Autumn in upstate New York is simply stunning. The area we are from is considered to be just on the edge of New England with plenty of history and all the renowned beauty of fall. While this area doesn’t have the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire, the rolling hills make a lovely setting for the splashes of radiant red, nearly neon orange, and bright yellows of the fall leaves. The contrast with the dark green of the pines adds to the breathtaking grandeur.
One particular sunny Sunday afternoon in autumn often comes to mind. My husband and I were taking the backroads to visit his grandparents. It was a route we had taken many times before, as we prefer the backroads to the blandness of the highways. We came up a hill near where a revolutionary tavern is still in use. That part of the road is lined with mature trees on either side. In the fall, these trees are dressed in the most vibrant yellow.
As we crested the top of this hill, the sun came through the trees in such a way that we were momentarily blinded with the splendor. Time stopped and we were transported to an almost mystical place.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”right”]God’s holiness and my humanity come together in a harmonized dance.[/pullquote]Together we inhaled, as if on cue.
Then we turned to each other and grinned. “Let’s do it again!”
So we turned around and retraced our path.
Forever etched into our memories, it was glorious. A hint of heaven.
There is a concept within Celtic Christian spirituality referred to as “thin places”. It is often referred to as a locality where the distance between heaven and earth seem thin or close. These are places where God’s presence is palpable, and the working of his Spirit is obvious. While many within this tradition believe that the thin places are located at specific sites, I see thin places not so much physical, but the places within our lives where God’s holiness is evident.
I believe we had experienced a thin place.
These experiences don’t happen on a daily basis for me. But then again, I am not unfamiliar with the touch of God’s holiness in my life. Much like all of us. We can all recount certain times when God has been especially close. Those times we know God’s presence, and we catch our breath and want more.
I remember the time I prayed for my granddaughter, soon after she was born, and just before they whisked her off to the NICU. God’s presence was evident.
I recognize God’s presence at times when I sit with people during Spiritual Direction. Their stories often create a space where God makes himself known.
Sometimes when I’m walking alone with God, tears start flowing, and I know they are a result of the work of the Spirit on my soul.
These are thin places. God’s holiness and my humanity come together in a harmonized dance.
This is the touch of heaven. An intermittent reminder of what is and what is to come. It always leaves me thirsty for more. These moments, these thin places, are prompts which give me the encouragement I need to continue on this journey of faith. They tell me I am loved. That God is good. His holiness is tangible. And the kingdom of heaven is present with me.
What are your stories of experiencing thin places? I would love to hear those stories in the comments.