In Celtic spirituality there is the concept of the thin place where the visible and invisible world come into their closest proximity. Thin places have a particular quality where our senses are heightened and we open ourselves to a presence greater than ourself.
In the March 11th issue of the Sunday New York Times, in an article entitled: ‘Where Heaven and Earth Come Closer’, the author Eric Weiner offers:
“A thin place is a locale where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine, or the transcendent or, the Infinite Whatever. Not everyone finds the same places thin. It’s what a place does to you that counts. It disorients. It confuses. We lose our bearings, and find new ones. Or not. We are jolted out of old ways of seeing the world…”
Have there been moments in your life when you sensed that there was more going on than meets the eye? More going on than can be quantified, measured, proven?
Such talk drives a scientist friend of mine crazy. He won’t believe in that which he can’t quantify, measure or prove. I respect what he is saying but this has not been my experience.
Throughout my life there have been moments, when I have sensed that undefinable presence that I choose to call God/Spirit. I can’t prove it, measure or quantify it, nor do I feel the need to. I just know this experience to be true.
When I was a child my playground was a 50 acre wetlands that the kids in our neighborhood called ‘Smokey Bear Land’. We kids spent countless hours catching frogs and turtles, making tree houses and listening for the call of birds. For me it was, and nature remains, a magical place, a spiritual place, a ‘thin place’, where I am reminded of a creative power greater than me.
On the sacredness of the natural world, John Muir the great naturalist and mystic wrote:
“I only went our for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. “
Thin places are threshold places, from the Latin limen, which can mean a border or frontier place where two worlds meet and where one has the possibility of communicating with the other. In Celtic spirituality the phrase can refer to places that stand at the border between the spiritual and temporal realms.
On this eve of St. Patrick’s Day, it seems appropriate to reflect upon the importance of thin places in life. For the Celts would teach us, there is always more going on than meets the eye.