Once an elderly gentleman was taking his usual evening walk. He was enjoying the cool night air and the gentle breeze. Suddenly he heard a voice crying out, “Help me! Help me!” The man looked around and saw no one so he continued his walk.
Again he heard a tiny voice, “Help me, help me!” This time he looked down and he saw a small frog. He gently lifted up the frog and looked at it intently. The frog spoke, “I am really a very beautiful princess. If you will kiss me, I will turn back into a princess. Then I will hug you, kiss you and love you forever.”
The man thought for a moment, placed the frog in his coat pocket, and continued walking. The little frog looked up out of his pocket and asked, “Why don’t you kiss me?” The man looked down and said, “To be honest, at this stage of my life, I’d rather have a talking frog.”
The point of this story is that we all exist in relationship to others. The nature and style of our relationships are vital in determining who we are and how we live out our values. Who we are in relation to others defines our very existence.
One of the great success stories with people in long-term care facilities is pet therapy. Being able to go out of themselves to an animal – whether it’s a cat, a dog, or a rabbit – has a healing effect on people. Similarly, infants desperately need others to survive. All human experience is a shared experience. Our relationships mold us for good or for evil.
Think about the best experiences of your life. What were they? Did they deal with a lover, a friend, a parent or someone else who maybe had a special place in your life? That was the person with whom you could open up and be yourself completely without any psychological masks or pretense. That person could appreciate and share things that were really significant for you.
All of us have had times when we were discouraged, alone, abandoned or depressed. Then someone came along and perhaps said nothing spectacular, but their presence was special to us for one simple reason. We desperately need companionship, to be able to break out of ourselves.
Being deprived of companionship is the worst possible punishment. That is exactly what solitary confinement is in prisons. The lack of companionship can even lead to insanity. Having no relationships can be a terrible and troubling state of mind.
So why do we need to be in constant relationship to others? Because we are made in the image and likeness of God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. No matter how little we may know about the Trinity, we can say without hesitation that the Three Persons exist in relationship to one another.
God the Father loves God the Son with such a depth that God the Holy Spirit exists as an expression of that love. The Trinity is God in community, and that’s the relationship we desperately seek. The Trinity says that God is love and so we yearn for love. We cannot help ourselves. We are made in God’s image and likeness. We mirror our origins.
So if someone asks you to explain the Trinity, you can respond without hesitation: “The Trinity is the relationship of God the Father with God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Because I have been created in the image and likeness of God, I can only exist in relationship with others. I am who I am because God is who God is.”
St. Catherine of Siena prayed: “You, Eternal Trinity, are my Creator, and I am the work of your hands. I know through the new creation that you have given me in the blood of your Son, that you are enamored of the beauty of your handiwork.” We act according to whose we are!