You may never experience it. Or you might only catch a glimpse or a faint whisper, but then shrug it off. Most never stop long enough to capture it, breathe it in as real and life-changing. And certainly very few ever realize that the experience has a name or even a source. But sometimes there it is and you just know. In a mysterious, did that just happen, kind of way. You know because you were there. Though you’re not quite sure where there is. And somehow in your glimpse, nothing is ever quite the same in the root of who you are and what you believe in…..
Last early January 2014, with the whole year stretched before us with hope, I shared in a Sunday Mass at St. Ignatius Church on the campus of Boston College with a cherished friend (really she’s more like the sister that I never had) of 30+ years. Any day we’re together is a gift. This day just had the added bonus of hearing shared words that we’d talk about and consider in all the days to follow, including this morning. The sermon on that January day was moving, magnetic, and confirming. Ahh, there it is!! Finally, that feeling has a name! And it’s called experiencing a thin place.
There is a Celtic saying that heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in the thin places that distance is even smaller. A thin place is known to be where the veil that separates heaven and earth is lifted and one is able to receive a glimpse of the glory of the Divine. There is a deep sense of believing in something, somewhere — whatever that may be for each of us. The whisper, the glimmer of a thin place is a blend of all that is seen and unseen. You may experience a sense of undeniable peace or hope. You may actually hear a powerful message. Sometimes it’s a nudge or an answer or a blessing. You will be okay. Don’t be afraid anymore. Leave your worry behind. Take the leap.
We can’t pack our cars with a picnic lunch and head to a thin place destination. It just does not work like this. There is no ticket or website advertising a thin place as such. If that were to happen the essence of the peace and tranquility would be negated. And everyone’s place is different, at a unique time for him or her when the Divine is bestowing a gift, a chance, a hunch. We never quite know when we will enter into and experience the aura of a thin place. But if you are open and watching and listening, you will just know when you are there. No doubt, believing thin places actually exist will enhance your chances of truly and divinely experiencing one someday.
The photo above was captured in August 2006 on the Blackfeet Reservation of Glacier National Park, Montana at the late afternoon hour of around 5 p.m. While standing in this grove of Aspen trees I did not know in that moment, like I do now, that the Blackfeet people relied totally on the buffalo for everything from clothing to food and to tools. I did not know that the Blackfeet held their Creator known as Old Man in such high esteem and that much of their life guidance came through dreams and awakenings. And that the land and water and air were spiritual partners on their life journey. Here in this Place I was not even thinking. I was receiving. As those tender Aspens swayed in unison and whispered to me, I was somewhere else … the soft sunlight cast a glow and the moment was mystical, unlike anything I’ve ever known. The Presence was very real and undeniable. My glimpse was a powerful message of peace and revelation. Be still. Don’t worry.
All these years later I recall the feeling of that Place with great joy and gratitude often calling on this scene to bring me serenity. So when I first heard the term thin place, this image on the Reservation came immediately into my mind’s eye. With my glimpse that August, nothing was ever quite the same in the root of who I am and what I believe in…..
May this New Year bring you peace and balance and hope. May you know when you have entered a place of the Divine. And may you come to trust in all that is unseen.