Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"The sound of voices three..."

"This is the sound of voices three.
Singing together in harmony.
Surrendering to the mystery.
This is the sound of voices three..."

I love sound of three voices singing in harmony. And the Wailin' Jennys' "Once Voice" speaks to a "something deeper," that keeps me coming back for more and more.

We see a persistent insistence for this "trinity-in-unity" throughout history. It surfaces in spiritual practices, language, design, nature, and culture.

There is an almost unparalleled example of balance found in a three-legged stool. It has informed organizations and institutions for centuries. My daughters' school often refers to the relationship between the school, the student, and parents as the "three-legged stool," and as an optimal educational model.

In many Christian churches there is reference the holy trinity as: Father, son, and Holy Ghost. In Buddhism there is the Trikaya (three bodies) of Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Nirmanakaya -- which one Buddhist friend explained as Principle, Consciouness, and embodiment.

My own faith tradition, Christian Science, frequently refers to the seven names for God, Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth, and Love, in triads: Truth, Life, and Love, or Principle, Mind, Spirit -- for example.

I see it in my daughters' relationships. As twins, there is a dynamic that can move from devotion to indifference in the blink of an eye, when they are alone together. But, add in a third -- a friend to both of them -- and there is such sweetness, creativity, and joy. All competition and comparison seems to disappear as they work together. It seems to bring with it such amazing synchronicity of thought, energy, and desire (another triad by the way).

In Ecclesiastes there is a proverb that reads:

"...a threefold cord is not quickly broken."

I love this. I love thinking of it as both a cord (as in rope or twine), as well as a chord (as in a combination of notes in music). For years I've practiced a spiritual version of three-part harmonies that has helped to strengthen my understanding of God. Recently someone asked me to explain it in a post. So, here goes.

I start with one name for God. Say, Love. I add in a second name. For the purpose of this exercise let's take Principle. Since these terms are synonymous, Love must imply Principle. So, for me that means that when I am loving (as an expression of Love) I must also be orderly, precise, acting in accordance with the laws of nature -- evolving naturally from a core strength, be flexible as well as deeply rooted. And the same for Principle. My expression of orderliness and law, must be kind, compassionate, charitable.

This relationship between Principle and Love is wonderful, it dances in my heart. It bounces back and forth with sweet reciprocity. But that back and forth bouncing can become a bit pendular -- swinging to extremes. That's where the practice of a divine "trinity in unity" is so vital for me.

So, I have this great duet -- a lovely relationship between Love and Principle -- but what happens when I add in a third note to that chord. Again, for the purpose of this exercise, I'm going to choose Spirit. When I add Spirit into the mix something extraordinary happens. Spirit cannot be contained, "bounded, nor compressed within the narrow limits" of a single relationship.

Spirit, like the wind [pneuma] -- that it is named after -- animates, suffuses, and expands the reach of my spiritual practice. Now, my Principle-structured, Love-deepened dance of affection has a new reach and depth. It becomes charity. But it is a charity that is never out of control, because of it's relationship to Principle. It is never selfish because of its grounding in Love, and it radiates outward with each breath of Spirit.

Sometimes I will just spend hours -- between calls, visits, appointments, chauffeuring the girls, and housework -- deepening my understanding of God by exploring different triadic themes and chords within the infinite breadth of His nature.

There are times when I get bolder. I might add in a fourth voice -- a fifth, a sixth, a seventh -- until I have a full choir of Him in my heart. A symphony that is always playing in the universe of Being.

We are never limited. There are an infinite number of names for God, found in countless languages, philosophies, and indigenous cultures. Therefore there is always a chorus of infinite voices singing His name and nature, His power and glory, within us. But for me -- well, I'm a simple girl. I really love those three-part harmonies. They allow me to focus in on the simple sweetness of His presence in my heart.

I offer this with always,  


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