Monday, May 20, 2013

Thin Places

A Joshua Tree
-in the high desert above the coachella valley-

The ancient pagan Celts, and later, Christians believed that there were some particular areas in the geography of the land of Ireland, Scotland and Wales which were especially mystical. Places like the pristine Isle of Iona (Northern Scotland) or the rocky cliffs overlooking the Irish Sea were (and still are) considered to be "thin places"-  places where the distance between humanity and divinity is so thin that the energy of God literally seeps through into human awareness. 

Living out here in the Southern California desert, I have truly come to understand what those ancient Celtic peoples were talking about.

I travel up to the High Desert, above the Coachella Valley where I live,  and walk out onto the desert floor, surrounded by exotic Joshua Trees,  snow-capped mountains in the horizon, and I am indeed in a very "thin place." I can literally feel the energy of God seeping into my body, mind and soul. 

I wake up in the morning, sit in the serenity of my meditation garden,  or walk the dry desert trails dotted with flowering cacti, blooming trees glistening with radiant colors along the pathway, and I am in a "thin place" - the veil between humanity and divinity is porous and "paper-thin." 

But I have also come to realize that I don't have to be in a particular physical location for me to be in a "thin place." We all live and dwell and have our being in God. The experience of the HolyPresence is always and everywhere available to anyone who is willing to live in the moment with hearts and minds open to allow the abiding presence of God to "seep"into our awareness. 

Driving in my car, sitting at the computer, washing the floor, shopping for groceries - these are all potential "thin places."

In his book,  Beauty,  John O'Donohue puts it this way: "Sometimes the urgency of our hunger blinds us to the fact that we are always at the feast. To accept this can change everything; we are always home, never exiled. Although our minds constantly insist on seeing walls of separation, in reality most of the walls are mere veils. In every moment, everywhere, we are not even inches away from the divine presence."

I found a poem/prayer written by Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, a Jewish mystic. I made a copy of this prayer and I am carrying it around with me wherever I go this day.

Where I wander - You! Where I ponder - You!
Only You everywhere You, always, You.
When I am gladdened - You! And when I am saddened - You!
Only You everywhere You, You, always You!
Sky is You! Earth is You!
You above! You below!
In every trend, at every end,
Only You, everywhere You!

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