Trinity Sunday, 12th June 2022
Upon those who step into the same rivers different and different waters flow.
This is Adam Nicholson’s translation of a famous quote from the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. Now, Adam Nicholson has had great fun in recent years creating a succession of rock pools on the shores of a sea loch on the Scottish west coast; just to study the succession of life that takes place over time and just the sort of thing I’d love to do if nearer the coast, so I have to make do with ponds instead. But the result is the same – nothing remains static and nothing is the same from one pond or rock pool to another over time; changing time is indeed the only constant. And yet there is order of sorts somehow in the midst of this constant change: the tension between all the various forces – both accurate and inaccurate – creates a sort of stability or better, coherence. Adam likens it to keeping a sailing boat upright and on course despite wind and tides coming at it from all directions – it’s
a model of the stable disequilibrium at the heart of things’(p159 The Sea is not made of Water)
he says and as he sails his boat
I am the governor for a moment, holding in tension the competing pressures
And if he knows what he is doing and pays attention the boat stays upright. A moment’s inattention however and the boat can readily flip over, reach a tipping point from which there is no return. Like everything else his attention to the boat has to be creative – a constant monitoring and deciding to do this or that and Adam likens this to Heraclitus’s discovery that
creative acts of uncertainty are dependent on an overarching control in the logos. An overall authority which in human terms might be called the rule of law, is the only thing which can allow diversity to flower.
For a Christian this is extremely suggestive, especially on this Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, and its readings which say so much about God’s creative play with and in the Universe and our part too as co-creators, let loose as it were to play in God’s creation. For as we might say it’s God’s focus on creation which stops the whole of creation from suddenly flipping over so it’s our focus on Christ which now enables God to maintain creation’s necessary state of stable disequilibrium – in Christ we have our hand on the tiller now – a frightening responsibility if it were not for our knowing that it is Christ, that it is God, who remains in charge. Our job in this respect is to let God be God by surrendering the tiller to Christ. Where the Trinity comes in is that this perhaps is the very model by which God operates as God , as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, at least towards us – engendering a state of stable disequilibrium which we otherwise know as life. We need to hold on to Christ now more than ever to steer us through these difficult times and to find a creative way forward.