This past Sunday we celebrated “Trinity Sunday.” While I do not come close to understanding the concept, we are told and taught that Whoever or Whatever our “God” is, we Christians believe Him/Her/It to be “triune.” As far as I know, the only use for that weird adjective is to describe what we believe to be the three-in-one and one-in-three nature of the Divine.
A Symbol of the “Triune” nature of our God.
A few years after he wrote “The Road Less Traveled,” I had the chance to spend a week with Scott Peck at a Kanuga summer conference. One of his lectures was entitled “A Taste For Mystery” in which he pondered whether our spiritual maturity depends upon our developing such a taste for the Unseen, or whether we develop a greater tolerance (indeed a greater thirst) as we progress in spiritual maturity. Whichever it is — and I think it is both — the holy, indivisible Trinity of is for me the deepest of all Mystery.
The writer of the appointed Psalm for Trinity Sunday must have developed quite a taste:
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, *
the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,
What is man that you should be mindful of him? *
the son of man that you should seek him out?
The Psalmist was aware of God of course, “the Word,” but not yet the “Word made flesh” that was not to arrive on the scene to “dwell among us” for another 1000 years. So the question posed is even more remarkable given the timeframe it was probably written. We in the 21st Century now know — in a way that neither the Psalmist nor any of Jesus’ disciples nor any of his followers for centuries to come could possibly know — that we live the span of our lives in one tiny spec of a galaxy that is a mere crumb on the floor of the vast expanding celestial bread factory.
And if God does span all of time – if indeed God IS time — we now know that the history of our species does not even make up the last inch of a football field in that timeline.
So, the Psalmist’s question resonates now more than at any point in our spec-of-dust blink-of-an-eye existence: What IS humankind that God should “seek us out”? Why does God even care?
It is a question that has haunted me, provoked me, stirred me, and I’d like to think blessed me most of my life. It was the question a college classmate at Davidson asked me late one evening after venturing down our freshman hall. Just this past week, totally by surprise, that same classmate reached out to remind me of that conversation four decades ago. Kevin is now the President of a Lutheran Seminary and shared that he was planning to preach on Trinity Sunday, focusing on Psalm 8 — and our long-ago discussion! I was floored as much as I was flattered. While I remember the conversation, I certainly don’t remember it being all that profound, mainly that I was sure I was pontificating naively, with all the cock-sure confidence that only being nineteen can bring. Kevin, being a honest Lutheran, did not deny that was the case.
But his memory went much deeper, in that Mike the freshman wasn’t as much focused on the questions posed as the observations given. For in the very next verse, the Psalmist proclaims in the very next verse:
Yet you have made him little lower than the Angels,
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands, and put all things under their feet. (Psalm 8:5-6)
Far from being puny and small and meaningless, Kevin remembered my suggesting to him that those verses proclaimed that God had invested everything in human beings and we are of infinite worth. Again, I remember the conversation happening, and especially Kevin’s earnest searching for Truth that I admired so, but nothing of these details. Yet he did, and he reminded me of it at a time when I especially needed to remember God’s sovereignty, unbound by distance and time.
This long ago small conversation and my new memory of it has made me consider, or re-consider, that the “vastness of interstellar space” (as one Eucharistic Prayer puts it) points me to a Vastness beyond all our knowledge. And perhaps, if I can muster and maintain it, it leads me again to simply trust that we ARE of infinite worth to the Creator of that Vastness, and somehow created in that Creator’s image, redeemed through the life of The One life above all lives ever lived, and sustained by infinite and unfathomable Love, for all of time.
God the Creator, God the Redeemer and God the Sustainer … the deepest of all Mystery.