The Celts knew “thin” spaces, where ‘the space between heaven and earth grows thin’ and where God’s presence is close enough to touch.
Christian Celts believed thin spaces were geographical locations where they felt God's presence intensely. Iona, Lindisfarne, or Santiago de Compostela were thin places for early pilgrims setting out to meet God. Today, they remain thin places for encountering God and becoming aware of His creation.
A garden, a street, a chapel, a bench in a park, a ‘prayer closet’ of any description might become a thin place where, for a nanosecond, a jolt of His grace, His lavish mercy and love become joyfully, deeply real.
Awareness of thin space is one of those “surprised by joy” encounters that God gives us at rare times. The sudden unlooked-for shot of recognition doesn’t last, nor is it meant to on this side of the membrane. Beyond the senses, thinness is promise and hope in our times of panic, trying to make sense of what’s happening around us. His Presence is the peace we cannot understand; we only gratefully receive.
“Those that look to Him are radiant/ and their faces are never ashamed [or depressed, or discouraged, or …]” Ps. 34:5
If God is in thin places, then definitely He’s with us in “thick” places where there’s only a long grey road ahead, uncertainty, loss, fear, one foot in front of the other. What can we do?
More than the banal “we’ll get through this”, His Holy Spirit comes alongside us, groaning our thick-space anguish. Then – ah! He makes us aware of the indescribably real Presence of God. He gives gifts without measure to share, to build up. Can we not, if privileged to inhabit His thin space, offer His kindness to others in patient prayer, live in His truth by His Gospel, unashamedly His?
We thus live out the second great commandment, bringing God due glory, determinedly committed to Him and His Body, becoming one in Him. It’s a wonderful thin space; it’s His work, and our joy.
“I’ll be with you through thick and thin” says the old promise that Jesus made, though not in those words. His are: “ I will be with you to the end of the age.” (Mt. 28:20).
What are your thin spaces?