Thin Place

A “thin place” is term from Celtic Christianity, a way of speaking of a meeting place between us and the holy. 

A “thin place” is the kind of place that made you feel like yourself, grounded and centered.  It’s the kind of place that you may have been to once a long time ago where you felt particularly in the presence of Mystery, of all we might call God.  

Thin places are sometimes places outdoors, places of beauty or restoration. I have found many “thin places” along the Boothbay Region Land Trust Trails and at the Botanical Gardens. Where’s a “thin place” for you?    

Thin places are not always easy places to be. I once took a group of youth to the island of Iona in Scotland which some have called a “thin place.”  On that bare, rocky small island all the of us felt out-of-sorts with all the emptiness, barrenness, nothing to do but to be in it.  Iona was a “thin place” that opened up stories and feelings that were not always easy or comfortable.

This week I’ve been reminded that times of transition are thin places too. Moving from what was to what yet will be can be times of excitement and anxiety, anticipation and fear – both, all at once. They are particular times when we might see what we might not have seen as clearly before about ourselves and the communities we are part of. 

We are all in a “thin place” of transition now.  Some of us anticipating family gatherings when we haven’t gathered as family for over a year.  Some of us going out to a restaurant – can you imagine?!  Some of us not yet sure about venturing out and saying yes to the dinner invitation. 

Here at church we are in a “thin place” now as we get ready to transition to hybrid worship.  It reminds me of how it felt a year ago in March when we had to transition quickly from in-person to only live-streaming worship.  Sometimes it felt overwhelming. Often it wasn’t clear what to do. We weren’t sure what would work and what wouldn’t.  We had to learn in “real time” when there weren’t any maps to show us the way. We had to learn by trying, making mistakes, learning from our mistakes, trying again, failing again.  It wasn’t easy but along the way we found our way. 

Like we did a year ago, we will again in the months ahead be trying and making mistakes and learning what works along the way. We’ll need to remind ourselves that if we don’t risk “failing” we’re not trying hard enough.  And yes, to remember that it’s not about doing it “right” or “wrong”, but about finding our way together. 

In this “thin place” time, I wonder what might happen if we bring our wonder and bring our curiosity. To take in the joy of seeing one another and reach out to those who stand at the sidelines, not yet ready to engage in person. To remember that we are not all in the same place with this transition.  We are and we will be in the months ahead in many different ways of anticipation and anxiety, joy and grief, wonder and worry. I think we’ll make a holy space together if we go through this time remembering there is room for all of us, in all the ways we come.  

In this thin space, in this transition time once again, God draws very close to us, a breath within, a breath away. Right here.  Sometimes so close that we can’t even see where God is. 

I wonder, what will you hear, what will you experience of the Spirit of the Living God moving with you, with us, in this “thin place” of change? I wonder, how it might change us?

Peter 

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