Friday, July 26, 2013

The Trinities of Trinidad

The town of Trinidad, California was so named because Spanish explorers on June 11, 1775 discovered, claimed and performed a Mass here on the feast day of the Holy Trinity. Of course, the indigenous Tsurai had dwelled at this location for centuries. As described in the diary of Fray Miguel de la Campa, chaplain  of the Santiago, "After landing we all worshipped the Holy Cross that had been made to be placed at  the top of the mountain...we ascended, but not without difficulty because of the rough, steep, and somewhat dangerous path. Having arrived at the summit, we set up the Holy Cross...I said Mass and preached amid great quiet and calmness, for the Indians were content to observe what we were doing from the rancheria...On descending we met four Indians near the beach, and to the one whom the afternoon before we had judged most intelligent, the captain of the schooner said to say 'Long live Charles III,' and he, very happily, repeated along with our men 'Long live Charles III.'" (Robert Heizer and John Mills, The Four Ages of Tsurai, Trinidad Museum Society: Trinidad, CA, 1991, pg 40). The explorers wrote that the Tsurai were atheists since they found no evidence that they believed in a supreme being.
I am a Unitarian Trinitarian. Unitarian because I believe in the oneness of the Holy One; trinitarian because all good things come in threes. Threeness has a long and regal philosophical history. The Neoplatonic philosopher, Proclus, saw triads everywhere. His fundamental trinity was that of Being, Life, and Intellect, but triads pervaded throughout the structures and processes of the universe. For me, my foundational triad is Rock, Tree  and Water--just like what I see as I watch the noontime scene from a cliff overlooking College Cove. In contrast to the Christian Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, my trinity is impersonal, almost pantheist in scope. No Holy Cross, but groves of Holy Trees.

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