Monday, 18 March 2013
It's a way of thinking about spirituality in old Celtic culture. From time to time one encounters a place that, due to its loveliness or quietness or simple majesty, seems to somehow be closer to God...less distance between the things of the world and the presence of God...a thin place.
And, I needed one.
It was a Sunday in front of a loaded week that would have required every bit of my attention to the day job. Instead, the day started with my rush to pack for a trip that I did not want make via an airline that, based on experience, I did not trust to arrive anywhere near my destination to do a professional volunteer job that I did not have time to do. Getting the picture so far?
Then, I stepped in a "gift" from our new puppy and tracked it through my study. I cleaned it up with an attitude that was headed south at the speed of light, grabbed my bags, headed downstairs to load the car, and stepped in another "gift" that she had somehow strategically positioned in my path.
I checked in at the airport already working up to a pretty nasty edge only to find myself participating in a flight experiment wedged into a rear-row-middle-seat in a narrow-bodied aircraft with my knees tapping my teeth. I would have been grinding my teeth, but the knee thing kept interfering.
Any spiritual disciplines that might have had a chance to emerge that morning disappeared somewhere between the instructions on how to use the seat cushion as a float device for our land-locked journey to Atlanta and the threat of incarceration if any of us dared to even think about using an electronic device below 10,000 feet.
I needed a thin place...badly.
God conducted me to one. Right there in row 30, seat B with the seat back and tray table locked in their respective full and upright positions.
I found that if I twisted carefully, I could use the one free arm and two fully extended fingers to just hook my kit that was stowed under the seat in front of me, and I nabbed a book I had thrown in as an afterthought between gifts one and two that morning. I had promised a friend that I would read it..."Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo.
Its a story about a man who is going through a hard time and a remarkable experience with his four-year old son who taught him that God is real. As I read the book, God used the experience of that young family to remind an over-stressed sixty-two year old that His promises are real, that He remains in control of me and the work He has assigned to me, and that my responsibility is to yield myself, my thought, and my worry to Him.
Thanks to a little boy named Colton Burpo, I was in a thin place in the presence of God. The edge withdrew. The airline arrived on time at the promised place. The work went well. The university survived without me. The puppy and I are negotiating a truce. And, I am reminded freshly that if America is to be transformed, we who profess to follow Christ must follow Him on His terms.
And...its St. Patrick's Day. I thought you could use a story about a thin place.
Hold on tight,