God Is A Dance of Love: Three Reflections on the Trinity

God Is A Dance of Love: Three Reflections on the Trinity June 17, 2022

Misunderstanding Trinity: The Existential Dread

God is a Dance of Love, sweeping us into the divine rhythm of everlasting joy. That’s what the Trinity shows me.

I didn’t always love the Trinity. For a long time, this doctrine was a source not only of confusion, but also anxiety and dread for me.

I wished I could disregard the absurd paradox and simply believe that God is Love. But the violence of God in scripture frightened me, and in that context, the Trinity seemed like the litmus test of an exacting and wrathful deity. I thought I either had to reconcile the impossible mathematics of the Trinity or suspend my disbelief enough to become content with the mystery of it… or be damned.

So it surprised me to find, after years of wrestling with my faith, that the Trinity actually helps me perceive the shape of God’s boundless Love.

Disarming Violence and Casting Out Fear

The Trinity is less about God’s numerical essence and more about God’s character. It strives to articulate a glorious recognition that took time to process, not that Jesus is like God, but that God is like Jesus. The fullness of God is the compassion and mercy that Jesus embodied to the end. And the Spirit of God poured out on all flesh is not a spirit of wrath, but a spirit affirming the irrevocable dignity and goodness of all. 

God is revealed in Jesus and the Holy Spirit to be welcoming, healing, transformative Love. And the understandable human misunderstanding of conflating God with violence is dispelled. That is what seeing God in Trinity means.

It was a relief to approach the Trinity from a new angle, not trying to fit Jesus into a violent picture of God but letting Jesus reveal God’s disempowerment of violence. It was a relief to realize that we are not called to “figure the Trinity out.”

The Trinity doesn’t define God; God defies explanation. But it reveals a dimension to the meaning of God as Love. The very nature of Love itself is relational. Love is not cosmic solitude or isolation. Love is Relationship.

The Trinity is not a mathematical absurdity or an admissions test for heaven. It is the relationship of Love that embraces us and guides us into more perfect love for one another.

And relationships aren’t meant to be “explained,” but entered into, explored, and enjoyed.

Meditating on God as Relationship, as the eternal Dance of Love, inspires me to reflect Love boldly in my own life. So it is in love that I share three brief musings on the dimensions of love that understanding God as Trinity reveals to me.

First, Love is Creative.

Lover and Beloved the Love between them sweep and swirl in ecstasy. Where they spin They leave stars and planets in Their wake. In pure joy They pour out the waters of the oceans and streams. Their flourishes invite vegetation to burst from the ground. Creation is born of the joyful Dance of Love, which is All-in-All.

Proverbs 8 personifies Wisdom as God’s constant companion at the dawn of creation. It’s been seen as a prefiguration of Christ, an illumination of the “Word” that was “with God,” and “was God” before becoming enfleshed and dwelling among us. “I was daily his delight, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.”

This passage points to the communal nature of creation. Rather than an isolated deity speaking the world into existence, it’s a heavenly Relationship that joyfully births the heavens and the earth. The world is infused with Love because God is Love. God is delightful and delighted togetherness. Thus, all creation is interconnected and interdependent.

And the Love that made us loves us too! Not only loves but delights in us! Reflecting on God as Relationship helps me remember that we are made in Love’s image, made from and for the love of others. Love need not be romantic, but we need to love and be loved to live and create wondrous new possibilities in the world.

Next, Love Is Embodied.

God became flesh and dwelt among us to show us how to love each other.

Jesus is Perfect Love embodied. Love rejoices when the beloved rejoices and suffers when the beloved suffers. We are all God’s beloved children. From the beginning God has delighted in us and suffered with us. Jesus clothes that love in flesh so we can truly see it.

Reflecting on God as Relationship, I realize that Jesus could only love so creatively, so courageously, and so relentlessly in such an imperfect world because he knew himself to be perfectly Loved. The immanent, compassionate (co-suffering) love of Jesus was tethered to the transcendent, hope-fulfilling Love of the one he called Father. And because he knew himself to be loved, he could become a fathomless well of love poured out to the world.

Jesus showed those who thought themselves to be beyond Love’s boundaries that Love has no boundaries at all by entering into solidarity with them. And Jesus actively loves us when we feel most unloveable.

To follow Jesus is to open ourselves in vulnerability to the suffering that comes from active solidarity with the poor and despised. But it also means opening ourselves to the joy of recognizing the unconditional love God has for us and for all.

When we orient ourselves in the assurance of unconditional Love for everyone, we can begin to become instruments of that Love. Then we are empowered not only with compassion, but with the delight that comes from trusting the best in ourselves and seeing the best in others. Jesus had compassion and delight in abundance, because Jesus was in Love, because Jesus was Love.

Finally, Love is Welcoming.

I believe in an Open Trinity.

That is, I believe we are all welcomed into the Life of God.

We are already swept up in the eternal Dance of Love. It’s the ever-flowing current in which we live and move and have our being.

But we could spend our lives resisting the current, struggling to swim against it. We could spend our lives as children of Love blind to or dismissive of that Love. We might try to prove our “worthiness” or see rivals and enemies among our siblings.

Resistance to the full recognition that we are loved is part of being human. Or it’s a stage on the way to becoming fully human. We all fall into insecurity and anxiety, measuring our success and failures over and against others. Love carries us through, not condemning us for our resistance, but gently calling us to turn around and relax.

Jesus embodied Love because he was able to relax into being Loved.

And if we relax into Love, we can be Love too.

We can recognize our interconnection to everything and realize that our wellbeing is tied to nurturing and caring for each other, rather than in ignoring or living at the expense of the other.

The Spirit empowers us with the patience and compassion and courage and creativity to cultivate love for ourselves and others. And when we live into the image of Love in which we were made, we become Love. We become divine.

Reflecting Triune Love

Ultimately, the language of Trinity opens the mystery of God, the mystery of Love, for me to explore more deeply. I see Love as a Dance, with Lover and Beloved eternally delighting in each other. The Love that flows between them pours out to all of us, inviting us in.

Made in the image of Trinue Love, I see every relationship as a trinity. In every connection between two people, there are the people themselves and the energy between them that takes on a life of its own. That energy is holy when the people relate to each other in love, opening up new possibilities of wonder and joy that never would have been had they not come together and seen the best in each other.

When we love each other, we don’t just get swept up in the Dance of Love. We actively dance along.

Image: “Trinity in Dark Tones” by Alex Rapoport

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