I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
This week we celebrate the Trinity.
Cynthia Bourgeault describes the Trinity as “love in motion.” Love in motion is the “inner big bang” of God that creates the “outer big bang” of creation. I like that. It’s not only a great way to describe the Trinity, but also a great way to describe mission. Mission is love in motion.
In this week’s text Jesus graciously spares us a theological explanation of the mystery we call Trinity. Jesus knows that our souls want experience more than anything, not explanation, even if it comes from the mouth of God! Instead, our rabbi says, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” What kindness! I wish some of my professors had shared that disposition.
Instead of explaining the mystery, he sends his Spirit to “guide” us (v. 13). The Spirit is our companion as we experience life. Jesus’ approach matches reality. We undergo life long before we understand it, and even then, it’s mostly by hints and guesses. Unfortunately, our educational system is often at odds with this notion. It prioritizes theory over practice. We do the calculations, draft a plan, and then apply it to the problem we are trying to solve. This approach works well when building a bridge, or a skyscraper.
However, most of life does not work that way. We don’t figure it out and then live it. We live it and then maybe, just maybe, little by little, we start to figure things out. That’s the way of love in motion. We
What follows is a bit of a leap. Bear with me. In my experience, love in motion is a lot like laughter. There is nothing quite like a good laugh— the kind that comes in waves and is shared with friends. It is a full body experience that involves our whole being— body and soul. It involves community too, for we rarely laugh alone. I imagine that the outer big bang of laughter begins with the inner big bang of joy. That’s love in motion. Far fetched?
Perhaps this week’s Old Testament lectionary text will help. Proverbs 8 gives a privileged look inside the inner big bang of God. “Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence,” (Prov. 8:30). The word “rejoicing” is the Hebrew word sachaq, which means “to laugh.” Quite literally, we are created in laughter, and laughter is born of “delight.” The word “delight” is shaashuim, whose root meaning is “playful joy!” Yes, joy is the inner big bang of creation. We are God’s laughter in the world, born of joy. If we must be formulaic: The Father smiles with abundant joy in our soul. The Son giggles with delight in our body. The Spirit laughs with contagious love in the world. Or maybe it’s the reverse. All I know is that laughter is love in motion. It involves our whole being, and once it starts, it is difficult to stop.
Here’s the challenge. As Voltaire said, “God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.” Who can blame us if we lose our sense of humor, especially when confronted with great suffering? And yet, even in the midst of great suffering, joy is at work calling forth new life. There is a great line in King Lear that puts it this way, “The worst returns to laughter.” I’ve witnessed it. I’ve experienced it. Every once in a while, even as things fall apart, we see joy revealing itself in the soul of things. We smile. Perhaps it’s a broken smile, but we smile. As joy becomes incarnate we get the giggles. The giggles give way to laughter, and we fall madly in love with the world again.
That’s love in motion – the inner big bang in the midst of suffering produces the outer big bang of abundant life.