3: Omne Trium Perfectum – Making Sense of it All

Lucky Three or Not
Things come in threes beleaguers my thoughts. A month ago, I received word that my beloved border collie, Bess, passed away while I traveled in Scotland. Last week I received word that my best male friend from college passed away. Memories flash of the three close friends I lost a few years ago — all within nine months (3 x 3) time. Murmurings below the surface question if a third heartbreak will follow.

Contrary aphorisms abound for this popular number. Three’s a charm predicts success after two failures. Or a third misfortune can follow two others. A third soldier lighting a cigarette from the same source was considered unlucky on the WWI battlefield since a sniper could see the first light, aim on the second, and fire on the third.

Similar “superstitions” like don’t walk under a ladder or don’t open an umbrella in the house, I consider more as practical warnings. After all, anything can be dropped from working high above, and an umbrella’s cuspate spokes can be dangerous and obstructive indoors. 

brooke-campbell-Rw2-Y0nSIKQ-unsplashThat Timeless Number Three
My search for a deeper understanding of the number three revealed its timeless phenomenon. Pythagoreans, for instance, believed the number three to be the first triangular number. Besides its strength in triangles, tripods, and pyramids, the notorious number three prevails throughout history and cultures worldwide:

The Trident
Photo by Hans Braxmeier on Pixabay

Ancient Symbolism:
– A trident appears beside Neptune, Shiva, and farmers.

– The Celtic triskele’s three spirals symbolize the Present World-where we live and exist, the Other World-home of our ancestors, spirit guides and deities, and the Celestial World.
– The three-petaled French fleur-de-lis originally represented the commoners, nobility, and clergy.  In other cultures it’s also symbolized life, perfection, and light. 

Mythology:
– Greek Cronus fathered three sons – Zeus, Poseidon and Hades; Norse Borr also fathered three sons –  Odin, Vili, and Vé.

– Mayans believed mankind was created in three attempts (flood destroyed the first man made of clay; a storm washed away the second man made of wood; but the third man made from maize was from whom all are descended).
– Celtic gods and goddesses often appear in groups of three.

camels-1150075_1280
Photo by Kevin Phillips on Pixabay

Religion:
Besides the Trinity, the number three winds throughout Christianity as when it was reported that three wise men presented three gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh), and Jesus’ ministry lasted three years.

– Buddhism’s Three Jewels are The Buddha, The Dharma, and The Sangha.
– The Torah uses the number three for Jews to mediate between two opposing or contradictory values.
– Universal chi, human plane chi, and earth chi compose Taoism’s Three Pure Ones.
– Zoroastrianism’s three virtues are Humata (good thoughts), Hukhta (good words) and Hvarshta (good deeds).
– Hindu’s Trimūrti triple deity is Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer.

The_Hindu_Gods_Vishnu,_Shiva,_and_Brahma
10th century artwork of Hindu trinity

– Islam’s triple talaq is a Muslim divorce where a husband pronounces three times talaq (Arabic word for divorce).
– The Bahá’í faith’s three principles are the unity of God, the unity of religion, and the unity of humanity.
– Neopagan religions revere the Triple Goddess deity of maiden, mother and crone.

Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes:
Remember The Three Little Pigs, Three Blind Mice, or Goldie Locks and the Three Bears?

The Count of Three:
– Arithmetic, reading, and writing are academic basics.

– “You’re out!” after three strikes in baseball, and three outs end an inning.
– Actions requiring synchrony often count to three like one-two-three “Say cheese!”

Photo by David Bartus from Pexels

Music:
– Music expresses feelings, ideas and moods.
– A chord consists of three notes.
– Music’s three main elements are melody, rhythm, and harmony.

Art:
Composition is based on the Rule of Thirds.

– Artists create with three primary colors of red, yellow and blue.
– Writers have a beginning, middle and end. 

Nature and the Environment:
– Physics, chemistry, and biology are the three types of natural laws.

– The physical environment consists of land, sea, and sky.
– Folklore and religions describe life in heaven, hell, and on earth.

Medicine and Science:
India’s Ayurvedic medicine revolves around three doshas — vata, pitta and kapha.
– Variation, heredity, and selection are the three principles of evolution.
– Personality theory is based on the id, the ego and the superego.

The Unity of Three
Three can be an expression of unity as in father, mother and child or how one can become three as in me, myself and I. Of course, we’ve been told three’s a crowd but three is also a tie-breaker. Perhaps one is too solitary, and two is too black and white final. It is three that offers possibility like a shade of grey as in this, that, other, or door 1-2-or 3.

The number three appears almost everywhere.  What do you think of the number three?  Has it played any significance in your life?

Three Deep
What is it that makes three so powerful and for years on end?  Yogis access intuition through their third eye. Some may deem consideration of three as linear thinking or apophenia — a universal human tendency to seek patterns in random information. For me, observing patterns is a trait I developed in my youth to manage an unpredictable home life. Even if erroneous, considering the next possibility eliminated the shock when voices escalated and doors slammed. 

My Adult View of Three…
As a gardener, I understand plants need earth, water, and air. Three-leaf clovers make me smile, and I’m cautious near three-leaved poison ivy or oak. My red-white-and blue spirit cherishes life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  

I’ve learned that the number three can represent past, present and future, or body, soul and spirit. As the number of completion, I recognize that Bess and my college buddy have lived their cycles of birth, life and death — something that every living creature will experience.  It just is. The way of life.

 

 

The Ups and Downs of Life

raindrops on pink rose buds
Image by silviarita from Pixabay

 

Rain clouds

help flowers grow.

Why should life experiences be any different?

