Third Way

I have to write a blog today. I am frustrated by my schedule of the last few months. Too packed with commitments and, most important, finishing a writing project. So blogging has gone by the wayside. But I have so much to say. I thought I could satisfy my need to make comment about life in this place we call the world by commenting on Facebook or forwarding cool spiritual snippets that reflect my own spiritual views. But, as it turns out, this is not satisfactory. Somehow, I am going to have to find time to blog.

This morning, I read something in Richard Rohr’s book, The Divine Dance, that prompted me to write. Like every American, I have been distressed by the divisiveness that permeates our country right now. We were divided before but never has this chasm been so blatantly in our national face. It hurts. The differences are breaking families and friendships apart. It makes me think of the Civil War when men were forced to take up arms against their own siblings or Nazi Germany when neighbors were called to betray neighbors. Unless we put a check on our own selves, such an extreme outcome is a real concern.

Rohr’s book is about the Holy Trinity. I struggled to get his drift about why believing in this ancient doctrine is so important. This morning I read why Rohr thinks that believing in the Trinity changes how we look at life in general. (Any theology fails to get down to the living level for me, I tend to discard it, or at least put it on a shelf for future consideration.) Here he uses the example of political differences. The way we view the world is that there are two sides to everything. In politics it is the right and left or conservative and liberal. This is not a Trinitarian view, he says. One might think of a stool with only two legs, bound to fall over and crash. Trinitarian thinking believes in a third way. We may not know the third way, but we can believe that it is there. We of faith believe it because we believe in a God of love. So, even in the midst of discord, we can trust that given time and willingness to not let our differences separate us for good, we go forward waiting for God to intervene.

Rohr writes: Trinitarian thinking, thinking in terms of three-ness instead of two-ness, “means that we can hold our first-force or second-force perpectives (our deeply held opinions) with earnestness, while fully awaiting a third force to arrive and surprise us all out of our neat little boxes.” He gives some examples but I think a clear one is when a natural disaster such as a flood or fire brings neighbors together in service to one another, neighbors who the day before may have felt actual hatred due to their differences.

One of the things I am noticing among those around me who are resisting what we believe a dangerous turn in the way our country is going, is that there a voices that speak of building bridges. You know the chant, “Build bridges, not walls”. There are those who take this very seriously and are seeking ways to come together with people of opposing political opinions to come to a deeper understanding of why they believe what they do. Listen, learn, allow yourself to be changed. See the commonalities, the deeper yearnings that we share. When I see this, I think I am witnessing Rohr’s third way emerging.

It reminds me of that moment during World War I or II (can’t remember), when German and American troops in opposite bunkers came together on Christmas Eve to share their faith through the singing of Christmas Carols. These men got a glimpse of the third way that night. “Silent Night, Holy Night”.

There is a third way besides the divisiveness we are witnessing in our country today. Those of us who believe in it need to find ways to live it and in living it, bring it to fruition. The Lord’s Prayer that Jesus gave us says, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The kingdom of love doesn’t happen by some intervention from the cosmos. It comes when those of us who are of the earth live it by our word and actions.