Trinity.  Community.  It all incorporates change, beginnings and endings, persons and promises.  There is movement in it and strength, a constant becoming that embodies a process.   Simply living is to be tried in the fire, tested over and again, found wanting, finding more, embracing the process.

Wrestling with victimization and inequality, individuals find themselves caught in the cruel confusion of conflict and suffering.  Stress and tension multiply; anger and frustration explode in FaceBook posts and headlines, serving up a vicious cycle of blame and shame.  There is not a real exchange, no real interaction, no process of becoming.

Trinity Sunday is a reminder that life is much more than that.  First, it is a reminder of mystery: the idea that it is virtually impossible to comprehend life itself.  Life itself  is a mystery and the concept of the Trinity bears witness to that universal truth and expression.  Quantum physics explains so much but cannot justify the random choices that steal lives in highway accidents, make widows of young mothers, fill cancer wards or bind lovers into families.

Secondly, it is a reminder that truthfully no one exists alone.  Life begets life: the Father and the Son, one not alive without the other.  One generation does not exist without the last, does not go on without the next.  Even the most narcissistic are incredibly bound to other for definition; constructing identity is impossible without the balance of other.  Trinity inspires and nurtures that. And the Spirit, beyond Father and Son, energizes and binds,  invites and guides.   That gift is the exquisite richness of interplay, the love that transcends generations and animates long past physical presence to one another.  And so, once loved, loved always in spite of each failure, every transgression, even the moments of negligence. And so it is, living together just as we are.

Thirdly, Trinity is about movement just as life is about movement.  There is nothing stagnant, nothing lost, nothing simple.  Moments of tranquility yield to fragile vulnerability to cascading uncertainty in the shape of ordinary, daily lives.  There is a complex interplay of so many factors in every aspect of life and there is a force, an energy in all that reflecting the dynamism of Trinity.

The Trinity, theologically complex, bears a deeper message for those schooled in non-academic treatises, welded to the rigors of the world such as it is.  It is an emblem, a model, mirroring the importance of relationships, promising so much to the most insignificant.  It is reminding all of us how much each of us matters, how challenging life is, and how meaningful every relationship is.  In essence, the Trinity gives a harbor, a framework for the business of living.  And while the concept of “mystery” invites charges of ignorance and superstition, ridicule and sarcasm, there is richness in meaning if allowed.









There is a hollow aftermath, an odd silence, in the wake of a severe storm.  The tyranny of a tornado brought that to small towns this week.  The cruelty of water and wind wrestled majestic trees to earth, tore at rooftops and punctured walls,  halved cars and trucks.  Radically re-ordering the familiar in just fifteen minutes of time, that storm  serged raw wounds on earth and in hearts.  It created thousands of  stories in that many lives; every story needs telling, and now, just past the odd silence, those stories are finding  words in conversations over coffee, at cashier counters and storefronts, gas stations and gyms.  The incredulity and fear, the shock and the gratitude, find format in the exchanges.  Some show photos; there is nervous laughter, some anxious impatience, some sense that this was something inexplicable, the effects as incomprehensible  as the storm was unexpected.

Today marks the Feast of Pentecost: the great wind and the coming of the Spirit to frightened Apostles of Jesus huddling together.  Where there was fear, a wind brought the grace of resilience, of strength and trust in one another, a renewed sense of mission.  Their story, narrated with almost breathless incredulity, describes a new sense of seeing one another, of seeing themselves.  Their story frames the reality of change in life: the way one event, one relationship, alters everything.  In some ways, it is not so different than the surge of a storm or those turning point moments that somehow comprise daily life.  Unexpected and powerful, each invites the extraordinary from  very ordinary persons.

Therein is the gift of Pentecost: although fraught with theological nuances, there is a certain simplicity and reality to the story.  The Spirit for the apostles was an awakening of unrealized gift within them.  The Spirit generated an energy none had aniticipated yet each enjoyed.  The Spirit gave a sense of order to what had become incomprehensible for Jesus’ followers;  anxious Apostles found the firmer ground of belief and possibility, of confidence  in goodness and in one another.  Somehow, Trust transcended the mysterious and pained experiences of Jesus’ death and the confusion around the stories.

