Strange fish, the leafy seadragon. It can’t seem to make up its mind: plant or animal?
Or more accurately, I suppose: I can’t quite make up my mind about the nature of the beast. I doubt the seadragon spends much time considering its essence at all.
It simply is.
And: Incredible it is.
That’s what I walked away thinking when we viewed the local specimen at the St. Louis Aquarium not long ago – two curious grandsons in tow.
Such an over-the-top animal is the seadragon. So bizarre and fascinating and mind-bending, all at the same time. I mean, really: If the leafy seadragon didn’t exist, would we count it a loss? The seas are already teeming with remarkable lifeforms, large and small. Why add this little phantasm to the mix?
At least part of the answer seemed to stir in my heart today, as I considered the great feast we celebrate – the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity – and as I reflected on the inadequacy of the words we use to describe this great feast. The names we give this awesome God we worship. The titles and descriptors we use: one God, whose nature is three “persons” – Father, Son and Spirit.
All of which is true of God, but on some level wholly inadequate to the task of comprehensively representing God. Kind of like calling the leafy seadragon “a fish.”
Surely, we need these words: “One God, Three Persons.” They help us arrive at the important point about God, the key teaching Jesus desired to give us – that God wants a relationship with us. At the same time, I’m intrigued by the idea the Psalmist conveys in our responsorial psalm today:
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made;
by the breath of his mouth all their host.
For he spoke, and it was made;
he commanded, and it stood forth.
God is indeed beyond creation, beyond the constructs of our wildest imagination. God speaks…and in speaking, seems to delight in doing more than is needed – witness the leafy seadragon.
And when we pause to take it all in – all the magnificent heavens and the stupendous diversity of their hosts – God also delights to see the wonder in our eyes.
Perhaps that’s what relationship – what the Love of the Trinity – is all about.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.