Dixie Darr

The Thin Places

In spirituality on June 7, 2017 at 8:04 pm

A friend returned from Peru where he had visited Machu Picchu. “It feels very spiritual there,” he said, and everyone nodded although none of the rest of us had ever been there. We had probably all visited places we considered spiritual or sacred.

Ancient pagan Celts said that certain places on Earth stray just a bit closer to God, where holiness can embrace you and you feel God’s Love. They called these the Thin Places.

I’ve experienced that feeling in only two places, Taos and Mesa Verde. Sedona AZ has the reputation as a spiritual place, and people name locations all over the world where heaven and earth seem to collide.

Poet Wendell Berry wrote in “How to be a Poet”  that “There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places and desecrated places.”

That implies that all natural, unspoiled places are sacred and I know many people who insist that nature is their church. I have a tendency to roll my eyes at that, but I could be wrong. I know my niece who regularly hikes 7-10 miles in the Arizona desert gets something spiritual from it (not heat stroke).

On the other hand, Eric Weiner wrote in the New York Times that thin places need not be conventionally sacred. “A park or even a city square can be a thin place. So can an airport.” My nine-year-old great nephew who adores airports would probably agree.

Weiner goes on to describe a tiny Tokyo bar as a thin place because he had a kind of religious experience there. Maybe, although he didn’t mention what he was drinking at said bar. I acknowledge that someone can have a religious experience anywhere, even in a bar, but that doesn’t make them spiritual places. Weiner accepts that “one person’s thin place is another’s thick one.”

If you can’t make it to a recognized thin place, you can always create your own by shutting out the world’s troubles and spending a little time with your maker.


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