I road the bus to Janskerkhof this morning and realized for the first time that I didn’t need to think about where I was going and when I should get off. My body had memorized the pattern of starts and turns and stops that take me from my dormitory to the University. When I didn’t need to concentrate on the pattern, I could look out the window and notice what I was passing.
I was beginning to see more of what was around me. On the bus, I noticed the cyclists poised to sprint from the spot where they and the bus were waiting for the light to change. As I ordered my pre-lecture latte, I noticed the biscuits on the expresso bar. I asked the barista, “How much do the biscuits cost?” “They don’t cost a thing; they come with the latte,” she replied.
The Trinity (God, Christ, Holy Spirit) is an example of a pattern that lets us see. This threefold formula—the pattern of mystery, possibility, and freedom—at first memorized and later unfailingly lodged in our psychic structures, allows us to look beyond ourselves and see what is real in life. These code words are saying, in essence, “What seems to be other is actually a wonder; what is close at hand is truly open to the unexpected; what appears to be settled is really subject to my choice.”
Thus, “The Trinity” is, in the first instance, not a belief or a doctrine, but an existential hypothesis, based on observation, about the way life is. These few words call attention to and make a prediction about the reliability of a pattern that millions have observed to be inherent in the universe: all is mystery, all is possibility, and how we relate to it all is amenable to personal choice.
The amazing thing is that all of the mystery, every bit of the possibility, and each and every opportunity to decide in freedom, come as a part of the package: no extra charge. All we have to do to take advantage of what’s given is to ask someone who has noticed it to point it out—and then to avail ourselves of what’s on offer.
I love this sort of universe: that I can journey through, observe at close range, and adopt as my own—friend, informant, and teacher.