Monday, March 04, 2013


At the northern end of Chile lies the Atacama Desert. Those who study such things believe it to be the driest desert in the world. Though it borders the Pacific Ocean, it averages less than .004 inches of precipitation a year, and sees no rainfall in some years. Yet, it is exactly those conditions that makes it one of the best places on earth to observe the night sky. Those hot desert days create amazingly clear skies, there is rarely cloud cover or light pollution, and it is at a high elevation. That's why it 'houses' some of the largest astronomical observatories in the world.

It reminds me of what folks call 'thin places' - those spots where the gap between heaven and earth seems but a couple of feet, where the veil between God and us is as thin as phyllo dough. A dozen years ago, I was able to visit some thin places: Gethsemani, Taize, Iona, Lindisfarne, the Northumbria Community, all of which offer tremendous hospitality to pilgrims from all over the world. Places where I recharged my spiritual batteries, and felt closer to God than I had ever experienced, before or since.

While I get back to Gethsemani on a regular basis, I have always hoped to get back to some of the other thin places, especially Iona, before now. God willing (and if I win the lottery or sell a million books!), that might happen this year.  But in the meantime, I am trying to open my soul to those thin places which might just be around me.

Sometimes when I am standing in the woods with Dusty and the wind is gently blowing around us, I feel like if we took just a few more steps, we would cross that boundary.

Sometimes, when I sit on the deck with only the night sky as my companion and the stars softly singing their songs, I am at worship.

Sometimes, as I sit on that child-size chair reading books to the preschoolers with Dusty, I think I could reach through that veil and touch God's face.

Sometimes . . .

© 2013 Thom M. Shuman

No comments: