on creation and trinities

Lights 1 & 2, Stained Glass Created By Tom Denny To Commemorate Thomas Traherne - Hereford Cathedral.  Windows created by Tom Denny to celebrate the life and work of one of Hereford's literary figures, Thomas Traherne (c. 1636-1674).
Lights 1 & 2, Stained Glass, by Jim Linwood

Part of my vows as a life-professed Sister with the Anglican Order of Preachers is a requirement to spend an hour each day in study of scripture.  I confess that my study time is not completely scriptural, but may include study of saints, early Dominicans, and the church.  I also tend to have two or three threads to my study, so that if I overdose on one of the threads, I can shift to something different for a while, instead of completely giving up on study.

So I’ve started to spend some time with Thomas Traherne, medieval mystic and poet.  This morning, I read the introduction to Centuries of Meditations, and one part of this stopped me in my tracks.

In the character of Traherne the qualities of the Poet, the Mystic, and the Saint are all to be found in a very high degree, if not indeed in their highest manifestations.  And these qualities were all so happily combined n him that they make up together a perfect unity.  He was not more a Poet than a Mystic, no more a Mystic than a Saint; but each at all times, and never one rather than the other.

I had to transfer this to my notebook immediately, so taken was I by this trinity-in-unity that comprises Traherne.  I could see the Poet as God the Father, the Saint as Jesus the son, and the Mystic as the Holy Spirit. God spoke the universe into being, authoring the poem that is still being written in each of us; Jesus is the incarnate Word, being the first of Saints through whom all other saints are redeemed; and the Spirit is invisible, working among us in mysterious ways.

Lights 3 & 4, Stained Glass Created By Tom Denny To Commemorate Thomas Traherne - Hereford Cathedral.  Windows created by Tom Denny to celebrate the life and work of one of Hereford's literary figures, Thomas Traherne (c. 1636-1674).
Lights 3 & 4, Stained Glass, by Jim Linwood

Then I recalled another trinity, described by Dorothy Sayers in The Mind of the Maker:

For every work (or act) of creation is threefold, an earthly trinity to match the heavenly. First (not in time, but merely in order of enumeration) there is the Creative Idea, passionless, timeless, beholding the whose work complete at once, the end in the beginning: and this is the image of the Father.

Second, there is the Creative Energy (or activity) begotten of that idea, working in time from the beginning to the end, with sweat and passion, being incarnate in the bonds of matter: and this is the image of the Word. Third, there is the Creative Power, the meaning of the work and its response in the lively soul: and this is the image of the indwelling Spirit.

And these three are one, each equally in itself the whole work, whereof none can exist without other: and this is the image of the Trinity.

I find Bertram Dobell‘s description of the Trinity within Thomas Traherne more understandable than the Trinity of Sayers, but both describe the creative imperative, the drive God has placed inside all of us to be co-creators of the universe.

Of course, I must confess to not totally understanding the Holy Trinity.  I find that there are times when everything seems perfectly crystal clear to me, a gift from the Holy Spirit that lasts only a moment, after which I return to my normal puzzlement.  These two metaphors, translating the mystery of the triune God into earthly representations, captured my heart and my mind.  Perhaps these creative trinities will dance in your own imagination.  For myself, I’m getting back to those studies.

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