May 13, 2009 / Creative Writing
I watched Rebel Without a Cause on TV late one college night when I learned …
September 9, 2021
Say Trinity and I don’t see the page of a catechism or a neatly drawn triangle composed of double-tipped arrows and I don’t see an egg with yolk white and shell or water as ice liquid and vapor, and if you say Trinity I don’t hear the doxology or a pastor baptizing in the name of Father Son and Spirit or a priest declaring over me Father Son and Spirit backed by all the iconized faces of the saints, but if you say Trinity my gut twists and my pulse panics, because when you say Trinity my eyes see maps of Israel and from those maps rises a man I followed through all the streets of Jerusalem and up and down that land, so when you say Trinity I see him teaching, bucket hat shading his aging apple face, bandana knotted around his neck red and wrinkled from the sun, and just saying Trinity brings back this man and me as colleagues at his desk covered with calendars and brochures and trip itineraries and at hostel breakfast tables with college students eating cucumbers eggs and yogurt and even as I write “brings back” I feel like he is dead, because when you say Trinity I think of the March day when he was hoisted up as heretic and how reading the Bible became war because he had made every story Technicolor but would no longer say Trinity which makes me want to run recalling tortured mental gymnastics and the Lord’s words made untrustworthy and the emasculated lowercase spirit and Jesus an abused child on the cross and myself a man-worshipper, because it never says Trinity his wife emailed me, she who’d fasted and prayed for me and whose blue tile trivet sat on my table screaming Trinity and whose voice invaded the hymns I sang at night and so many little things—the rust-resistant clothespins and the activated charcoal and the sum of 1+1+1 and the trick of slicing cinnamon rolls with dental floss (how can even this say Trinity?)—so many little things that now, if you say Trinity I see myself inside a Durham cathedral with printed liturgy card in hand saying the Nicene Creed which does not say Trinity but contains all the truths that as I sat studying one night forced me to the floor under a terrifying wave of light cresting my consciousness, imploding all the diagrams and metaphors and blasting away all the arguments and counterarguments, and shielding my eyes from the Mystery I heard their voices drowned by the one who says I am God and there is no other, who from eternity is made Father by the radiant Son at whose name every knee will bow on heaven and on earth and under the earth, and when you say Trinity I feel the outward-swelling tension of untamable Glory rattling and shattering the cage of logic and I hear myself saying the words like hacking an enemy with broadsword, living and active: I will believe, I choose to believe, I will say Trinity.
Heather M. Surls
Heather M. Surls has published nonfiction and short stories in places like Cordella, Ruminate, River Teeth, Silk Road, LETTERS, and Nowhere. She regularly contributes articles to Anthrow Circus (www.anthrowcircus.com), a mixed-media site exploring culture through the lens of place. She lives in Amman, Jordan, with her husband and two sons.