Saint Augustine (354-430) was once walking down the beach in his native northern Africa, contemplating the difficulties inherent in understanding the mystery of the Trinity. How could three Persons be one God?
While musing, he saw a young boy on the beach ahead of him. The lad had dug a hole in the sand, and was collecting seawater in a little seashell and then pouring it into the hole. “What are you doing?” Augustine asked him.
“I’m pouring the sea into this hole,” the boy replied. When Augustine told him this was impossible, the boy shot back, “It’s less impossible than understanding the mystery of the Trinity”–and then vanished.
Our Lord commanded the Apostles, “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). Ever after, artists in the Christian world have attempted to portray the Trinity in heaven, such as in this stunning sculpture by Andrea Guardi from 1445, housed in one of Rome’s museums dedicated to decorative arts. Still, artists trying to depict the Triune God have always known they were doing the impossible–like the boy who told Augustine he would pour the sea into that little hole.