A basic assumption on which this study is based is that the Godhead has an analgous connection with human experience. What we assume about the nature of the Trinity has application to humanity. Hopefully, this has been helpful in our considerations of the spiritual aspects of our nature and relationships.
If I may (perhaps with reckless abandon?) extend this analogy the other way around: are there aspects of our nature and relationship that serve as a window into the hidden life of God?
Can we set realistic goals for ourselves based on what we desire?
There are two axioms that present themselves. I use to tell my children, “What you want is not always what you get.” There are those desires for immediate satisfaction that often are not realistic. (I wish I had one million dollars ... I don’t.) Frustration comes when the ability to attain the object of the desire is blocked. Unexamined desire based on need or want does not necessarily conform to the reality of the situation. It must be balanced with many other factors: resources, social responsibility, what is best for self, etc.
Then there is the axiom: “Watch what you wish for, because you may get it.” This is based on the experience of people who get that for which set out and find that it entails much more sacrifice and work than they realized. They desire with “eyes well shut”.
Then there is my favorite: “If you wish to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal.”
Some desires are next to impossible to fulfill, yet to many are worth the effort. I am aware of those in economically depressed parts of the world with their eyes set longingly on the United States. Some sacrifice everything to cross the border, yet many are apprehended and turned back the moment they set their foot on the soil on the other side. Then sometimes thet turn back and try again... and again.
Or there are those who act on desires that they know are beyond achievement. Those who strive indefatigably for lofty social goals, such as global economic justice or world peace, who realize that they never will see fullness of justice and peace, yet the effort itself is its own reward.
Some discount the aspiration of those idealists because they feel that desire is a cruel joke played on the human race. They are “Pollyannas” wasting their lives “spinning their wheels”.
To dream of, to hope for, to work for utopia is foolhardy if we estranged from our ideals. This disengagement facilitates the objectives of those who stand to lose if a person, or a group of persons, “rock the boat” by changing a system that benefits them. This is clearly seen in the kinds of economic crises caused by the dishonesty of banks and other corporations who stood to gain by divesting the larger population.
Empowerment enables us to dream: not night-time fantasies, but hope-filled expectations of a better world.
It seems that spiritual desire has always part of the human psyche, as has been demonstrated across cultures. There is a hunger for the Transcendent, that which transcends human experience, in all of us. There are various ways to express its fulfillment: “enlightenment”, communion, heaven, the rapture, nirvana. We hope for union with the Divine. Johann Sebastian Bach ‘s musical piece, “Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring” melodically celebrates the fulfillment of our spiritual longing. We place in the Trinity the realization of our deepest desires. To Bruce Springsteen’s refrain ,“Everybody has a hungry heart”, Augustine of Hippo replies, “Our hearts are restless, and they will not rest until they rest in Thee.”
Play is often thought of as a child’s occupation. In raising a child, the wise parent allows plenty of time and space for play. A special delight, for both child and parent, is when they play together.
The unconscious and the conscious are not as clearly defined for a child as for an adult. As a child therapist, I am aware that the child’s identity is intimately connected with the identity of the family. So my usual preference is to include the family in therapy. However, there are times when I am restricted to working with the child alone. During those times, the best access I have to the child is through play. There is a large sand tray in my office, and children are immediately attracted to it for “sand play”, whereby they arrange preselected figurines in a way that symbolizes what is happening in them on a deeper level.
In Transactional Analysis, where the Parent, Adult and Child in each person, regardless of age, are taken into consideration, there is a child even in the oldest person!
I have heard Transactional Analysis extended to the Trinity as well: God the Source of Being representing the parent; God the Word the adult; and (of course) the Spirit the child. I am not sure I am comfortable with all aspects of this simile. What most appeals to me is the play that is the life of the Trinity.
Play always does not refer to those aspects of human interaction that are not serious. Look at the intense expression on the face of a coach when it’s the bottom of the ninth and the score is tied. Or the hapless beating of a fan of an opposing sports team in the parking lot after the game. Play is a step aside from our work-a-day world. Often it can be exciting, joyful, and recreative. Win or lose, we have creatively “wasted time”. We have engaged the child in all of us for yet another occasion.
Jazz, the contribution of the American musician (beginning with the AfroAmerican pioneers) to the international music scene is a kind of “play” on melody. The pianist, or saxophonist, or other instrumentalist, expands, experiments, improvises the melody line, sometimes in a highly structured way, at other times with great spontaneity.
