Beholding Trinity Through Relationship by Neil Fraser
In Beholding Trinity Through Relationship: Deep Calls to Deep, An Intimate Journey With God, Neil Fraser takes us on a journey that uses a simple-on-the-surface structure – with results that are stunningly rich and complex. This is a book that you could read and reread, and then discover something new about the contemplative path each time.
Neil models his structure after one created by English Puritan Isaac Ambrose, who was born in 1604. This piqued my curiosity about Ambrose, who was described this way in DigitalPuritan.net: “As a religious writer Ambrose has a vividness and freshness of imagination possessed by scarcely any of the Puritan Nonconformists. Many who have no love for Puritan doctrine, nor sympathy with Puritan experience, have appreciated the pathos and beauty of his writings.” This site also provides access to writing by Ambrose, who is known for his book titled Looking Unto Jesus.
Neil was inspired by Ambrose’s “nine steps toward experiencing Jesus in thought and behavior” and he used the same nine steps and added another step that he created. The ten steps are:
In each of his chapters, Neil creates a series of ten psalm-like meditations that, interestingly enough, sometimes incorporate haiku. The first meditation in each chapter focuses on “knowing” so, for the chapter titled Father as Abba, the first meditation is about knowing Father as Abba. This is followed by Considering Father as Abba and so forth. Other chapters’ themes are Jesus as Immanuel, Holy Spirit as Infiller, Trinity as a Friend and so forth.
Each chapter begins with introductory remarks that set context and ends with several reflexive thoughts, which could be used as food for thought or as writing prompts. Here is a sample reflexive thought from chapter one: If you don’t know Father as Abba, what emotion(s) do you have when you think of the possibility? Offended? Excited? Afraid? Doubtful? Something else? Abba is with you right now tenderly holding you, saying: “I want to be your closest Friend, closer than you can comprehend. Please say yes.”
This book can be read from start to finish, of course, but Neil suggests other methods to try, such as reading chapters in part one in order and then reading the remaining chapters in a different order of your choice, or to read the chapter that corresponds with the month; so, if you started to read this book in September, you’d read chapter nine first, then chapter ten in October and so forth (there are 12 chapters). There are more suggestions in the book and, since this book is worth reading more than once, it might be interesting to read it differently each time.
I have, to date, only read this book in a more analytical way, with my intention being to provide a useful summary and high-level opinion for this blog post. I truly look forward to reading this book in a more mindful way, soaking in the messages and using them contemplatively. I also plan to use prayers from Beholding Trinity Through Relationship as opening prayers in the in-person spiritual writing workshops that I lead and I fully expect the reflexive thoughts to serve as inspiration as I develop new spiritual writing workshops.
This book focuses on relationship, which is an approach that invites readers to develop a deeper personal connection with Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and an approach that will cause each reader to experience the book in a different way.
Ultimate goals for this book, as described as Neil, are as follows:
1. To explore each relationship
2. To hunger for more of each relationship
3. To express gratitude for each relationship
4. To transform into the likeness of each relationship
I’d love to hear your reactions to this book; you can leave comments on this post. Beholding Trinity Through Relationship should be available on Amazon in late September.
Interesting in Writing Your Own Devotionals?
If you read devotionals, you already know how they can be a true blessing. A devotional can uplift you when you’re feeling discouraged, sad or lonely. It can help you acknowledge and repent from sins that cause personal rifts and create distance in your relationship with God. It can allow you to feel a keen sense of fellowship with another Christian, even if the two of you never actually meet.
And, if you are feeling called to write devotionals, know that you have a unique opportunity to bless others and make a genuine difference in their lives.
I’m offering a course in writing devotionals for only $12. These steps are ones that I used when writing Everything to God in Prayer: A Writer’s Weekly Devotional and they may be helpful to you, as well. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. Thanks!