In my old life, I once wrote an article about my fascination with sacred places. As a child and as an adult, I spent countless hours walking the battlefields of Manassas/ Bull Run, Vicksburg, and Yorktown.

Sacred places, those are.
Holy ground, if you will.
Points on the compass worthy of our honor and respect.

In Celtic tradition, what I call sacred might best be described as thin places.

Thin places are locations where the veil between this world and the next is thin. And, for whatever reason one can feel the sacred nature.

Old battlefields do that to me. Every time.

My ancestry is for the most part Scottish/Irish and German. I may not be a good Irishman or Scot, but I am achingly fascinated with the idea of thin places.

In every battlefield I have ever visited, I have unexpectedly found an eery spot where my hair stood on end and chill bumps arose–a place where I felt a communion/ kinship with those who fought, bled, and died there.

You can laugh at my words or think me silly or daft. I am good with that. I am also good with believing there are certain places where the veil between worlds is thin.

I long for the day when the veil is torn away. When thin places are no more. When this world and the next are no longer separated.

In the meantime, I crave thin places and thin moments. I desperately want to feel communion with my boy. I’d love to have dreams where he came to me.

Instead, what I have today is a paper thin faith.

Some days I am stronger. But not today.
No, not today.

Paper Thin Faith.

Maybe you have been there.
Maybe you too have experienced a faith that is so very, very fragile.

When faith is paper thin, it is all you can do to just hold on.

God, I cannot wrestle at all today. I would be more apt to scream or curse at you. I am sick of the platitudes. I am weary of hearing how good you are especially when it feels more like absence at best or unconcern at worst. My faith is thin. Paper thin. At this moment, it wouldn’t take much to tear it completely apart. I am weary of you. So today, while I don’t have any reason for great expectations, please let me just sit here awhile and try to hold on. And God, would it be to much to have just a momentary encounter with a thin place or a thin time…


13 thoughts on “Thin

  1. I think you would like the “Ragamuffin Gospel” book by Brennan Manning (an alcoholic doubter desperately in love with God). He died on Friday. Wonderful, real man of God, no pretenses. In one of his books he talked about a person that heard Christians talk about “practicing the presence of God’…..he said some times he would get quiet and “practice His absence”….sometimes that is where I am…but I know that He is always out there ahead of me…..even when I can’t see or “feel” Him….He must also be the God of distance and desolation, or He cannot be God at all…

  2. Well, I am glad I read this at home- needed time to absorb. The concept of Thin Places keeps appearing in my reading and study groups. I am paying attention, God. Really, I am!

  3. I too have gone through my “devastation” in life and have questioned on many occasions how I will make it to the next day. Albeit, my devastation would be mild to many who know your story. I am so thankful that I did not walk away from God, although I felt pulled in that direction. You have been an inspiration to me as you write and seem to talk to God. Many times I believe I talked at Him, but I am so thankful that I continued to converse. That, I believe is why I am still able to do what I do. Praying for you on a daily basis and know that God is blessing me with your words on many, many occasions.

  4. I too look (feel) thin places – often, in the Vicksburg Military Park, Natchez, certain places on my Dad’s farm, and always in the Yokena Cemetary and Yokena Presbyterian Church. Seldom do I experience this in a worship service – isn’t that interesting.

    Les, I feel sure that one day when the pain is less raw and the grief less all-consuming, Cole will come to you (if only in your dreams) and what a gift that will be. I pray for that time for you and for this thin place.


  5. This may not be the “right” words or what you want to hear but Les that was so beautifully written that it is haunting in its beauty.

  6. When I was preaching at the Long Beach (CA) church, there were some Sundays when the presence of the Holy Spirit was so evident. Didn’t know the concept of “thin places” then, but those were thin Sundays! Without exception, those Sundays would occur when I would forego the sermon for the day in favor of present needs to be met.

    I can relate to thin faith.

    Thanks, Les.

    • You are welcome! And thanks to you as well. Look forward to hearing about your trip to Pepperclimb (that’s what my buddy John Dobbs always calls it).

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