 

Learning through Grief
I began this post before the untimely loss of my best friend — Bess my beloved 14 1/3 year old border collie.  Acceptance soothes my broken heart when acknowledging this will happen to each and everyone of us and everyone we love, that this behest of time is a transformation of life. I continue learning through my loss of Bess…such as doing what I can then letting go, and the power of thought and perspective. I anticipate sharing more from time to time on insights gained through this experience…


“All of life’s experiences are to be either enjoyed or learned from.”

— Alan Cohen

Bess gave me both.


I am curious to know how you process grief. A sage shared this short (18 minute) video with me. Hopefully, you will benefit as well — not just in a time of need.


In Loving Memory of Bess-1

Contemplating Compost

Death is not so permanent as one might think.  When contemplating compost, you more fully understand the cycle of life.  Fruits and vegetables provide nutrition to us.  Flowers offer beauty.  When their peelings, parings, stems and leaves are tossed into the bin to decompose, in time they become nutrition for the soil.   Black gold I like to call it.

compost in bin

This rich compost continues nurturing us by transforming the soil to produce nutritious fruits and vegetables, and flowers to soar the spirit.

And so the cycle of life continues.  Quite simple, really.  Nature shows us how.  So what is all the fear about?

compost dirt

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

artur-rutkowski-97622-unsplash
Photo by Artur Rutkowski on Unsplash

The Beauty of Transformation

Dazzling green and metallic blue dragonflies transformed my summer to autumn.  Taking in the colorful, changing fall landscape yesterday amid September temps, I was mesmerized when a silvery gold dragonfly as sparkly as Christmas ribbons landed on my garden chair.  We both sat perfectly still for the next few minutes, its lipstick red mirrored dots on gossamer wings captivating me.

018 My dragonfly

Surely, clothing and fabric designers must get their ideas from nature I thought.  And then my view cast to the maple tree reflected in the pond, and the pathway illuminated from a myriad of golds, greens, browns, oranges and reds that painted the cherry, pear, oak, magnolia and unidentified trees.

cropped-100_1648-autumn-favorite-b1.jpg

 I felt awestruck that nature could be so endlessly beautiful, even while dying.

But, then I decided to look at it another way.  Just as the dragonfly transforms so does the tree.  It may shed leaves until it stands stark and bare but there is a regenerative undercurrent; it is not approaching death, it is transforming, preparing for another season, for another time, for the vitality of Spring.

My view of the seasons reflecting life — birth (spring), prime of life (summer), mid-life (autumn) and end of life (winter) — has also transformed.  No longer do I see only one life cycle.  Nature is teaching me more about life and what I use to call death.  More and more, I am convinced the end is not the end per se.  Life, for us, for trees, for seeds has many cycles.  I’d much prefer to think I’ll continue to grow and evolve than to die back and out.  The roses return.  Perennials too.  Trees grow new leaves and bloom in the spring.  Again and again and again.

How do they know?

I made a hearty bouquet last week of wild tiger daylilies and spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis that I placed in a cobalt blue vase to greet me in the morning and accompany nighttime meals.  This lively contrast of oranges and purples contained flowers in bloom and those in waiting.

On day 2, several of the lilies had closed and dried while others had bloomed.

On day 3, several other lilies closed and dried.  New ones bloomed.  The same held true for the spiderwort pods.

lilies and spiderwort 017 transformation

As this process continued throughout the week, I noticed that each bud seemed to be taking turns in its cycle of life.  I wondered, “How do they know when to bloom and when to die?”   

Transformation of Endings

Source: I Don’t Get It

In visiting another blog this afternoon, I was moved by the writer’s sadness and confusion of impending death and realized each of us is so different in how we think about and interpret life.

I came into this world contemplating death and vividly recall such thoughts as early as age 5. Death (separation) use to frighten me. I could not imagine being separated from the ones I love. (Note, despite my “attachment” to loved ones, I grew into an independent female.)  Oddly, the “death” of these individuals gave me a deeper understanding of “life.”  Someone told me that my suffering was because I was selfish in not wanting to let the dying go. That was hard to swallow but stepping back, I gradually understood what they meant and focused more on the moments I shared with that person or pet, rather than on the “loss.”

In my youth, I was introduced to a mix of Protestant Christianity (Presbyterian and Methodist doctrines) then investigated Buddhism, Catholicism, and Judaism. Several decades later I find myself believing in bits and pieces from all of them (aka take what you like and leave the rest). I do believe in God and that each of us may call it something different including “the Universe.”

But, it was working in the garden and being led to Taoism that transformed my fear of death to acceptance and understanding. Seeing a flower that buds, blooms, withers and dies, then returns each year gave me a concrete understanding of the cycle of life and hence, tremendous comfort.

If we are all interconnected, then why wouldn’t my life continue as it does for the flower that I cannot see during the winter but greets me each spring?

As in the photo I’ve included here…if I am not conscious enough to look beyond the winter grey, I would not notice the dwarf irises coming back to life in spring.

Reading about past life regression and end of life experiences also helped me arrive at my current view.  In 9 months, I lost 3 very important people to me — my mother, best friend of 20 some years, and spiritual guide.  In answer to my questions, a Unity minister responded that, “We cannot know another’s journey.” My resolution was that their work this time around was complete.

In the midst of processing these losses, I’ve also had a few scares with cancer.  Now, I am learning about the critical importance of our thoughts. And words. As Florence Scovel Shinn advised so many years ago, “Your word is your wand.” I try to be more conscious now in my thoughts and words…having faith answer the door when fear comes calling.  Sometimes I do better than others.  Afterall, this is reprogramming, “transforming” several decades of thinking.

More and more I have shifted my viewpoint to believe that endings are also beginnings. I heard a radio preacher one day say that death is the gateway to our transformation. Truly, I view death as not the end per se, but a transformation. I just have to have faith of where it will lead.