My hubby Bill and I did four quick, hot miles last Saturday morning. We showered at our local rec center, then returned home; we had a lot to accomplish.
We planned to travel to Cape Cod for a family vacation on Sunday. Bill needed to mow the grass one last time and I had to clean the house.
After a hurried breakfast and a short sit-down to catch our breath, Bill donned his mowing clothes and I assembled my cleaning supplies.
Before I actually began scrubbing, the sweet, warbling trill of a house wren from the small woodlot behind our house called to me. I needed a short visit to the nearby woods and meadow to still my mind.
I grabbed the leash, which roused my dog Benji from his nap, and we headed down the hill to the small gravel path that follows a stream which bisects the woods and meadow. The path is sometimes used by walkers and bikers, but in the heat of a summer midday, there is little chance of meeting anyone, so I allowed Benji to run without his leash.
South of the tunnel that goes under the road is a paved path, baseball fields, a small playground, public restrooms, and people. I live north of the tunnel. Here the path is unpaved, the fields are only mowed twice a year, and the crowd thins out.
I have been walking dogs in this meadow for years. It used to be populated by cows in the summertime when it was part of a dairy farm before it was purchased by the township and turned into a linear park. I would walk along the stream in the tall grass, avoiding the herd. Ahead of me, frogs would explode from their hiding places and, emitting a froggy yell, plop down into the safety of the slowly moving stream.
This meadow was where, wearing rain gear to protect myself from a downpour, I first learned to identify birds using a field guide. I could already recognize common birds who showed up at my feeders – the robins, blue jays, cardinals and mourning doves of backyards – but not the more exotic birds of the fields and woods.
The first bird I identified was a brown thrasher, a robin-sized bird with a brown back, striped belly, and piercing yellow eyes. It took me a good 10 minutes of looking from the bird to the book and back to the bird again to definitively name this bird, a member of the thrush family. Thank goodness the thrasher was patient.
Benji and I walked past the field where hundreds of Cabbage White butterflies flitted like snowflakes among the milkweed flowers and headed for the cooler shade of the woods. Here most of the sunlight is filtered out by the trees before it falls to the ground in bright patches.
I sat down in a clump of dry grass beside the stream and Benji waded for a few minutes before crouching down to allow the cool water to wash under his belly.
The name of the stream, the Santo Domingo Creek, is far grander than the actual waterway itself. It’s a small spring-fed creek that, in the summer, usually dries up to form isolated puddles, forcing the minnows who inhabit it to swim in ever-smaller circles.
This summer, however, has been wet so far, and streaks of light sparkle on the surface of the water as I watch it flow downstream. The green tangle of weeds on the bank rises to my waist.
This is a good place to ruminate, so I do. I think about thin places.
Celtic Christianity posits that heaven and earth are typically three feet apart, but at thin places that distance is even smaller. The door separating us from the next world opens a crack and holy light escapes to bathe these spots in brilliance.
We are closer to God at the thin places than anywhere else on earth. At these blessed points, we can more easily feel God’s grace and glory. We come away from these sacred sites renewed in spirit, calm and sure in the midst of the busyness of the world.
After a glimpse of the holiness found in a thin place, we are more likely to see holiness all around us in our everyday life. We can hear spirituality in birdsong, feel consecration in the sunlight, and see divinity in the warm eyes of people we pass.
I used to find thin places in landscapes that were desolate, windswept and sere. An austere landscape stirred my soul and allowed me to feel the presence of God without distractions.
Now, I am more likely to find my thin places in a location of abundance. God, I believe, is a God of plenty, a God of living water. Living water infuses the landscape of my thin places and brings with it jewelweed, blackberry brambles, goldenrod, water striders, and shiners.
After a few minutes of soaking in the light of my thin place, I am refreshed. The door to heaven swings shut and I slowly stand up and call to Benji. We walk up the hill to our home, me to my cleaning and Benji to his nap.
The crush of busyness and stress has left me, washed away in the Santo Domingo. I am renewed by living water and ready for the rest of my day, even if it involves cleaning the house. I think of the Celtic blessing:
Deep peace of the running wave
Deep peace of the flowing air
Deep peace of the quiet earth
Deep peace of the shining stars
Deep peace of the Son of Peace.
Where are your thin places?
I am linking up with Amy at Live Life Well, Raisie Bay for Word of the Week, Crystal Twaddell for Fresh Market Friday, Esme Salon for Senior Salon, Embracing the Unexpected for Grace and Truth, Counting My Blessings for Faith ‘n Friends, Lyli Dunbar for Faith on Fire, My Random Musings for Anything Goes, Shank You Very Much for Global Blogging, Abounding Grace for Gracefull Tuesday, Purposeful Faith for RaRa link up, Mary Geisen Tell His Story, Bethere2day for Wordless Wednesday, Random-osity for Communal Global, InstaEncouragements, and Morgan’s Milieu for Post, Comment, Love.