It wasn’t too many years ago I heard the expression “thin places” for the first time and knew I was “suppose to “ know what it meant and appreciate its importance. Unfortunately, I neither knew what it meant nor did I know why I should be impressed by a conversation on thin places. If I recall correctly, it was explained to me that a “thin place” was someplace where the “veil” between heaven and earth was “thin” and we could easily touch or be touched by heaven (or the divine or God).
Jump forward several years and I am traveling to Florida to visit my wife’s family. My wife and stop and take time to walk along a beach on the Gulf of Mexico. While I was standing on the beach, listening to the surf, and looking at the beach and water and sky, I was overwhelmed by a sense of the presence of the Holy. I don’t have many other words for it except that I felt I was “standing on holy ground.”
Jump forward a few more years to this past weekend. Again, I am in Florida with my wife and standing on a beach (this time an Atlantic beach). It was very nice. It was pleasant. But no sense of overwhelming holiness touched me.
Is it about geography? Are Gulf beaches inherently more “holy” than Atlantic beaches? Is it about time? Are beaches holy at a particular time of the day, or on a particular day of the week, or only at certain times of the year? Is it about the sound or the climate? Is it about me? Does the “holy” only show up when I am in certain attitude?
I have no doubt that on that beach on the Gulf of Mexico years ago I sensed in a special way the presence of the Holy. My experience this past weekend was also educational. It helps me remember I cannot “make” God show up.
Maybe I can do things to prepare myself. I can do things that make me more open to God’s presence, I can spend time looking for glimpses of God but can I control where and when and how I encounter God?
If I go back to that Gulf beach, what will I find? Should I go back there to “meet” God again? Or, should I ….. ?
Where and when have you encountered a “thin place?” Where and when will it happen again? What do you bring to the place?