The Holiness of the Thin Places

Meditations in Motion

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.

 

Meditations in Motion
By Manjith Kainickara from Dallas, Texas, USA – Brown Thrasher Uploaded by snowmanradio, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20329078

 

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.

Meditations in MotionBenji 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.

Meditations in MotionCeltic 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.

Meditations in MotionI 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

86 comments

  1. Oh, I don’t think I have any thin places now. This makes me sad because I know I have in the past and they made me feel refreshed like you. Perhaps that’s why I feel so trapped? Thanks for such a lovely post and for linking up to #Wotw x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your description of your walk. We have a very similar walk, even runs north to south. We go northwards and it is definitely a thin place. Less people walk it and the undergrowth is shoulder height at this time of year. I love it. I never get bored of it. Full of birds, deer and even an otter on the path once! Everyone needs to find a place like it. Hope you have a wonderful time away. #wotw

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a beautiful statement: “We are closer to God at the thin places than anywhere else on earth”

    I hope you have a sweet time with family in Cape Cod!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful post. I also often walk alone in the country to watch the birds, tha plants, the natural places and ancient etruscan, roman, medioeval “stones”. Often I free the birds that I find in the traps of the hunters. This is a good way to think about the past, present and future life.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The meadow sounds like such a beautiful place to walk and I can imagine that you must come away feeling refreshed in spirit from somewhere like this. I’ve not come across the concept of thin places before but I love the thought of it. I have a few thin places – one of which is sitting on the bench by Jessica’s forever bed, listening to the wind in the trees and the birds singing. In spite of my sadness, I always feel comforted by spending time there. #WotW

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Celtic Christianity posits that heaven and earth are typically three feet apart, but at thin places that distance is even smaller.” I so love this concept — thank you for illuminating my day, Laurie.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thin places play a role in my book series (found on my web page), and the concept has always been a fascinating one for me. Maybe it’s because of my Irish/Scottish heritage? Celtic spirituality definitely allows us to see the miraculous in the mundane. Blessings, Laurie, and thanks for visiting my blog, Meditations of My Heart, today!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! You and I have talked about our dislike for housework before, Linda. It doesn’t take much to distract me from that! From reading your blog, it seems like your thin places are out in nature too!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes Laurie, when I read that I thought “there’s me – any distraction from the task at hand when the task is housework!” Nature is a better place to be – the dust bunnies can stand down a little while longer! P.S. Somewhere my mom is looking down and cringing at that last line.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I welcome distractions from cleaning the house for sure. I just wanted to get the cleaning done before we left for Cape Cod. My dog Benji stays home when we go away – our teenaged neighbor takes care of him – so when we got home, I still had to run the vacuum again even though the only one home was the dog! My mom would be cringing too! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Benji was likely running from room to room wondering “when are Mom and Dad coming home?” Was it you or Shelley wrote about having to pack on the sly so Benji (or Copper) didn’t get wind of an upcoming trip? It might have been both of you due to their separation anxiety. Next door is a Bichon Frise. The owner leaves the house at 8:00 a.m. and the dog whines and cries from 8:01 a.m. until she returns home. I don’t know how it doesn’t have laryngitis.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think you are right. Benji suffers from anxiety while we are away. It was me who wrote about packing so that Benji can’t see us pack. That’s so sad about your neighbor dog! The girl who takes care of Benji said this was his best time yet. but he still was a mess when we first got home.

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      • I thought it was you when you went to Costa Rica, or maybe Colorado at Easter. That’s okay – Benji loves his pet parents or he would not have that angst. Yes, the neighbor’s dog does that all day long – the dog stays in her bedroom and it’s right under my kitchen window (I work in the kitchen). We had a parakeet many years ago and Joey was the same way. My mom did not drive and she was in the kitchen with Joey the entire day unless we went out somewhere together. When we went to Toronto to visit my grandmother, I’d take a vacation day and we’d have a three-day weekend. Joey would not eat from the time we left the house until we came home and he always gave us the cold shoulder when we returned for a day or so. We knew he was pining for company, but we still left his regular seeds and water cups, plus tubes of extra seeds and water. And extra treats, especially his favorites. We’d clean him before we left – not a single seed chaff was on the paper – he’d sit in one spot in the corner. We felt so badly for him. We were on vacation for several weeks and a neighbor really liked Joey and would interact with him whenever she came to visit my mom. My mom asked if she would come over to feed him while we were gone, or if she would like to take him over to her house. “Oh yes, we’d love to have him.” He never talked, or was playful, but he did eat – we guess it was because he did have someone talking to him, cleaning his cage, etc. My next-door neighbor was very attached to her cat. After her husband died, she started traveling to her brother’s house in Florida several times a year and they went on cruises and small vacations, so I took care of Missy. She would have nothing to do with me – I ran in and out of the house (couldn’t keep her here as I’l allergic to cats). But what my mom and I DID do for Missy was to call the answering machine several times a day so she could hear Marge’s voice. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, what we do for our pets! You were kind to take care of your neighbor’s cat when you are allergic. Benji usually doesn’t eat much while we are gone either. I have started leaving some leftovers in the fridge for our neighbor to mix in with his food to try to get him to eat. She said that was pretty successful the last time. I am going to have to begin freezing treats for him soon. We will be gone for almost 3 weeks while we visit both of our Western sons in a few weeks.

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      • You both are enjoying your retirement so much – that is something to look forward to with all your travels this year alone. Yes, our pets are so devoted to us, I know it was stressful to Joey that we had to leave him behind. He eventually would come around, but it took a lot of coaxing on our part to make it up to him before he would start talking and interacting with us again after we returned.

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      • We get a lot of questions about retirement from our friends. We are enjoying it very much – never bored or lacking something to do. We are thrilled with the chance to travel more and of course, run more!

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  8. A beautiful piece of writing Laurie !

    My thin place is a spot on a Pacific coast cliff – my soul stretches out and I immerse myself in salt air, wind, clouds above and rocks under my feet. I send prayers in all directions and do my best to connect with my Higher Power. I once sat on a rock on this cliff and a prayer I recited in my head went along these lines: on this rock I perch and my eyes scan all that can be seen; my fondest hope is that I will find God looking back at me!

    Thin places are very important 😄🙏😄

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautiful! My thin places are outside for sure! By my river or feeling the wind or sun on my face! Oh my sweet Savior! Thank you for such a beautiful post!

    Thanks for linking up @LiveLifeWell!

    Blessings,

    Amy

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think my thin places are around water, especially the ocean. Thank you so much for sharing this lovely and thoughtful post. You are a very talented writer!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This reminded me a lot of “A Sand County Almanac” in today’s language. Beautiful! I link that that thin place are where we allow God to draw closer to us more than any specific location. There is something special about looking for God in nature, any land or ocean scape. My preference is in the mountains. Many Thanks! 8)

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  12. I don’t think I’ve ever considered this idea of “thin spaces” – but your writing makes me want to go out. To discover and to enjoy the thin places that might be right outside my door or neighborhood! I loved this post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love to trail run and hike too, Mary. You are so right – I can walk the same trail 2 days in a row and still find different things to look at and think about.

      Like

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