The Thin Places

In this past week of devotions, writer Jan Richardson1 shared a beautiful idea from the Celtic tradition: that in certain spots and at specific times, there are “thin places,” where the veil between worlds becomes permeable, and heaven and earth meet.

I have a hunch that the veil between earth and heaven, time and eternity, is an illusion – mere perception from our human side of things – and that eternity and heaven are with us all along. Plato’s two worlds approach never did sit well with a lot of Christian theology. God is with us – “Emmanuel” – whether or not we have “eyes to see” or “ears to hear” all the angels singing around us.

It’s amazing how the Divine does get through our surface preoccupations. I remember walking around a historic church building on the island of Molokai. The small, white-clapboard structure was locked up, but there was a churchyard cemetery behind it. As I walked among the headstones, a flood of love washed over me. Entire generations of faithful living had taken place here, and their witness continues to be palpable. It brought a flood of tears, in joy and gratitude for the holiness that has taken place (as St. Paul says,) “from the first day until now.”2

Heaven and earth meet in the “thin places” of time, as well as of space: perhaps in this time, as we celebrate the birth of Christ and ponder its meaning. May we be awed and expressive “stewards of God’s mysteries.”3

Your partner in ministry,

Betsy Schwarzentraub

1 – Jan L. Richardson, “Where Heaven and Earth Meet,” Dec. 22-28, 2014, in Upper Room Disciplines, 2014

2 – Philippians 1:5

3 – 1 Corinthians 4:1