When I happen upon a grammar school during the recess time, the shouts of children at play present a high-volume cacophony. It is then I can most clearly hear God’s voice!
In human nature gender identity falls on a spectrum. There are biological anomalies that bestow physical gender characteristics that do not match the subject’s self identity. Without discounting these variations, my consideration of gender will focus on the dominant gender identities of male and female.
There is complementariness in human relationship, without gender determination. Some may choose same-sex relationship to balance their needs. The ultimate purpose of the variation of hormonally driven gender identity and gender attraction is, of course, procreation and family roles. At the same time, for various reasons, the experience of gender may entail neither procreation nor the raising of a family.
The Genesis story of creation took neither procreation nor family into account. The author (with a clear male bias!) told that gender variation was created to offset human loneliness. Gender mutuality may be for some a struggle, but the broad experience of the human family endorses the partnership of man and woman. We complete one another.
God has not gender. God is not male (despite the way artists have depicted God).God is not “Father”. God is not a “He”.
Or God is both genders. God is male-female; God is “Father-Mother”, God is “He- She”. Just as genders complement one another, God is mutuality. Just as genders alleviate human loneliness, Trinity is Good Company.
Between the “Persons” of the Trinity, there is conviviality.
In the 1960's, I had the privilege to hear the late Ivan Illich speak. Back then, he described "Conviviality" as "getting a little tipsy together". (Why can the Persons of the Trinity not be reclining on their bacchanalian couches, slightly drunk from the wonders of existence?)
Webster’s defines “Convivial” as “Related to feasting, drinking, and good company.” It comes from the Latin convivium, meaning"a feast," from the roots "con" (with) and "vivir" (to live). It can be described as "life-affirming fellowship between persons”. Illich later wrote that conviviality is "individual freedom realized in personal interdependence and, as such, is an intrinsic ethical value".
Conviviality is a mental model that I have cherished and practiced since. It is a style that I have had the privilege to experience in the Philippines and in Mexico. The Philippines is preconditioned to convivialty through its practice of "hiya" (shame). This includes awareness of the feeings of others and willingness to do best for the group, leading to tolerance, openness and acceptance. The Hispanic communities have developed the practice of hospitality wherein "mi casa es su casa" ("my home is your home").
Pope John Paul II speaks of Conviviality when he writes in his encyclical “On Social Change”: “Solidarity helps us to see the ‘other’ – whether a person, people, or nation – not just as some kind of instrument, with a work capacity and physical strength to be exploited at low cost and then discarded when no longer useful, but as our ‘neighbor’, a ‘helper’ to be made a sharer, on par with ourselves, in the banquet of life to which we all are equally invited by God.”
Ivan Illich saw conviviality as the outcome of positive social change. Conviviality as social change not only serves the highest aspirations of the human family but is a global imperative for its well-being. When social change is not addressed in a way that alleviates the divisions that fragment society, then poverty, conflict and hunger will continue to hold hostage the global population from attaining the freedom and community that alleviate dissensions and serve the welfare of all.
I cannot conclude this examination of sacred analogy without considering what the Old Testament holds as the most Divine of all human characteristics: Wisdom.
Wisdom is aligned with Beauty, Truth, and Natural Law. This presumes a standard of order, conscience, and balance that is at the base of human existence. There is no course for future attorneys in natural law; it resonates through the conscience and sensibility of humankind. We feel of twinge of things being out of place when we violate these basic concepts. The ways we justify the taking of the life of another cannot avoid the natural reluctance (of people without psychiatrically based distortions) when faced with the act itself. We react in horror at genocide, terrorist attacks, mass murders. We build laws to protect the social structure from the fanatically imbalanced individuals (or groups). One crosses certain boundaries only at the expense of society! Fanaticism fanned by the hysteria of uncompromising extremists also can carry away groups to violate our most precious values.
Wisdom is gained though a combination of insight and experience. Often, the elders – those who have the most experience -- are the custodians of wisdom. The reverence with which a culture treats its elderly is a gauge of the importance the culture gives to wisdom.
Seldom are the young disposed to bypass the “hard knocks” of experience. Tradition comes from the Latin traditio, which means to “pass on”. The collective wisdom of a culture is passed down through lore, writings, rituals, from generation to generation.
The art of listening and attentiveness is especially helpful. Cultures, surrounded by noise and distraction, are more prone to ignore wisdom.