Thin Places

by The Rev. Dr. Jason Parkin

The island of Iona is, after Wrigley Field, my favorite place on earth. An island three miles long and slightly over a mile wide, Iona is located near the Isle of Mull off the western Highlands of Scotland; and it is, quite simply, the most beautiful place I have ever seen in person.

Iona is most famous for being the place St. Columba used both as the location for his monastic community, beginning in 563, and as the base for the missionary efforts by Celtic monks to take the Good News into Scotland and northern England. Although Columba's monastery is long gone, the mediaeval foundation built over its ruins is now the home to the vibrant, ecumenical Iona Community.

One facet of mediaeval Celtic spirituality that has long spoken to my heart is the concept of "thin places:" the belief that certain locations are particularly holy because the membrane between heaven and earth is thin and permeable. The early Celtic Christians sought out such places and often made of them important centers of pilgrimage, prayer or worship. In a thin place, one can sense clearly and even tangibly God's presence, God's nearness, the intimate embrace of God's grace.

Do you have any thin places? Are there locations, or even memories or experiences, that are thin places or "thin moments" in your relationship with God?

Holy Comforter is such a place for me; and perhaps it is for you, as well. Think of the
understated beauty and warmth of nave and chancel, open every minute of every day for prayer and contemplation, or of the serenity of the cloister and columbarium, filled with dozens of faithful people who have preceded us into God's embrace. Hear in your mind's ear the clarion call of the carillon chiming the hours in God's day and calling us to worship. Recall the joyous, holy chaos created by the children of the parish and the soaring splendor of voices raised in song. Is not Holy Comforter a thin place where God is specially and wonderfully present, where spirits are restored and souls renewed, where we feel enveloped by goodness and grace?

If this place is such a thin place for you, seek it often. Come worship with your sisters and brothers on Sundays and during the week. Be nurtured by the adult formation programs. Join in the Bible Study or the Prayer Group or the Shawl Ministry. Nourish your children through church school and choir and youth group. Simply come to sit in silence and commune with the Holy One. Make more intense and intentional your connection to this community and to God by immersing yourself in the holy "thinness" of Holy Comforter.