Lord, who hast form’d me out of mud,
And hast redeem’d me through thy blood,
And sanctifi’d me to do good;
Purge all my sins done heretofore:
For I confess my heavy score,
And I will strive to sin no more.
Enrich my heart, mouth, hands in me,
With faith, with hope, with charity;
That I may run, rise, rest with thee.
~George Herbert “Trinity Sunday” (modernized)
Spend your life trying to understand it, and you will lose your mind; but deny it and you will lose your soul.
St. Augustine in his work “On the Trinity”
In the Beginning, not in time or space,
But in the quick before both space and time,
In Life, in Love, in co-inherent Grace,
In three in one and one in three, in rhyme…
Our God beyond, beside us and within.
~Malcolm Guite from “Trinity Sunday”
A story has been told that Augustine of Hippo was walking on the beach contemplating the mystery of the Trinity. Then he saw a boy in front of him who had dug a hole in the sand and was going out to the sea again and again and bringing some water to pour into the hole.
Augustine asked him, “What are you doing?”
“I’m going to pour the entire ocean into this hole.”
“That is impossible, the whole ocean will not fit in the hole you have made” said Augustine.
The boy replied, “And you cannot fit the Trinity in your tiny little brain.”
I accept that my tiny brain, ever so much tinier than St. Augustine’s, cannot possibly absorb or explain the Trinity – I will not try to put the entire ocean in that small hole. The many analogies used to help human understanding of the Trinity are dangerously limited in scope:
vapor, water, ice
shell, yolk, albumin
height, width, depth
apple peel, flesh, core
past, present, future.
It is sufficient for me to know, as expressed by the 19th century Anglican pastor J.C. Ryle:
It was the whole Trinity, which at the beginning of creation said, “Let us make man”. It was the whole Trinity again, which at the beginning of the Gospel seemed to say, “Let us save man”.
All one, equal, harmonious, unchangeable, bound together with faith, with hope, with charity, to save us from ourselves.
I run, rise, rest in Thee, all Three.
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