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Trinity as Hair Braid

Although many of us have grown up gratefully with St. Patrick's cloverleaf image of the Trinity -- three leaves making up one clover leaf -- there is always room for some new imagery as well. My favorite model of the Trinity is that it is like a child's pigtail. If the Trinity is seen as a plait -- three equal strands, smoothly interrelated -- there are some advantages. Firstly, you can tear one of the leaves off a clover threesome and leave the other two still related, but if you pull one of the strands out of a plait, the whole thing collapses. Inasmuch as there is a Trinitarian God, this threefold revelation makes perfect sense, and obviously the same thing applies: You cannot have any two of the sources without the third because the whole thing falls apart. At times, when plaiting, it is important to look at the whole pigtail and check that the hair has been reasonably accurately divided into three. Both the orthodox churches of the East and the charismatic movement have suggested that perhaps the mainstream churches of the West have become excessively Christocentric -- that their emphasis on the second person of the Trinity has made the pigtail somewhat lopsided. In the same way, I would suggest that perhaps we have allowed the strand of revelation in creation to get rather too skinny; that God's role as Creator and sustainer of the universe needs some fleshing out, some extra weight.

- Sara Maitland, A Big Enough God (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1995), pp. 15-16.

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