As a middle school girl, I was a bit leery of threes, as a triad of friends often came with complications…but I suspect that was more a middle school issue than the number three. In reality, the inherent creative potential hidden within a trinity is evident throughout our universe, once we become aware. Think of an atom, with its proton, neutron and electron. Or the sun and our planet, kept in relationship by gravitational pull –– thank goodness! Or even a braid, impossible without that third strand.
Cynthia Bourgeault, one of my Living School faculty, recently published The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three. Suddenly the trinity, handed down to most of us as a dusty and confusing doctrine with a stale shelf life, becomes a liberating gateway for living our actual life. It begins with a movement forward, called an affirming force, which is met with resistance or a denying force. It is easy to get stuck in gridlock as the opposing forces cannot find a way forward. According to the Law of Three, when a third force enters, a new arising emerges, something wholly different made possible only through the combination of the three forces. She explains:
The single most liberating insight to come out of my work with the Law of Three was the realization that what appears to be the resisting or opposing force is never actually the problem to be overcome. Second force, or holy denying, is a legitimate and essential component in every new arising: no resistance, no new arising!
She continues, if the enemy is not the problem but an opportunity, then the problem will never be solved through eliminating or silencing the opposition, but by learning to hold the tension of the opposites and launch them in a new direction. Imagine what a different world it would be if these two simple precepts were internalized and enacted.
Imagine indeed. Over and over I can see the Law of Three at work in my life, although I didn’t have a name for it at the times when what I wanted was thwarted, only to have something so much better arise once I accepted and embraced the holy denying previously seen as ‘in the way.’ Now I find myself trying to recognize the tension of opposites and seeing what I can do to open space and receptivity for a third force and a new arising. It isn’t easy to do, as we are brought up to label ‘good and bad’ so quickly and, realistically, from such a limited perspective. At our last vestry meeting, we reflected together on where we see the Law of Three at work in our lives, generating a thoughtful discussion.
One way to see the Law of Three at work is in the mystery of these holy days. God, the Holy Flow, creates us to share in the joyful dance of love. Humanity denies the flow, seeking our own will, our own way instead of trusting God. Our holy denying, our ‘no’ is so complete, we even reject God-with-us. And Jesus, trusting the Holy flow—abiding in the flow—says yes, over and over again, even to our holy denying. Yes to being birthed in the Big Bang as creation, yes to being born of a woman, yes to trusting in God even through death and, in so doing, a new creation comes to life and grows for all us, showing us how to live, truly live. A new arising, a new quality of life called resurrection life, bursts forth from the tomb, awakening and transforming us. May we have eyes to see and participate in the dance all around and within.
Join in these holy days and follow Jesus in saying yes to the Holy flow, being open to the Law of Three at work in your own life.
Hope to see you Sunday,