‘Are you hurting and broken within? Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin? Jesus is calling.’
The Celtic Christians had a phrase ‘the thin place,’ the rare places where heaven and earth kiss, collapsing the space between them, tectonic plates of charisms and grace where from the gaps God bursts forth in beauty and power.
If you seek them, you can find them. Sometimes they are in the most unlikely of places. Others are known, established, places of pilgrimage for many generations. Let me tell you the story of a thin place, a house of prayer, of welcome, of greeting each person crossing its threshold as a potential Christ. It is the story of ordinary exposed as extraordinary, of worship in both sacrament and household chores, of wrestling the chains from the ones you love as they wrestle your own chains from you.
It is the story of losing your life in order to really find it.
I’m good with seasons of life. I always have been. If anything, I am too good at them, closing them before they’ve officially closed. I’ve been ready for each school transition, to move from one degree to the next, to shift from my current working life into ordinand. But as the countdown to the end of my year in God’s time speeds up, I’m not ready. I don’t want to leave. I don’t want it to stop. I want to forever skip into Lambeth Palace on a Monday evening, stumble over the language of BCP in evening prayer, sing a chorus of praise at every opportunity, set off indoor fireworks, send back not-clean-yet plates to a musical soundtrack, share the peace, receive a hug from a foretaste of heaven, have the hairs of my arm stand on end as the harmonies of the nunc dimitis rise, leave in silence. I want to forever treasure and be treasured by these gifts of Jesus wrapped up in unique and loving and kind and beautiful and brave people, with amazing stories and incredible hearts.
I suppose, if we’re being honest, I don’t want a year in God’s time. I want a lifetime in God’s time. I want to always live with this bit of grief that this season will end before I am ready, because in this pain I will always be reminded of how much I love these people and how much they love me. In this pain, I will never again come to God’s altar with ambivalence, but over-awed by his gift of forgiveness, along with the gift of discomfort wrought by the disunity of Christians and how unity must be a priority if we want to see God’s kingdom here on earth.
We can’t all live in thin places. But we can all be thin people, vessels of God’s truth and beauty, a bit cracked, a bit bruised, but testaments to the profound goodness of God’s creation and creativity. We can all play our part in the continued creation of God’s earth, knowing it is a gift to do so and not contingent on our own striving.
If my time with St Anselm at the thin place of Sclerder has taught me anything (and really, it’s taught me so much) it’s that God is love.
God is love.
And he shows he is love in remarkable, transformative, dramatic, simple, ordinary, extraordinary ways. Through his word, through Christ, through the Spirit, through the bread and wine, through his whispers in the night, through the waves hitting the sand, through his fearfully and wonderfully made children – of which you are one. And that love makes striving redundant. It shouts down all lies of unworthiness or unwantedness because love is calling your name. And you wade through that love, the weight anchors you, it is balm, it is refreshment. And it changes you.
So seek out the thin places. Wade in the treasures of God you encounter there. But let me tell you that within every person is a thin place. Within you is a thin place. The divine spark of God deep within you meets your story, meets your life and is ready to burst forth. Unlock it receiving all the love God has for you.