In my last year of Seminary, I was short units in Theology, so Fr. Larry Terrien offered me an independent study of Theology and Art. One of the projects was to depict the Trinity. I tried a number of mediums including three overlapping painted panels, but finally realized that a stained-glass rose window would be most fitting. It went through a number of variations but I found this one spoke best to Fr. Terrien’s prompt.
Perichoresis is a Greek term which dates back to Maximus the Confessor in the 7th century referencing the Trinity as being perpetually in a ring dance, giving place to each other out of love. Two spinning circles, containing three and six swirls (the yin and the yang, with an extra swirl and then doubled*), one inside the other, represent a dynamic. The Trinity is in the center of the window, while the outer ring expresses our experience of them in our lives, through covenant and sacrament (clockwise from the top: Pentecost, Covenant, Triumph of the Cross, Eucharist, Creation, Healing). The use of the color wheel, which begins with the three primary colors (yellow, blue, red) and expands into the secondary colors made from combining them (green, purple, orange) serves to connect the swirls, giving a unity to the dynamic. The quality of a stained-glass window that most attracted me was that the experience of the work would change as the sun moved, so that it was another level of dynamic. The idea that we would experience God in a constantly changing world, not as contrary to it but as a part of it, the source of its dynamic, was very attractive to me as my sense of God as a static reality was changing.
--Fr. Patrick Michaels
*Note: The yin and the yang capture a concept of dualism in ancient Chinese philosophy, describing how seemingly opposing or contrary forces (like male and female) may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.
Images courtesy of the artist, Fr. Patrick Michaels.