. Because when you give yourself completely, the given-ness is not always—or even usually—perfectly received. It is resisted, resented, given back to you, or not even noticed. But what is this other heart that forebears? Forbears is not a word that we use a lot. Indians, in my experience, sometimes use English words more precisely than Americans do, and it’s a gift. Here is what he told me he meant by forbear: A great being stays with what she loves; she’s patient, she forgives, and she allows what she loves to develop, to grow. She overlooks its mistakes, and in this sense she suffers for and with reality. This is the deepest meaning of passion; patior is the Latin verb meaning to suffer or to undergo reality (as opposed to controlling it). When the holy man said that to me, I realized that he was describing Jesus: a fully great being who holds together all the contraries that we cannot hold. Jesus forbears our brokenness so that we can do the same—for ourselves and, finally, for one another. He knows, as only the mind of God can, that what we refer to as evil is really goodness tortured by its own hunger and thirst, goodness that has not been able to experience being received and given back. “Evil” is what happens when human beings become tortured with this desire for goodness that they cannot experience. And then we do the kind of horrible things we see on our televisions and social media streams: killing each other, humiliating each other, hurting each other in abuses of power and privilege, showing a complete inability to even recognize the imago Dei in other beings or in ourselves. True seeing extends your sight even further: the people you want to hate, the people who carry out the worst atrocities, are not evil at their core—they’re simply tortured human beings.3434

such cosmic sympathy is the hope of the world. Any “Christ” sees Christ everywhere else; in fact, that is exactly what it means to be an anointed one. Christ bore the mystery fully ahead of time, at the head of the Great Parade or “triumphal procession,” as Paul calls it, so that Christ could be the first of many brothers and sisters.248 Now we can handle it in little doses with him, in him, and through him.3475

“To know the Lord and his ways,” as the Jewish prophets put it,250 has very little to do with intelligence and very much to do with a wonderful mixture of confidence and surrender. People who live in this way tend to be the calmest and happiest people I know. They draw their life from the inside out.3517

It all comes to this: do you allow the free-flow or do you stop it by endless forms of resistance, judgment, negativity, and fear? Just “ask, seek, and knock” as Jesus says, “and the door will be opened to you.”251 Why would God offer you something you have never asked for? Or really want? Honestly, most unhappy people I have worked with have never once asked “to know the Lord and his ways.”252 For them, prayer was just a desperate, momentary attempt to manipulate a Higher Power, forming what Martin Buber would call the “I-It relationship” where neither party maintains its dignity. God cannot allow us to relate to him as if God were an “it”; nor do we let our God out of the box we created for her. We both lose our dignity. God is completely unavailable for any manipulation or cajoling, but God is always and immediately available to the sincere seeker of love and union. God waits until you are capable of an I-Thou relationship, or edges you in that direction—just like your first failed attempt at romance once did. Only then do we have adult reciprocal relationship where both grow and become. Then we both win, and neither party is diminished—just like the Trinity. God is a fussy Lover; God does not play hard to get, but God holds out for true partners. True love always enhances both sides, and if we’re to believe many of the prophets and mystics, apparently we actually matter to God; some even said we “change” God!253 Wow!3523

see reknew.org/2015/04/doesgodchangehismind.3545

Wholly Reconciling The Spirit’s passion is to bring her anointing of humanity in Jesus to full and personal and abiding expression in us [as unique persons], and not only in us personally, but in our relationship with the Father through the Son, and in our relationships with one another, and indeed with the earth and all creation….254 Until the whole cosmos is a living sacrament of the great dance of the triune God.255   Let’s make part III a very short section of the book, shall we? That way you might remember it, or open to it haphazardly and read it. As long as we thought of God as a Being, or what I am calling a noun, then this Being could clearly choose to be loving on occasion, but also not loving. But what if the very shape of Being is first of all communion? The very nature of Being is love; or, as Teilhard de Chardin expressed, “the [very] physical structure of the universe is love.”256 Being is an active verb, and God is an event of communion? Could it be true? God does not decide to love, therefore, and God’s love can never be determined by the worthiness or unworthiness of the object. But God is Love itself.257 God cannot not love, because love is the nature of God’s very being. In Scholastic philosophy, as I mentioned earlier, we were taught that the three universal qualities of naked being (“the Transcendentals”) are that being is always: good true beautiful   When these three are apprehended together, we also experience the radical oneness of all being. We have just described the Holy Spirit, who sustains and heals all things into Love by slowly unveiling the inherent goodness, truth, and beauty in everything.   254. Kruger, Shack Revisited, 247. 255. Ibid., 64. 256. Chardin, “Sketch of a Personal Universe,” 72, https://cac.org/the-shape-of-the-universe-is-love-2016-02-29/. 257. See 1 John 4:8, 16.3547

The Divine Energy You can now reread the prologue to John’s gospel,258 and every time you see the term “Word,” or Logos, substitute Relationship or Blueprint, instead, and it will really help you get the message. “In the beginning was the Relationship,” or “In the beginning was the Blueprint.” It crescendos in when the text might be translated as “And the Blueprint took shape,” or “the Relationship became visible,”259 which is enacted when the Spirit descends on Jesus and a Voice is heard: “You are my beloved child in whom I am well pleased.”260 This exact model of relationship is then intended to be passed on to us in what Jesus calls the “baptism in the Holy Spirit.”261 Remember, the Holy Spirit is the love relationship between the Father and the Son. It is this relationship itself that is gratuitously given to us! Or better, we are included inside this love. Wow. This is salvation in one wonderful snapshot. And this same relationship shows itself in other myriad forms, such as endless animals and wildflowers, mountains and trees, every cultural attempt at art and science and medicine, all positive street theatre, and every movement for renewal. Every one of these manifestations expresses this endless desire to create new forms of life and externalized love. All things good, true, and beautiful are baptized in the one, same Spirit.262 The Holy Spirit shows herself as the central and healing power of absolute newness and healing in our relationship with everything else.3573

