What is the hardest thing to bear about this epidemic? Is it not being able to shop for the latest fashions? Is it having had to wait – let me see – 9 weeks to get a look at the new colour range of your favourite model of car, because the showroom has been closed for so long?
I do hope not.
Is it being able to give your loved ones a hug? Being able to put your arms around a bereaved friend in tears? Being able to connect with one another in the fully human way, which uses all our five senses, not just what Zoom can deliver? These are the things that matter – though not, apparently to our government – these are the things that the human soul longs for. Not shopping.
So why do we need this total form of connection – through sight, sound, smell, taste and touch?
And, by the way (since it’s Trinity Sunday), why is God three Persons in one God?
The answer to both questions is, bizarrely, the same.
There can only be one God. It took Einstein to prove beyond doubt that the universe was created from one single event. Not lots of different god’s making different bits – the sea, the sky, the thunder. God is a singularity. This truth was revealed to Abraham and Elijah and is confirmed by every understanding of God that doesn’t reduce the Creator to a petty, squabbling bunch of divas, living on Mount Olympus and looking alarmingly like the worst of humanity.
But what is the one thing that can’t exist with just one person? In fact, not just one thing, but the thing. It’s what God is all about, but there’s simply no way it can exist, work or grow if God is just One.
Yes, you’ve guessed it. It’s love.
You need at least two people for love to happen. Yes, we need to love ourselves, but if we only love ourselves things go …. sour (to put it politely).
And although love can, of course, exist and be healthy and alive between two, it only gets creative when there’s three or more. For the transforming love that Jesus reveals to the world to happen, you need a community – minimum three people. God is love in community. Love is the bond, the energy, the flow, the creativity, the movement, the joy between the three persons of God. One God, three Persons.
So, back to question 1. Why do we need this total connection with each other so deeply?
Is it because of something lacking in our mother’s milk? Is it because we struggle to make our mark in an alienated world?…. because we can’t be sure that we matter? No. None of these. It’s because we are God’s children, and if love is the life-force of God, then it’s going to need to be ours too.
And all life in this world is sacramental; by which I mean that we give and receive the things of God – faith, hope and love – through the things of this world – sight, sound and touch.
Yes, we have a spiritual dimension too; we can connect in ways other than our senses – we can be intuitive, empathetic, “in tune” –– but for the most part we live out the mysteries of the Triune God in our mortal expressions of love, justice and compassion. We’re human, and we need a hug.
Now I want everyone to be kept safe. But there are all kinds of ways in which we could safely give greater priority to this closeness with others – especially now that we’ve all been isolating for so long.
Our understanding of God, as well as our knowledge of human nature, cries out for this to be a much greater priority that it is at present. Shopping we can do without; love, not so much.
These things matter.