The Circle of Life

Many people tend to think of life in rigid, binary terms. For example, something is either good or bad, right or wrong, male or female, etc. In our churches, we are quick to create rules that define what is acceptable and what is not; or we create walls that allow certain people in while keeping others out.

Even when it comes to theology, we try to put our beliefs about God into neat little boxes. Throughout history, humans have invented neat theological phrases to try and define God. While these are certainly helpful at times, they can sometimes get in the way of our growing understanding about God and the world.

One of the ways that we define God is by referring to the Holy Trinity of Father, Spirit and Son. This is a helpful way of understanding God as an interpersonal, relational God who is present in three persons.

However, one of the problems that comes with this model is that we tend to associate the Trinity with a triangular, pyramid shape. This creates a hierarchal model that usually puts God the Father at the top with Jesus and the Spirit in a subservient position below. This gives us a false understanding of the Trinity.

Alternatively, the early church fathers claimed that the closest metaphor we can get for the three persons of God is a circular dance of communion. It's not hierarchical at all. I personally prefer this metaphor. It helps us understand that all three persons of the Trinity are in constant communion and perfect relationship with each other, rather than one ruling over the others.

I think that a circle is a more fitting image when describing much of life. It is true that life is not always straight lines or neat squares and triangles as we would sometimes like. 

Perhaps we could think of God's kingdom too as an ever-expanding circle. People are constantly being sucked in to this great story that we are a part of. No-one is excluded except those who choose to keep themselves out. 

I love the way that Randy Woodley puts it:

"Life is a sacred circle. When we gather in a circle, the praying has already begun. When we gather in a circle, we communicate with each other and with Great Mystery, even without a word being spoken."

"It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in."

- Isaiah 40:22

Image source: Beth Macdonald


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