In Western society, the root of much thinking comes from a history dominated by the Christian tradition. Up until very recently, and perhaps in some places still, Christianity provided the basis for what cultures consider normal. And often the normative quickly becomes regarded as regular, bland, and even boring. But all one must do is delve beyond the surface and participate in Christian worship or celebration, to find a mystical world full of intricate symbolism and meaning. There is nothing ordinary or boring about it, its awe-inspiring and mind-bending.
For those that think Christianity is dull or vanilla, one need look no further than the Trinity for a sharp example to the contrary. This monotheistic religion finds one in three and three in one. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The divine is expressed in three separate notions, and yet simultaneously viewed as one, ultimate power. To outsiders the Trinity could be regarded as a gross impossibility or contradiction. But to me it’s the ultimate source of mysticism in the Christian tradition.
There is nothing simple or straight-forward about this. For Christians, it is a truth that can boggle the brain. Or it can be an exercise in faith. For believers, it is a reality that does not allow for easy answers. There are no neat categories here. This is a story that cannot be told in only black and white. It’s an area of murky mystery. Rather than absolutes, this is a both / and scenario. God is both three and one. God is both fierce and loving. God is both high above and here with us. God is spirit and flesh. It’s an illustration of the divine’s complexity and all-inclusiveness, its prevalence in every aspect of life and human understanding. The Trinity diminishes the relevance of our human-made categories, and provides the foundation of Christianity’s boundary breaking. Christians are charged to continue this work of boundary breaking: welcoming all to God’s table, working to bring in God’s heavenly kingdom on earth. Christianity is far from simple. It takes on the unexpected with both its practice and its theological roots. Christianity is not a bore, but an intriguing mystery down to its core.