Have you heard the expression ‘a thin place’? Originally a Celtic concept it describes places where the division between the earthly and the divine, the physical and the spiritual is reduced…places where we suddenly feel connected to something more that the everyday, concrete world we inhabit…..places where we find ourselves experiencing a connection to something that our scientific brain cannot explain. “They are locales where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine, or the transcendent or, as I like to think of it, the Infinite Whatever” (Eric Weiner).
Ever felt like that? I have, and time seems to stand still – or maybe I stood outside of time for those infinite moments. But is it in a Place? There are definitely places that seem to inhabit the thin zone for many people, but there is no guarantee that for you it will hold a thin place experience. I think that it is much more personal than that – it is about an individual, it is about the juncture of a time in your life with a place of significance, a place that at that moment resonates and takes on something more than it had before.
Then what? For some the experience is one of spiritual revelation and a connection with God and the divine. For others it becomes about gaining a new sense of perspective of our place in this universe, of our purpose and of what matters.
As I thought about Thin Places my mind moved to Christmas and I realised that the Christmas story is one of Thin Place encounter after Thin Place. For each person the location of their Thin Place was part of their everyday life – Mary at home, shepherds in fields, astronomers at work….each had a Thin Place encounter where the division between them and God disappeared and they heard a message that came from beyond their everyday existence. Their response to that experience was to believe in the truth of it and to pursue it. Were there others who we don’t know about who chose to dismiss their experience and return to everyday life unaffected? But those who responded came face to face with the ultimate Thin Place – no longer a Place but a Person. Where the division between the Divine and the earthly was not even thin – it was nonexistent – as God became Man and dwelt among us. For those that met Jesus in his lifetime of earth, He became the Thin place where they encountered God.
May our Christmas be a Thin Place where we encounter the Divine and respond to that experience – where we recognise our worth and our purpose in this world.