Tuesday, March 26, 2013

but I don't know what you mean by Trinity

Trinity is a loaded word. Robert Oppenheimer is said to have suggested the name based on a poem of John Donne
SINCE I am comming to that Holy roome, 
Where, with thy Quire of Saints for evermore, 
I shall be made thy Musique; As I come 
I tune the Instrument here at the dore, 
And what I must doe then, thinke here before.
Or was it Sonnet 14 - Batter my heart, poem unloved by the unimaginative, with that brilliant last line, nor ever chast except you ravish mee. Astonishingly set for Peter Pears by Benjamin Britten in his Holy Sonnets, here's a very different version sung by Gerald Finley


So what would raise such images in me in this Holy Week?  Well - none other than Psalm 135, and the little trio of poetic line in verse 7

all that delighted יהוה he did
in the heavens and in the earth
in the seas and all abysses
making the mist ascend from the extremity of the earth
lightnings for the rain he made
bringing forth spirit from his treasury
Now There's Trinity for you (said Humpty Dumpty); but I don't know what you mean by Trinity (said Alice); of course you don't - till I tell you!

One from the beginning: ascending, lighting, and self-giving. Who is the one who ascends but the one who like Jonah descended to the roots of the hills?  Who throws lightning bolts along with the gentle rain?  And who gives self in the gift of the Spirit? 

This 'God', whose name is 'becoming', who delights in the children of humanity, calls the same humanity into the same fearful character that is evident in the power released by human ingenuity.  

Why not hear and live?