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Athlete, Philosopher, Artist

We are all athletes, because we have a body.

We are all philosophers, because we think.

We are all artists, because we create.

We are three in one.

Our body declines and we battle to sustain it.

Our mind forgets and we battle to remember.

Our imagination creates anew.

What we have always done and the plans we had, we re-imagine,

to accomplish what we never knew or dreamed we could do.


Three in One

Have you seen the DQ Duckie?

Have you seen the ducks at Dairy Queen?

Ducks come in all flavors. Dipped and regular.

Ducks come in all flavors. Dipped and regular.

See them? Go ahead. Look carefully. See the eye, the beak, the fluffy little body? You see it now, right? Had you seen it before?

I can’t go to Dairy Queen without seeing them now. Just for the record, I do love Dairy Queen. Don’t frequent the place, but there’s one along the bike trail and I am all about the rewards after a good day of riding.

And that store, right along the W&OD Trail was where my eyes were first opened – to the duck. Our family sat at a small table, just beneath the advertising poster on the wall of the store. Our pre-school-aged daughter Olivia pointed to the sign and said, “Look at the duckie!”

We looked, but no, we didn’t see it. She insisted, pointing and describing the details. She wasn’t making this up. Right there in the ice cream, she saw the duckie. And finally, looking as if through her eyes, we saw it too. All the little ice cream swirls completed the heads and beaks and big duckie eyes.

Children see with different eyes. Eyes that haven’t already decided “what something is.” They are open in a way adult eyes don’t seem to be. But even in adults the child-like eyes are still there. I know because, with her help, my eyes could see it as she did. It wasn’t hidden. It just wasn’t apparent until I had a bit of help.

I think the eyes of faith are this way. Sometimes we just need a bit of help seeing what’s already there. Like an Escher painting, we need a shift in perspective to see what we didn’t initially see. Once we see it, it’s obvious. But we may need someone sitting at our table to point it out to us.

This week I heard someone say the Trinity is like this: God above us, God beside us, God within us. I probably have heard that before but it never quite struck me this way. That Christ is the “God beside us” –  opening the scriptures to us, imploring us, giving us strength, helping us see – opening our eyes to what’s obvious to Him but not yet to us.

I know the trinity is a sticking point between me and my Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters. The divinity of Christ, his membership with the three, the part He plays in connecting me with God the Father and God the Spirit, is not known to them. They don’t know “God beside them,” just above and within. The Lord and Father they know compels them to incredible obedience – just as that same Father does me. I just have the Son, beside me, who I too often take for granted, pointing the way.

I wonder how many times He has said, “Don’t you see?” And I haven’t. Or I haven’t heard Him. Or I just looked the other way. He is in the perspective-changing business, and He’s all about the opening of eyes. For some I imagine it isn’t till the end of things that His presence allows them to make the triune connection. Of course then any child could see it.

2 May Be Company and 3, a Crowd, but 4 is a Relay

We Methodists do like to think, but I’m one day back from the beach and Pastor Tom tackles the Trinity…Really?

I remember being taught that our minds couldn’t think two things at the same time. The teacher challenged us to try it. I still remember struggling to hold onto one image while introducing a different one. The best I could do was to leap from one thought to the other. Quickly, for sure, but never at the same time. It made my brain hurt.

So I experienced some of this same exasperation during Sunday worship, trying once again to wrap my mind around One God in Three Persons. Not sequential, not divided in thirds, but simultaneous. One Being who, when called upon in prayer, says “yes” in three voices all at once. (I like that thought anyway – not sure if it’s theologically accurate.)

But Tom helped me out here, or perhaps it was Jesus to the rescue, when he mentioned a relay. Tom did say God was not like that. Not one racer passing the baton to the next. But I immediately pictured the young, beautiful, powerful women racing to a new world record in the 4X100 meter relay. (Yes, the excitement was spoiled ahead of time by my social media feed but anyway…)

I imagined what it must have been like for those ladies, especially the one running the anchor leg. Now, I have never been too fast on my feet but I was decent swimmer in my heyday. So I was remembering the times when the swim meet was to be decided by the last relay. Each swimmer in turn would launch themselves into the pool and swim as fast as they possibly could. And each, heaving with effort, dragged themselves out and then screamed  encouragement to the swimmers who followed. If the volume of our collective voices could impel them, it would. Everything was on the line, it seemed to our little summer swim relay, and the spirit of the three of us would bring that anchor leg home. Somehow I always swam faster in the relay than I ever did in an individual event.

So if was a bit distracted sitting there in the pew I was imagining that 100 meter champion in the final leg of the relay sprinting down the straight away toward the finish line. She was full of power and exerting herself with every ounce of strength. She is beauty in motion. But her effort is not just her own. She is absolutely bursting with the hopes and urgings of the three women who have run before her. We can’t see it, but carrying that baton she is more than she is.

And that just doesn’t add up, does it? But, even in my tiny world of summer swim club competition, I know it’s true. I’ve been there.

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