SAT CHIT ANAND
THE TRINITY: DIVINE DANCE OF LOVE
O God, you are the one to whom I reach out,
Mystery beyond human thinking,
love beyond our comprehending,
Yet because you are love,
you have reached out to me,
Taken me into the very heart of your divine life,
Come close to me as father and brother:
And even more.
You yourself have come to dwell in me,
So it is your love within me
reaching out to your love beyond me.
O God beyond me,
God beside me,
God within me!
Icons are intended to be windows to the Divine. Whatever we look at for a long time, has an impact on us. An Icon is born out of prayer, silence and devotion, and this is manifest in the resulting piece of work. In turn, it leads others into silent worship. In this Icon, we are not only looking at three angels but at the Trinity and at the harmony and love that exists between them. From left to right, the 1st figure represents God the Father; the 2nd figure God the Son; and the 3rd figure God the Holy Spirit. The three figures create a circle – the symbol of perfection, unity and eternity, having no beginning and no end. This circle is emphasized by the curve of their bodies and the inclination of their heads, depicting the movement of love that flows around and around with no end. The figures are in eternal communion and give the impression of perfect unity. Their wings, which seem to form an enclosing curtain, emphasize the bond between them, echoing Jesus’ prayer to his Father: “That they may be one, as we are one”. [John 17:11]
The word “Trinity” is not used in the Bible. It comes from the Latin word trinitas, which means “threeness”. The Bible teaches that there is one God, who has three distinct personas, called the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are therefore three in one and one in three, and each possesses the whole fullness of the Godhead. There are also two aspects of God: His transcendence and His immanence. In His transcendence, he remains beyond our knowledge and imagining – he is the greatest Mystery. In His immanence, he comes to us and desires to make himself known to us – he is self-revealing, self-communicating, self-giving and self-sacrificing. The love that burned within the heart of the Trinity, and the desire to be in relationship with mankind, led to God taking on human form – God became human so that we could become divine. At the heart of the Trinity there is community. No wonder then, that we, who have been created in the image of God, are relational people with a need to belong and a desire to give and receive love.
The Trinity in Action:
The Trinity is not just a concept or an idea. It is a way of being. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one in essence, yet diverse in their expression of the Godhead, each having their own identity and role to play. It is the Father (the unmanifest) who initiates, and the Son (the manifest) who responds and obeys that initiative. The Father’s initiation is fruitful only through the Son’s response to it, and the Son’s response is entirely defined by the Father’s initiative. The Spirit is the one who breathes the life of God into us, and reveals God the Father through God the Son.
The Divine Dance:
A dance takes place at the centre of God. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit serve each other, give themselves to each other, receive from one another and take mutual delight in one another. There is a movement towards one another and a movement from one another. The Divine Dance indicates the mutual indwelling and interpenetration of the Trinity, based on words spoken by Jesus: “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” [John 14:11] In God there is life, relationship, vitality, movement. At the heart of God there is a divine dance, twisting, turning and circling with eternal life. Father, Son and Holy Spirit move and flow and draw life from one another in a bond of perfect love. There is a dance of love going on in God, for between the persons of the Trinity there is intimacy, adoration, love, self-offering, concern for the world.
This divine dance can be seen in the circular motion in the Trinity Icon. The three figures are motionless and yet also in a graceful movement. They are depicted in the act of giving and receiving love as the dance of relationship passes from one to the other, first in one direction, then in the other, on and on. In the dance of love, the Son cries: “Abba, Father!” and the Father cries: “My beloved Son”, and the love that leaps between them is the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of God himself, for God is Spirit and God is love. Through their dance of love the glory of God is revealed to us.
Joining the Dance:
The Trinity is not in an exclusive relationship, and we should notice that there is a space left open on our side of the table so that we can join the circle. We are invited to join the circle of love and allow ourselves to be drawn into the love, harmony and movement that flow between the Godhead. Just as the Icon leaves space for us to enter the circle, so the Trinity makes space for us to join in. We are invited to join the dance and live our life in relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This life is to be expressed in the world in our attitudes and actions, our thoughts, words and deeds. God is at work and He calls us to join Him. When our starting point is God, this will make a difference to everything. As we begin to live in closer relationship with God, his values will become ours, and those values will inform our actions. As Paul wrote: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” [Romans 12:2]
Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
And I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he.
[Lord of the Dance by Sydney Carter]
Summarised from The Circle of Love: Praying with Rublev’s Icon of the Trinity by Ann Persson