From the Pastor
I have been talking to a lot of people about congregational care over the last couple of weeks. One of the ways I have been framing the conversation is to talk about thin places. Thin places are places or moments when God is seen, when the veil between us and God is so thin that we can experience and see God. A thin place is a holy and sacred place. There are many different thin places.
I began to think about how we know when we encounter a thin place. I have been trying to pinpoint what this experience of a thin place really is. If thin places are more than what a community has labeled as a Holy Place such as a sanctuary or a site of pilgrimage, then can thin places be completely individualized and defined? Is the experience of God just any positive feeling? What does it mean to see God? What do we mean when we say we see God in the everyday comings and goings?
- So I began to think about moments when I have experienced what I think of as Thin Places –
The mountains of Colorado are a thin place for me. I feel connected to my family and connected to the mountains, trees, streams. In hiking through God’s mountainous creation I experience meaning.
- I have the experience occasionally while petting Penny (my host family’s very cute labradoodle puppy) of just being amazed at her aliveness. She is so different from me yet she is a living, breathing, feeling creature. I am in awe.
- This past Sunday we celebrated Genie’s birthday; that was a thin place. Hearing J.T.’s poem and seeing her surprise and her love of the music and the church. Her love for us and our love for her shined through the celebration and in that I felt God’s presence and God’s movement.
I realized that for me seeing God and experiencing a thin place is an encounter with a power beyond me, an experience of life and reverence for life outside of me. A thin place is when my life is connected to that infinite beyondness. A life of faith is being connected to the infinite, to the More, to the Other. We live trying to turn our faces to God and to see God intertwined with the world. There are lots of different ways to experience this connection to the Beyondness. These are all thin places. Sometimes thin places leave you with great joy, but others with great sorrow. But always thin places leave you with more aliveness, more connection, more awareness.
You might be wondering what this has to do with congregational care. When we experience More, when we experience a connection with meaning that is beyond our life, when we see another with reverence, when our connection with life brings us to experience God we turn our faces to God and to one another. When we experience the connections we have with one another as God-moments we practice looking beyond ourselves for meaning. This practice brings us to care for one another in amazing ways. We pay attention to one another, we remember one another, we see God in our connection with one another. Our meaning becomes intertwined with one another.
So pay attention this week. When do you feel that connection with More, with the infinite, with God? How does it affect you? How does it speak to you? A thin place might take hold of you walking down the street, in a familiar or strange place, in a crowd or in solitude. Pay attention. Don’t ignore the feeling but turn toward it, be in awe; take in your connection as a living, breathing child of God to the infiniteness that is God in our world.