Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Trinity: Matters of the Soul

In the name of the Father.
Of the Son.
And of the Holy Spirit.

I must have been 2 years old the first time I invoked trinity in prayer before going to bed. I don’t remember every learning where this ritual came from and what it meant exactly. All I know is it was taught to me by my parents and it became a steady repetition all through my life: Two decades as a practicing Roman Catholic and two decades as a traditionalist.

At the age of 12 years old I remember privately and personally changing the prayer to suit my own journey. By then, I had steadily become interested in Native Spirituality and it seemed to make more sense to invoke the name of the Mother, the daughter and the Holy Spirit. I was emerging as a young woman and I wanted to be connected to the Earth, to the other women around me, to my mother, to my sister and to all of my female friends. I was looking to understand the feminine. From the age of 6 years old to the age of 18 years old I went to school at the convent. I spent 12 years learning, healing and growing with girls only. It made sense to me that our prayers be more about our journey and our growth process.

Trinity is an important concept in Christianity; but it is also explored in Indigenous circles. All over the world indigenous people have understood the soul as being part moon, part totem and part ancestral. Even Carl Jung speaks of trinity when discussing the human psyche. Who hasn’t learnt or heard about the ego, personal unconscious, and collective unconscious? Personally, I’ve searched to understand trinity by looking at the concepts of identity, basic nature and spiritual essence.

I’ve noticed how countless individuals will unconsciously identify themselves to fears, programs, and expectations.

“I don’t like speaking in public that’s just what I am.”
“I like to smoke up every weekend and hang out with the guys that’s what I am.”
“I love shoes and spending money that’s what I am.”
“I would never get an abortion that’s ME that’s what I am.”

How many times have you heard such comments from loved ones, friends and acquaintances? The fact of the matter is our behaviors, our attitudes, and our perceptions may help us in self-discovery and in personal growth but they are elements of our lives that can and do change. We may identify ourselves to these external sources but they are not our identity. When we explore the concept of identity we are looking at what makes us who we are from the inside out rather than other way around. I often tell people “if it’s peers, parents, society, judgments or fears that are deciding who you are then you know you can do better because Creator gave each and everyone of us medicine that is our very own: Free will that answers to US (our identity, our basic nature and our spiritual essence).”

In Christianity trinity is all about GOD but in indigenous or shamanic traditions it’s more about the soul, which can be understood as the god-goddess part of us. I’ve gotten a lot out of exploring the soul from these three points of view: Moon, totem and ancestor.

I tend to see trinity as live memory. It lives in our genes and it lives in our brain, our heart, our living cells, our thoughts and our feelings.

• We are human.
• We are animal.
• We are spirit.

GP mentioned last week as I discussed this topic with him that it’s true that he often struggles with his humanity, his animal instinct and his spiritual journey. Several years ago, I met an elderly man at the dialysis department of the hospital. As far as he was concerned he was dying.

“I’m not a religious man” he told me, “but I get how confessing your sins could be a relief especially before death.”

I learnt his doctor and nurses gave him the opportunity to speak with the hospital pastoral personnel; but after a few visits he would clam up and eventually ask to be left alone. I remember watching him sit in silence, looking out the window while he went through dialysis. Our first connection just told me he was introspecting; but with time I realized that introspection had become a nightmare. He was sad and tortured. We came across each other a few times during the course of a few weeks. Each time he smiled at me and shared a bit more about himself. I just listened.

I came to understand that his wife had died of cancer almost a decade earlier and that during the course of her illness he had approached other women for affection. He seemed to judge himself harshly over some of his life choices.

“I should have been more present. I should have been stronger. I should have been there for her rather than looking for people to be there for me.”

I heard through his words that his spirit self or ancestral self was judging his totemic self. There seemed to be a lot of guilt, a lot of regret and a lot shame going around between the different parts of his Trinity.

“You must think I’m an old fool or a pervert,” he said to me one afternoon as if my opinion meant something to him. I remember shaking my head back and forth as if the different parts of my own Trinity were fighting to talk first. It took me a few seconds before I finally got up and kissed him on the cheek. He looked up at me blushing. His eyes filled up with tears and his hands started to shake.

“You’re sad, you’re hurt, you’re lonely, you’re afraid, and you’re looking to be understood,” I said to him with a wink.
“You lived a good life, “ I reminded him and got him talking about all of the great moments.

Theologians will tell you that the father, the son and the holy spirit are three independent parts of God. I’ve experienced Trinity as the different parts of my inner divinity. We are children of a higher force part cosmology, part nature and part human: Mystery or Divinity. Our humanity is constantly challenged by spiritual dilemmas. Who doesn’t doubt their inner knowing and ignores their instincts every now and again? No matter how much we strive to be “perfect” according to society or religion the fact of the matter is our life story brings us to explore our identity, our basic nature and our spiritual essence. I don’t think these three different dimensions of our inner divinity are meant to think alike, sense and feel alike. I think they are meant to complete each other.

I always made a connection between TRINITY, the Way of the Cross, and the Sun Dance. For me it’s always implied bringing consciousness to my life’s journey. Part of it is understanding that life is about challenges and suffering; but none of it is about me being unworthy or reprimanded. It’s about dancing the circle of life and leaving parts of me behind while I’m growing and transforming into a being of light: Medicine, Grace and Holiness.

Today trinity has changed yet again for me. When I touch my forehead and connect it to my umbilical cord I utter the words in the Name of the Red Road these days. By the time I touch my heart and bring my hand across my chest I’ve whispered the words: May my heart beat guide me home to the Holy Spirit. No matter how we explore the idea of trinity it seems to always come back to the essence of God, Creator and /or divinity. What does it mean to grow up in the image of our divine parent (father)? To grow up surrounded, influenced and cared for by kin (son)? And to finally seek or strive to learn, to heal and to grow (holy spirit)? Trinity brings me to look into the matters of the soul and to show me where I come from, where I’m heading and what’s the infinite possibilities.


P.S. It's Holy Week (Easter coming up on Sunday) - and everyone is talking about it. Christian influences have inspired this blog this year.


Lili said...

I have posted twice and its lost but in a nutshell, i feel so abundant. Thank You for the words you share Lisa, I love hearing you speak. The way you describe the Trinity enables me to understand things so much clearer.I loved your story it touched me. I love your reaction to his story.
I feel blessed to be a part of our community and feel blessed to know you.

Fishrarr said...

Very interesting story Lisa, I enjoy it very much. It does make me wonder also about the number 3. I find that the number 3 is very powerful and it seems to connect to a lot of things. Prehaps when we think of any thing in 3's, we are connecting with all the parts of god or compassionate spirits on many levels. Ho!

Emily said...

:) Your words are very nourishing.
Thank you!


Michelle said...

Religion has been a topic of interest in our family this past Easter son (16) has alot of questions about God/Creator It has been fun asking him what he believes not what he has been told to believe. I think he will enjoy this Blog I know I have!
Thanks Okwaho!

Nancy said...

OK this may be a strange question but you said we are human, animal and spirit. I see the spirit and the animal I think but what makes humans different from animals in your view. I mean really like opposible thumbs I guess but is that what you mean? Thanks for your time.