Looking for Thin Places

I’m reading a lot about monasticism and ancient spiritual disciplines right now. It probably doesn’t sound that interesting, but I am the kind of person who loves a deep dive into a research project. (So much to learn in this world and so little time with which to learn it!) As a mature but still hungry Christian, I am looking into ancient disciplines as a tool for knowing God more intimately.

In my reading this week I came across the term “thin places.” The Celtic Christians used this word to describe the places where heaven seemes especially near, where the invisiable barrier between our seen world and the spirit world becomes thin. Santuaries, altars, prayer rooms, and chapels have all been considered thin places. Nature offers thin places as well: mountain tops, sea sides, deserts, and trees. The thin place is anywhere that God feels especially near.

I’m looking for thin places this week. I’ve certainly felt them before but I’ve never used this terminology. I remember the thin place in the hospital rooms of my infant daughters – one went to Jesus, the other one stayed with us but pushed us near to Him at the same time. I feel a thin place anytime I visit a beautiful cathedral or an old country church.

I wonder, where do you find thin places? Does it always seem thin in the same place no matter your mood or circumstances, or do thin places come and go? Could you feel a thin place that I didn’t notice at all? Is this just a hyper-spiritual idea or is there some truth to this experience?

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Looking for Thin Places

  1. howtosmile

    I think that Thin Places has less to do with a physical “thinness” between the mundane and spiritual worlds, and more to do with how the place makes YOU feel. When you are in a peaceful place and are peaceful yourself, you are more open and aware of The Divinity. When it is quiet, you can hear.

    I’m not a Christian, but I find churches very peaceful. I love the reverence of them. That feeling exists when I am before my altar, when I am walking in the park at sunrise, and in my Mother’s old bedroom.

  2. I’m a big believer in thin places. I’ve felt them in church, in nature, or sometimes when a song comes on that brings back a flood of good memories. Oddly (or maybe not), I’ve also felt them at funerals, when my heart was about to burst with sadness.

    But the thinnest place I’ve ever experienced was one night watching my 2 daughters — then ages 5 and 2 — dance like ballerinas to a classical song we were playing. I wasn’t saying a word; just watching, and it hit me. There, in that moment, I got it. I understood.

    Thanks for posting about thin places. It’s a favorite subject of mine as you can tell from the thick comment.

  3. Tracy

    I’ve definitely experienced “thin places” during my lifetime, but I never knew they had a name! It’s easy to find these places when I’m sitting out in the country or by the ocean, or in the middle of some powerful worship music. But sometimes these places catch me by surprise. Have you ever been just working along in your day and suddenly been very aware of God’s nearness to you? Stops me in my tracks. Sometimes I don’t find the thin places…He does.

  4. My front porch is the thinnest place around my home, especially if the clock bells are ringing at Truman. I absolutely love this term. Remember Emily’s “flash”? She said it was like the veil fluttering aside for a moment? I wonder if LM Montgomery had heard of thin places.

  5. Alison

    Hi Felicity,

    I liked your blog on Thin Places. If you’re interested, I have my own on my blog: http://www.stegosauruspress.wordpress.com/thin-places Hope you like mine too! 🙂

  6. Thin places are certainly everywhere to be found & some are without doubt thinner than others’. Iona is a prime & ancient example. But I am not at all sure that this will ever happen to us if we go looking for them. Problem is such a search can hardly help but be rather self centred. Our surroundings thicken then. If one may suggest a `more excellent way’ : strive to eliminate all presence, all thoughts, of self and uppermost all hopes of encountering thinness and sometime it just may happen.
    Blessings john

  7. Glad to have found you … I’m writing a post for tomorrow on “thin places.” I googled thin places to see what else came up … and here I found you!

    I was in a thin place on a Colorado mountaintop this week — though I can just as easily find thin places here on the flatlands of Iowa.

    Blessings to you. Thanks for this post.

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