Most importantly, their story was told, shared and re-told, and finally caught in the lines of Scripture.  That filigreed, articulated memory bound to sentences and paragraphs so long ago can be invaluable; in so many ways, the stories are timeless mirrors even to 21st century experiences.  They are reminders that in a world that feels so new and scientifically based, so much better than earlier times, that humanity still needs to know the gifts of trust, of hope and of resilience and strength.  Ultimately, there is more to life than what can be seen or understood in this moment; the Spirit invited the Apostles to something else, and in the re-telling of the story, invites each of us to the more.

There is, after all, in each individual story, the capriciousness of storms and the grappling with confusion and fear.  Beyond that, there is the richness of the Spirit just waiting to be seen and known and energize.  Pentecost is the reminder that further possibilities exist; there is more than what can be seen….even in the wake of a storm.


Calamities and Calm

Calamities in life multiply at the most inopportune of moments.  The buzz of gossip at work, the craziness of traffic, disruptions of lost keys and forgotten plans, disagreeable conversations and frustrating conflicts generate an energy all their own. One  stressor after the other feeds the last until there is no shred of calm visible or even viable and the calamity becomes the turmoil of a tornado, stripping away all that was foundational and familiar.  It happens periodically in families and businesses, schools and churches, among friends and fans.  Most importantly, it obscures the deeper issue of what really matters.

There is a temptation in that space to choose sides, point blame, criticize and complain, indulge in suspicion and conspiracy theories.  But the choices around this are often not about the events themselves.  Instead, the choice is about how to meet the challenge, what attitude can be most effective, how to live in the midst of the storm.  It is almost too easy to delve into the drama head first, fists flying and mouth running.  It is easier to speculate than step away.  And yet, at the very core of Catholicism is that invitation to quiet.

Quiet is more than a physical space; it is of the soul, a sacred center for sorting out the puzzle pieces of life.  It is a monastery within, with room for all the agonies and joys of everyday.  Quiet allows for the formation of context for memory, for perspective around emotion and for truth in choices.  Quiet enables the whisper of God to be heard in heart, and quiet reveals the path to be chosen with deliberate calm.

The tradition of quiet is woven into Catholicism in thousands of strands from Jesus’ time in the desert through the choices of the monastics and the lives of Francis and Clare and in the lives of today’s contemplative persons.  Quiet is an invitation to rediscover the calm  in the calamity, to trust in the deeper truths, and to know in heart that the collective good requires sacrifice and attentiveness from each of us.  Quiet opens the avenue of possibility.





Illusions are those moments when reality appears to us whole and inspired, seamless and palatable.  There is a satisfying fullness about it, a completeness that stirs the narrative of self and somehow infuses the stories we tell ourselves about what the world is like.  There is a certain  comfort to the fabrication; it abides within, sheltering and shaping, enabling and even empowering at times.

Even better are the moments when understanding unfolds.  Illusions meet the sharp edge of truth in the scrutiny of exposure.  In that agonizing season of loss, the loneliness of illusions abandoned, there is a quiet rebirth, something new and sacred   coming  to life.  And the spiral draws one deeper into the truth drilling as it dares towards the core of human experience.

Illusions  are laced through professional life and relationships, into personal friendships and interactions, institutions and hierarchies.   In some way, illusions are born of the human desire to see no further, to accept if not condone, to survive the descrepancies and curious contradictions in life. They survive because it is easier, and they die in the face of truth.

Illusions are a reflection of human limitations, a convenience for social negotiation and a refuge from the truth.  And yet, they impede opportunities  for the collective good and confine perception to a measurable space.

Life is so much more than that.

In the days after the Resurrection, in the tangle of loss and leaving, there is a clear invitation to see and experience life without the mantle of illusion, to experience the rawness of grief and the waves of shock to come to understanding, to put all the pieces together in an entirely new and more meaningful way.  It is oddly powerful for some, and for others, not at all significant.

Catholicism offers an unflinching invitation to walk away from the illusions and towards understanding.  It’s stories and history are a web of gains and losses on the journey; its liturgical year is a testimony to the one-step-forward, two-steps-back pattern of human growth.  It’s saints are lists of persons in search of purpose and consistency, strengths and failures.  It’s successes and failures are a mirror of the human journey.  And it’s continuity in spite of all that is a testimony to what is, what could be, possible. It is , after all,  about becoming.

Releasing illusions is just one small part of the journey.  Recognizing, naming, living and loving the truth is another.