“From of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth.Proverbs 8-22
When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no fountains or springs of water;before the mountains were settled into place, before the hills, I was brought forth; while as yet the earth and fields were not made, or any of the dust of the earth”
Those were the words of the first reading at today’s celebration of Trinity Sunday. Fr. Dan Riley, OFM read some words prior to the beginning of Mass from Robert Lax’s “Circus of the Sun”. Lax’s poem prefaced the words from Proverbs. I was struck by the similarity of the words.
Lately I’ve been attending Quaker meetings on Zoom and as many of you know there’s a lot of silence in those services. Quaker liturgy is devoid of images and the absence of wrote prayers is refreshing too. The encounter with God is wordless and yet the presence is there. Silence has often been the voice of God in my life. When I visit monasteries I love the silence. When I walk along the creeks and among the trees in the wooded areas that surround our villlage I’m struck by the presence and power of creation but at the same time by its stillness.
I grew up surrounded by images of God, Jesus, and the saints. More often than not they looked white like me. Lately I’ve seen more depictions of Jesus, Mary and the disciples as darker which is what they probably looked like. What struck me about today’s reading is that it was a description of a force without form or shape. It was a presence but not a depiction. Everyday I’m surrounded by trees, grass, flowers and people yet I fail to reflect that all of these sentient beings are animated by a power and spirit that is without form. The presence of God is within and without all that I see whether Republican or Democrat, man or woman, woodchuck, squirrel, sparrow, rock, stream and sky. I’m surrounded by goodness and some badness too but it’s all permeated by this presence that’s described in Proverbs and other sacred writings from other traditions.
God always seemed forbidding and distant to me because I saw God as a angry man like my father. I couldn’t feel close to a force like that. In the past few years after a challenge from my wife I’ve been reconsidering my concepts and beliefs and it’s led me to a new conception of a supreme force for good in my life. More often than not that force has been feminine. EMDR therapy has helped me to discover the roots of that belief. It was my grandmother who was my early nurture and to whom I could always go for help. She had the time to spend with me that my mother could not because she was working with my father. That hurt my mother and I understand that now but it was Grandma who I felt close to.
Fr. Lou was sitting next to me at Mass this morning and he said “The Shack” had given him the perfect description of the trinity. That fit for me. Octavia Spencer portrayed God in that film. Sumire Matsubara played the holy spirit and Jesus was played by Aviv Alush. None of the characters were threatening. There’s a feminine spirit that’s missing in much of western Christianity that needs to be reclaimed. The world needs more of the feminine and less of toxic masculinity that pervades. We need more of the nurturer at least I have found it so in my life.