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  • Writer's pictureMaura Rocks

Experiencing the Trinity in Community

Trinity Sunday can at once feel both mundane and inaccessible. We call upon the name of the Trinity in our prayer so often that the words, at times, can lose their meaning. And a theology student, I have entire courses devoted to the complex doctrines associated with the Trinity. I, like many, can fall into the trap of trying to understand the Trinity, when, in reality, the Trinity is something that is meant to be experienced

The Trinity can be boiled down to a phrase I heard a few months ago: “The least wrong way we’ve come up with to describe God is love.” 

The Trinity is a model and an invitation for how we are to relate to one another and to the created world. The very sinews that hold God together, that connect the three persons of the Trinity, are that of an unconditional outpouring of love. And if love is what holds God together, what does that mean for us? 

Elizabeth Johnson writes, “knowing God is impossible unless we enter into a life of love and communion with others.” After apartment hopping for most of my 20s - living with roommates and on my own - I found my way to an intentional community on Chicago’s south side. Transitioning to communal life, with chore charts, weekly meals, house meetings, and shared space was pretty rocky at first. Sharing life in such an intimate way with six strangers took time to feel natural. Navigating the complexities of unique personalities, conflicting visions, and diverse needs sometimes has felt like a second full time job. And yet, the experience of living here has been deeply beautiful and a source of immense growth. Community has taught me how to love - how to pour myself out and how to let others pour into me. 

One of my housemates, Julia, has modeled this Trinitarian love powerfully for me. She is quick to celebrate an accomplishment, comfort a heartache, and revel in a simple moment of joy. She is also willing to share her questions and dreams, ask for help when she needs it, and offer her full self, even the broken parts, in friendship with others. She has shown me the power of showing up for others, especially in moments that are painful and scary. She has reminded me of my own belovedness by claiming her own and sharing it! 

Community reminds us that we each have gifts and we each have burdens - and that they are all meant to be shared. 

When I think about the love shared in community, I often recall the Andrei Rublev icon of the Trinity - three friends gathered around a table. The Trinitarian moments in my own life look a lot like this: gathering at table, breaking bread, and sharing life. It is in these moments that love is offered and received. 

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