Monday, November 5, 2012

Thin Places

Just a strong caveat before I begin this week's blogpost - my Free-Kirk (definition: very conservative Presbyterian Scottish Reformed theology), Scottish grandmother who is now in heaven would not like this one.  She would have been very suspicious of all things related to "Celtic Spirituality."  I am about to write about Celtic Spirituality.

So, Sorry grandma...

Recently, while reading Tony Campolo's book, "Letters to a Young Evangelical" (A good book, but be prepared to argue out loud with it vociferously at times), I came across the term - "Thin Places".  Thin Places, is a term derived from Celtic Spirituality which describes a place or a state of being where God is particularly connected with an individual.  So called, "Thin Places" are places where the distance between heaven and earth are relatively thin, where there seems to be a closer connection between God and God's followers.  In the words of a pastor who is more familiar with the term than I am, “A thin place,” is a place where the boundary between heaven and earth is especially thin. It’s a place where we can sense the divine more readily.” 

Certain characters from the Bible seem to have experienced thin places during certain moments of their lives.  Moses seemed to experience a thin place on the top of the mountain while speaking with God through a burning bush.  Abraham seemed to experience a thin place when three visitors encountered him in the middle of the wilderness, and told him he and Sara were about to have a child.  Mary, the mother of God, experienced a thin place when an angel of the Lord met her and told her, "not to be afraid," that she was to be with child, and that his child was going to be the savior of the world.  One might argue that everywhere Jesus walked in the first century land of Judah was, in itself, a thin place.

As I have ministered to people over these past 12 years of ordained call, I have witnessed many people who were in the midst of thin places.  Most often, people seem most connected to God when they are in the midst of, or when they have just passed through some great spiritual test.  The death of a loved one can be an example of just such a spiritual test.  The loss of a job, the transition to a new city, the beginning of a new venture, the ending of a life chapter, the birth of a new child, the movement from work to retirement can all be examples of thin places, where God seems especially close, or rather, we seem especially close to God.

At the risk of using the most cliched story ever told, the famous story of the man who walked along the beach and saw two footsteps in the sand, and then the period where he saw only only set of footsteps in the sand, and then wondered why God had abandoned him at that moment.  And then God saying, "That's when I was closest to you, I was carrying you, those footsteps were my own."  This is a perfect example of a thin place, where God is literally closer to us, when we need Him than ever before.

The reason I am writing this blogpost, I suppose, is because I feel that I am in just such a thin place in my spiritual walk right now.  I feel like my heart is a great hubble telescope, searching the heavens for images, thoughts, ideas, concepts, meaning and theological truth.  And, like the hubble telescope, my heart is picking up sooo many rich ideas and concepts and truths, I feel which are being sent to me by God.

So, I'm in a thin place.  This thin place will not last forever, but I'm going to make the most of it while I am in it.

Again, sorry grandma,

All for Now,

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