Sunday, August 5, 2012
We had a visiting priest at church today. As much as I like to hear Fr. Miguel preach, it's good, I think, to open one's heart to the words of a new speaker -to hear another's interpretation of scriptures that have been homilized (is that even a word? I think I just made it up.) for years upon years.
Today's sermon was about an area between heaven and earth that the acncient Celts refer to as "thin places." A thin place is where the veil that separates heaven and earth is lifted and one is able to receive a glimpse of the glory of God.*
I've heard of thin places before. Maybe even written about them here. I've experienced a thin place as recently as a month ago when I stood on the top of Buck Bald. I did more than just take in the view. I rejoiced in it. As if I was in a holy place. I suspect each of us has encountered our own thin place. That place where we can feel the presence of the holy. Sometimes it is expected, like sitting still on a beach long enough to have the rhythm of the tides meld with the rhythm of our own hearts. Or walking on a path through a wooded area when we see before us rays of sun shining down through the leafy canopy. I believe if one quiets his/her mind enough, rids it of the sounds, smells, and sights of the world, (s)he can find a thin place most anywhere, especially if surrounded by nature's majesty.
But what about other, not so obvious, thin places. Fr. Murphy told a story today of a mother who asks her children each night before they go to sleep, "where did you meet God today?" Their answers become a prayer. And that prayer helps them draw close to the Divine as they drift into sleep.
Sometimes I'm very aware of being in a thin place, or being in place that feels unexpectedly holy. I can still feel a slight hand print on my shoulder from the time I met Pastor Hall in the breakfast room of a Tenn. hotel. Instead of passing him by with a smile, I felt moved to sit, listen and open my heart to whatever might come. I remember rocking Baby Grace to sleep in the same chair I sit in every day. But with her tiny hand in mine, I felt a deep serenity that surely came from heaven. I think of the grace my Sweetie says every night before dinner. Thank you God for our time together and for our future. For that moment, in that thin place, my fear of the unknown places we might be in tomorrow, or next month or next year, is replaced with Divine peace.
Does that peace last long? Probably not as long as it should. I often yank back the prayer request I've laid at God's feet. But that's the nature of thin places. The veil between this world and the spiritual realm is only lifted long enough to catch a glimpse of heaven. To give us a taste of the sweetness. To penetrate each of our senses long enough to make us want more. As the Olympics have shown us, to want more is to strive for more. To strive for more is to invite the holy into our everyday lives. And with the holy as our daily guide we will naturally love more. To love more is to be more joyful, genorous, compassionate, sympathetic, empathetic, understanding, patient, and kind. To be all those things to ourselves and our fellow travelers here on this side of the veil is, I think, why God has placed so many thin places in our midst. " Every sunrise, every sunset, every rainstorm, the hills, the stones ,,, all are charged with a sort of divine presence."*
Today I'm grateful for the reminder to be ever watchful for the thin places on my path.
Where did you meet God today?