IT'S SAID, THE ICON DOES FOR THE EYE what the Word of God does for the ear. And so the Rublev Trinity proclaims in painted image that God is One, but that within God's interior life there is a family or community of persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Furthermore, the icon, with it's empty space opening to the viewer says, God doesn't want to be admired or even just believed in, but God invites us to enter into God's own inner relational life. And sitting around a table is highly symbolic of all that is best in life. Isn't this wonderful! In a world where there is such loneliness, opposition and human degradation, that it matters to God that I exist, that God knows me and includes me: Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life abundantly," John 10:10.
It is generally accepted that the angel figure at the left of the table is a symbolic representation of God the Father. The Father is invisible and so the blue of divinity he wears is essentially concealed or hidden. Until Christ, God revealed himself in the mighty storm, the historical story of Israel, a prophet's call.
The Father sits more upright than the other two who are inclined to the Father in conversation. The Father wears an imperial robe with golden hints.
"The Lord is King; He is clothed with majesty; He is girded with strength. For He established the world which shall not be shaken. Thy throne is prepared of old; Thou art from everlasting," Psalm 92
The colors of the Father's robe seem to have a layered appearance or quality. God is not contained by the limits of doctrinal language or a golden box or decree, but in the ever layering depths of our personal discovery and the unfolding of our hearts.
Each of the three carry a walking staff, but the Father's staff is upright, while the other two are leaning, as if in motion. Two persons of the Trinity have come to earth - the Spirit at the Annunciation and again in the Pentecost. The Son enters the world in the womb of Mary and at Bethlehem.
The figure in the center is believed to be a symbolic representation of Jesus, the Son. His mantle is blue as he fully reveals the Father's divinity. But his tunic is the color of clay-earth or even the dried blood which will be his life-gift. His right arm is over-sized as he seems to lean heavily on the table, which now becomes an altar - the altar of his sacrifice.
Notice that if we follow the lines created by the angel's legs, laps and chests on either side, from bottom to top, they form the shape of a deep cup or chalice and that Jesus, the Son, symbolically sits inside that cup, echoed again in the chalice that remains on the altar and yet again in the space created between the two foot rests.
The foot rests themselves are lovely indicators of God perhaps resting a bit. Why not? The Book of Genesis 2:2 tells us that God rested after he had made everything that was good. And God has gone to a great deal of trouble in coming into our world to retrieve all that is good. Rather like the parents in Oklahoma, who clawed at the school's rubble until they found the child that was theirs, God will not allow us to be lost to him.
The figure on the right is the Spirit. The Father gazes at the Spirit who, with the Son, inclines his head in a perfect agreement of heart-intention, mind and purpose. And while the Son looks to the Father, he points to the Spirit with his right hand. It appears that the Son is blessing the cup, but art historians tell us that over many centuries of repair, an additional finger was added to the Son's right hand. In actuality, Rublev painted the Son pointing to the Spirit. The Spirit wears a fully revealed divinity-blue and green, the spring's color of regeneration, restoration, renewal and new life.
The Son and the Spirit each wear a golden band over their shoulders. This is called a clavus (once part of Greek and Roman costume indicating rank) and here expressing that the Son and the Spirit are the right and left hands of the Father reaching into the deepest darkness - where our world is weary, tear-soaked and hidden in debilitating fears.