Trinity is like a kaleidoscope

by Laura Hammel


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This week's feast of the Holy Trinity is the one of the few Sundays of our church calendar year that is not based on an actual event in the life of Jesus.

Maybe it is appropriate to put the celebration of this Sunday here, since we have just completed our journey with Jesus through Lent, Easter and his Ascension.

Last Sunday, Trinity Sunday, we had the opportunity to think about the nature of God, and what that means to us. When we say God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, we are describing what theologians call "God in three persons," or the Holy Trinity.

Throughout the ages, teachers have used many ways to describe the mystery of the Trinity. St. Thomas Aquinas used the symbol of a triangle to illustrate God's nature, while St. Patrick chose the shamrock, a clover plant that has one stem with three green leaves.

When I tried to think of a modern example to help me think about the mystery of the Trinity — of how separate pieces can form one whole — I remembered kaleidoscopes.

I was fascinated with them when I was a child. Kaleidoscopes are simply a tube containing mirrors and many pieces of colored glass or other objects.

When you rotate the tube and look through the eye piece you see — not many separate pieces of glass — but one entire design. As you continue to rotate, the pieces come together in different ways to form new designs.

And so for me, the changing patterns of the kaleidoscope are an example of how the three persons of the Trinity move together in compelling and ever new ways.

What are some of the ways that I experience the Trinity in my life? It is possible to experience the actions of all three natures in a single day.

For me, the experience of a wonderful God who created this earth often comes in the early morning hours. I can feel a sacredness to the beginning of a new day.

Soon the birds begin chirping, and in the distance I sometimes hear the train whistle. If the windows are open, I can feel the breeze on my face. Experiences like this capture my soul, and I experience awe and reverence in the presence of God.

Later in the day, when I may be faced with difficult decisions, I turn to Jesus to help me choose the right action for a particular situation. There is a popular saying people use to remind themselves of this experience. They ask, "What would Jesus do?" (WWJD).

Finally, in the evenings when I sit on our porch, I feel gratitude for the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. I have a sense of the comfort, love and support of the Holy Spirit.

When I meditate on the Trinity, I feel enlivened with wonder and awe in my heart, and am so grateful to know the presence of God in my life.

How do you experience the Trinity? We don't have to wait for Trinity Sunday to roll around again; we can all enjoy some time spent in reflecting on this question more often.

May we all experience the wonder and awe of the ever-new, fascinating, "kaleidoscopic" nature of the Trinity every day!

[Laura Hammel is a member of the Sisters of St. Clare, a Poor Clare community in Saginaw, Michigan. In addition to the prayer ministry in her diocese, she has developed and maintained a website introducing different prayer forms useful at certain times of the year.]