When I was in kindergarten, my class presented a Christmas Pageant. Mother sewed an angel costume out of a white bed sheet and trimmed it with gold sparkles to match the pipe cleaner halo. I sang “O Little Town of Bethlehem” as a solo but felt I’d been miscast. I was no angel; and instead of singing, I wanted to play the triangle. When struck, the triangle resonated true, singular yet harmonic and powerful. DING!

I also liked the triangle’s three-sided, three-pointed shape dangling in the air. It seemed an elegant expression of unity and stability. To me, it’s similar to the Trinity (God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit), or a presentation or an essay’s three bullet points.

In human relationships, however, triangles can be tippy tricycles or three-legged stools.

Family therapist Dr. Harriet Lerner wrote, ”…triangles are driven by emotionality and anxiety….” Often fueled by unaddressed or unresolved issues, triangles serve to keep family issues underground. That’s why we participate in them. We hate to face our fears.

ASC_CyranoCyrano de Bergerac, a play by Edmund Rostand on stage at the Blackfriar’s Theatre in Staunton, is a classic story. It’s a love triangle – portrayed in several films including 1987’s Roxanne adapted by and starring Steve Martin – about a man with panache and a large nose. Cyrano loves the beautiful Roxane but believes she could never love him. He fears rejection. Roxane loves Christian de Neuvillette, a handsome man who wishes to return her love. But he is inarticulate, and Roxane values cleverness. To help Christian in his suit, Cyrano woos Roxane by writing speeches and letters for Christian, thus the triangle.

Even though billed as a comedy, the play does not end well. Knowing his suit is a fraud and fearing failure, Christian races into battle and dies. Unable to face her future and fearing uncertainty, Roxane retreats to a convent. Cyrano faithfully visits her every week for fifteen years. Then one day, all is revealed. Cyrano arrives late having suffered what proves to be a mortal wound. Although Cyrano denies it, Roxane becomes aware that he authored the love letters. With Christian’s handsome face long gone, Roxane confesses her love for Cyrano. Too late, too late – Cyrano dies having lost all except his panache.

In his message this week, our pastor spoke of three human fears: rejection, uncertainty and failure. Cyrano feared nothing except rejection; Roxane hid from uncertainty; and Christian ran away from failure.

Which point of the triangle do I fear? All three give me pause. But I know I’m loved. And I’ve failed plenty of times and know how to pick myself up and start over again. So uncertainty – that requires me to trust in God. It’s easy to say but hard to do during times of fear. When facing change, I try to visualize the completeness of the shape and listen for the perfect sound of the triangle. Ding!

What do you like about triangles?


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