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The Trinity as Sea, Harbor, and Wave
The doctrine of the Trinity can be confusing to believers, and ridiculous to non-believers. Some skeptics even go so far as to claim that Christians are polytheists, believing in more than one God.
Nothing could be further from the truth, although the concept of the Trinity is admittedly hard to grasp when you think about it in linear, humanistic terms. If you’re one of those people struggling to understand (or are simply curious), let’s play with a few images to help you grasp this concept a bit better.
Think of the ocean, vast and mysterious, deep and profound. The expanse of this Great Sea is uncharted, with areas unreachable by human intercession or comprehension, with mystical realms we can’t fathom. We can only understand the Great Sea on a limited level due to its enormous reaches and our inadequate human capabilities.
God the Father, the first person in the Christian Trinity, can be thought of as the Great Sea.
“You, eternal Trinity, are a deep sea: The more I enter you, the more I discover, and the more I discover, the more I seek you.”
(St. Catherine of Siena, Dialogue 167)
Jesus, through the pure and total surrender of the Incarnation, is the Harbor who moves from—and to—the Great Sea.
The Harbor is a part of the Sea, and shares the same Water—the same essence—yet it’s still the Harbor rather than the vast and often unfathomable expanse of the deep Sea.
The Harbor is the interior aspect of the wider Sea, more intimate and thus more reachable. This personal aspect of the Sea allows us to feel and taste the salty the vastness of the greater Sea (Matt. 5:13), while at the same time enclosing us an embrace of personal unity.
Many aspects of the Sea are incomprehensible, and that’s why we must go through the Harbor before we can reach the deep Sea. We need help to even begin comprehending just a small piece of something so vast and beautifully mysterious. The only way to reach the Great Sea is through the Harbor; that’s why it was created, for us and for us alone. The Sea doesn’t require the Harbor, but we do, because need a place to moor our boats.
The Living Water of the Sea and the Harbor are consubstantial, of the same essence, constantly flowing in and out from each other, exchanging and blending, melding and molding. The action that propels this influx and inflow is the movement of the Waves, ever shifting inward toward the Harbor, outward toward the Sea, exchanging and infiltrating, completely blending; One and the Same. The Waves keep the action of the Sea moving, and also consist of their same essence, the same Living Water.
These Waves are the Holy Spirit, the aspect of the Trinity that manifests in action, reaction, and continuous physical motivation.
Yet there’s another component to this Holy Living Trinity which we must not forget, and that is the Lighthouse. The Lighthouse is in the Trinity, but not of the Trinity. She is not of the same substance, yet she’s so close to the Source as to be fully alive within it.
When the Dark Night closes in on us, when all we can see is the fog and clouds, we forget where we are on the vast Sea, and we forget where the Harbor is. Dangers lurk in the darkness, rocks which can destroy our vessels. It’s during these times that we turn to the Lighthouse for guidance. By her pure light, the Harbor is suddenly illuminated. She reveals where the rocks are so we can avoid them, so we can steer back into the safe confines of the Harbor. She points the Way, she guides us back home.
The Lighthouse is our Lady.
Mary, Mother of God, pray for us. Amen.
The Lighthouse acts as a beacon, pointing travelers toward the safety of the interior—the Heart—of the Harbor, where they can dock their ships for rest.
The Lighthouse warns travelers of dangerous rocks, boulders which will destroy their ships if they go off course. The Lighthouse helps them to re-align their path, to find the Harbor when all they can see is fog. Even if they’re traveling on the Sea—as we all are—but don’t realize it, the Lighthouse aids in that realization and brings them home. The one aim, goal, and desire of the Lighthouse is to keep travelers away from the dangerous rocks and steer them safely into the Harbor. Although the Lighthouse is beautiful, graceful, and shining—quite a sight to behold—she makes it clear that she isn’t our goal. Certainly we can admire her beauty, and we should appreciate her pure, blazing light, but she always makes her purpose known.
Our Lady’s purpose is to lead us into the Harbor.
Although it’s true that we all have our beinghood within the Sea, the difference between the Mother and us is that she—the Lighthouse—is grounded in the Water. Stationed at the cusp of the Great Sea and the Harbor, the Lighthouse is solid, unmoving even in the fiercest storms, which are our sacred sufferings. Her foundation reaches to the bottom of the Sea floor, unwavering and solid. We, on the other hand, are boats, floating along while trying to avoid the hazards of the rocks and the debris, seeking to moor in the safety of the Harbor.
The vast Sea of the Father, the intimate Harbor of the Son, and the active Waves of the Holy Spirit, are all the same Living Water, but with different aspects to help us along our divine path to unity with The One Who Is. The Lord, Our God, is but One God ... and we must be of one self in order to realize this. We are the ones who are not, but in the Living Water, we finally Become.
(©Jenny duBay, Rockland ME Breakwater)
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