Any staying in relationship, any insistence on connection, is always the work of the Spirit, who warms, softens, mends, and renews all the broken, cold places in and between things. The Holy Spirit is always “the third force” happening between any two dynamics. Invisible but powerful, willing to be anonymous, she does not care who gets the credit for the wind from nowhere, the living water that we take for granted, or the bush that always burns and is never consumed.3591

Spirit has two jobs. First, she creates diversity, as exemplified in the metaphor of wind—just breathing out ever-new life in endlessly diverse forms. But then the Spirit has another job: that of the Great Connector—of all those very diverse things! All this pluriform life, the Spirit keeps in harmony and “mutual deference”267—“so there shall be one Christ, loving Himself,” as Augustine daringly put it.268 The True Seer enjoys One Giant Ecosystem of revolving and evolving love. This seeing and this enjoying is the work of the Spirit within us. This image kindles as a burning bush that is not consumed,3615

Yet refining, and any sorting that may or may not need to be done—that is the work of God. It’s not our problem. It really isn’t. Your problem isn’t to decide who is going to heaven and who is going to hell, especially when you realize those are mostly present-tense descriptions before they are ever future destinations. Your job is simply to exemplify heaven now. God will take it from there. Here is the remedy when you find it hard to exemplify heaven now: Let love happen. Remember, you cannot “get there”; you can only be here. Love is just like prayer; it is not so much an action that we do but a reality that we already are. We don’t decide to “be loving.” The Father doesn’t decide to love the Son. Fatherhood is the flow from Father to Son, 100 percent. The Son does not choose now and then to release some love to the Father, or to the Spirit. Love is their full modus operandi! The love in you—which is the Spirit in you—always somehow says yes.279 Love is not something you do; love is someone you are. It is your True Self.280 Love is where you came from and love is where you’re going. It’s not something you can buy. It’s not something you can attain. It is the presence of God within you, called the Holy Spirit—or what some theologians name uncreated grace. You can’t manufacture this by any right conduct, dear reader. You can’t make God love you one ounce more than God already loves you right now. You can’t. You can go to church every day for the rest of your life. God isn’t going to love you any more than God loves you right now. You cannot make God love you any less, either—not an ounce less. Do the most terrible thing—steal and pillage, cheat and lie—and God wouldn’t love you less. You cannot change the Divine mind about you! The flow is constant, total, and 100 percent toward your life. God is for you. We can’t diminish God’s love for us. What we can do, however, is learn how to believe it, receive it, trust it, allow it, and celebrate it, accepting Trinity’s whirling invitation to join in the cosmic dance. That’s why all spirituality comes down to how you’re doing life right now. How you’re doing right now is a microcosm of the whole of your life. How you do anything is how you do everything. St. Bernard says, “In those respects in which the soul is unlike God, it is also unlike itself. And in those ways in which the soul is most unlike itself, it is most unlike God.”281 Bernard has, of course, come to the same thing we’re trying to say here: the pattern within the Trinity is the same as the pattern in all creation. And when you return to this same pattern, the flow will be identical. Catherine LaCugna ends her giant theological tome with this one simple sentence; it’s taken her two-and-a-half inches of book to get to this one line, and its simplicity might overwhelm you, but I can’t end in any better place than she does:   The very nature of God, therefore, is to seek out the deepest possible communion and friendship with every last creature on this earth.282   That’s the job description of God. That’s what it’s all about. And the only thing that can keep you out of this divine dance is fear and doubt, or any self-hatred. What would happen in your life—right now—if you accepted what God has created and even allowed? Suddenly, this is a very safe universe. You have nothing to be afraid of. God is for you. God is leaping toward you! God is on your side, honestly more than you are on your own.3707

Catherine LaCugna’s book God with Us. It gave me theological language for what I felt I had experienced for many days during that Lent, and I came back with an idea to help other people “live and move and have their being” inside of the same flow.2833880

James 4:5. Although I have read many translations, this is my favorite: “The longing of the Spirit that God has sent to dwell in us is a jealous longing.” Try to allow the Divine Flow through you as the longing, the desiring, the even the jealousy of God for your soul’s response. It is a biblical theme starting in Exodus 34:14, “Yahweh’s name is the Jealous One; he is a jealous God.”3905

Integral Theology think tank Presence International, cofounder of The Buzz Seminar, and a founding organizer of the justice, arts, and spirituality Wild Goose Festival. He is an avid writer, freelance journalist for publications including Conspire and RELEVANT, publishing consultant, author coach, and the curator of the book-reviewing community at TheSpeakeasy.info. A self-titled “opti-mystic” and leading teacher and facilitator in emerging faith spaces, Morrell explores Spirit, Culture, and Permaculture on his blog at mikemorrell.org. Mike also curates contemplative and community experiences via Authentic World, Relational Yoga, the ManKind Project, and (H) Opp, taking joy in holding space for the extraordinary transformation that can take place at the intersection of anticipation, imagination, and radical acceptance. Mike4191

 



LIKE US

FOLLOW US