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  • Debbie Thrower

What makes somewhere a ‘thin place’?

Updated: Feb 2


Out on a river at dawn witnessing a blood-orange sky... a thin place indeed for some

Maidstone Anna Chaplain Elizabeth Bryson muses on the definition of a ‘thin place’...


A ‘thin place’ is where we feel especially close to heaven, experiencing the peace and presence of Jesus in a special way.


‘The Celtic saints often referred to somewhere as a “thin place”. This referred to when the spiritual atmosphere of a location made it easy to connect with God, almost as though there is no barrier between heaven and earth… These places still exist and people hungry to encounter the living God will actively seek them out. We might call it a pilgrimage and some places are obvious like Iona in Scotland, or Lindisfarne (Holy Island) in Northumberland. However, there are many ancient portals which are hidden and waiting to be discovered. Places where the air is still “thin” and God can more easily be found. These places are often where Christians in previous centuries worshipped and prayed, creating a portal, like at Bethel, where angels ascend and descend between heaven and earth.’ [1]

The parish of Walsingham is often described as a ‘thin place’ – a peaceful place where people feel particularly close to heaven. It is a ‘thin place’, as described by Jeffrey John where ‘the veil between this world and eternity seems to fade away, and we know that we are united with Christ and his saints.’ [2]


Our care home residents cannot visit Iona, Holy Island, Walsingham or even their own church building to meet with Jesus. One of my recent prayers for them is that (for them) their room in their care home might become a ‘thin place’ where they meet with Jesus and know the closeness of his loving peace and presence.


‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day’ (2 Corinthians 4:16, NIV). Care home residents and older people living at home are aware that ‘outwardly we are wasting away’. However, how wonderful that they should also experience ‘yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.’


My 90-year-old mother lives in a care home and talked to me about ‘thin places’ that she read about in a booklet she had been given for Christmas. I was moved to think about how she cannot visit any one of those places now, and later I shared the above verse with her and talked and prayed with her about her room in her care home being a ‘thin place’ for her, where she meets with the Lord. She found this very helpful. I will share this reflection with some of my care home residents in Maidstone.


Thanks be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits thou hast given me, for all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me. O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may I know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly, day by day. Amen. [3]

[1] celticglory.com/thin-place [2] ‘Welcome from the Dean’ in the services booklet for Saturday 5 March 2011 at St Alban’s Abbey [3] loyolapress.com/catholic-resources/prayer/traditional-catholic-prayers/saints-prayers/day-by-day-prayer-of-saint-richard-of-chichester


 

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