Last month I took a trip to the Scottish island of Iona. It is a historic place of pilgrimage and has been described many times as a “thin place where only tissue paper separates the material from the spiritual”. Stepping out of my busy life, I expected to find lots of space on my trip to think and reflect, but instead found other busyness took over for much of it. However, I did come away with memories of a couple of significant moments (like the night where my friend woke me at 3am just to drag me outside in the freezing cold darkness to look at the stars!), and a determination to make more time in my busy life for deliberate breathing space.
Today’s deliberate space started with an early
morning walk around the local park and little lake with my dog, where I paused
to take in the sights and sounds of the beautiful autumn day. And then I went
to a friend’s valley to sit and write. Immediately after Iona I had started to
pen a poem about thin places – picturing myself standing as still as I could on
tiptoes, reaching up with outstretched fingertips, straining to touch the
spiritual. Today I binned that picture. There is no vast gap for us to traverse
with massive effort, but rather multitude of places (from remote Scottish
islands to the little park in the centre of the city) where worlds may quietly touch.
Sat motionless in the middle of the cold night,
Gazing at a billion galaxies
brightly shining above me
I am enveloped in the silence
and the warmth of wonder.
Here are the thin places.
Pausing at the break of the bright new day,
Noticing the vastness of heaven
reflected in the depths
I welcome this mysterious border
at the boundary of my fragile life.
For here in the thin places
Not a desperate reaching out or crossing over
from one realm to the next,
But a convergence of all that is
and all that shall be.
And moulding together the fragments of my divided self
you make me whole.
Here in this thin place.