Mid Week Reflection – Thin Places

Thin Places

Libasstref – Creative Commons – Wikimedia Commons

George MacLeod (1895-1991) the Founder of the 20th Century Community of Iona described Iona as ‘a thin place where only a tissue paper separates heaven and earth’. It is a dramatic way to describe a place. George MacLeod meant that the ‘veil between the physical and the spiritual, the mortal was almost transparent, a place where only a sheet of tissue paper separates the material from the spiritual’.

Thin places are places where we feel the presence of God. It could be a place where the land, sky or seascapes overwhelm us and we have an experience we find hard to put into words. It could also be in the ruins of an ancient monastery, that has been saturated by the prayers of the faithful, in a small plain chapel or the place where you worship today.

Our sacred texts can become a thin place, when the words of scripture capture our imagination. That moment when we grasp the mystery contained within the words and give God a chance to be heard.

I wonder if for Jesus his thin places were around Galilee?

Sea of Galilee
Eduard Marmet – Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 – Wikimedia Commons

O sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
when Jesus shared on bended knee
the silence of eternity
interpreted by love,
(From Dear Lord and Father of mankind John Greenleaf Whittier 1807 – 1892)

We all may have our special space / place, our own ‘thin place. I remember a member of the church I was parish priest to. We enjoyed many a conversation and on one occasion she spoke of her special, sacred place. The special space was to be sat in church, when there were few people around. She would sit and gaze on this Cross and be drawn into its art, its colour, what it represents and a sense of God’s presence. She added ‘I can’t explain it, I just can’t find the words.’ I told her not to worry and perhaps it’s good she can’t find the words. It’s your special place with God, hold onto it. I am convinced she needed it.

It is good to slow down, to slow down your breathing, taking deep breaths and sense that moment of sacredness, your sacred space, your thin place.

+ In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Almighty God,
whose only Son has opened for us
a new and living way into your presence:
give us pure hearts and steadfast wills
to worship you in spirit and in truth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
(Common Worship Collect for the 14th Sunday of Trinity )


Psalm 24
God claims Earth and everything in it,
God claims World and all who live on it.

Who can climb Mount God?
Who can scale the holy north-face?

God is at their side;
with God’s help they make it.

Wake up, you sleepyhead city!
Wake up, you sleepyhead people!
King-Glory is ready to enter.
Who is this King-Glory?
God-of-the-Angel-Armies: he is King-Glory. (The Message)

Verses where perhaps Jesus found his ‘thin places’

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed (Mark 1:35)

Jesus went out to a mountain side to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him. (Luke 6:12-13)

Jesus said . . . ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” (Mark 6:31-32)

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’” (Luke 11:1)

The Psalmist recognises that the earth belongs to God and that some places are particularly holy. These sacred, ‘thin place’ reveal of God and invite us to discover God, a God who is present in all things. These ‘thin places’ are everywhere, but it can take time for us to experience God, divinity.
Who can climb Mount God?
Who can scale the holy north-face?
God is at their side;
with God’s help they make it. Psalm 24

Where is your thin place, perhaps you have not thought about it. Stop, think allow your memory to take you to you thin place. You may have more than one!

Read again the Gospel words above and rest in them and pray . . .

Our pilgrimage, dear Lord, can be on paths we know
or lead to unfamiliar places; mountain tops, sacred spaces
where saints of the past found peace and healing.
But it is in the journeying as much as the destination
that blessing can be found.
For you are there with us, our daily guide along this,
the path we choose to follow. You are Lord of the journey. Amen (John Birch)

Bless our feet that they might tread the path prepared.
Bless our hands that they might show your love’s embrace.
Bless our words that they might share your grace and peace. (John Birch)

Let us draw into our circle of prayer our:
Local church and its leaders
wider community
widening our circle to include:
those in government and positions of authority
those who are oppressed
those who are hungry and homeless
those who are ill
those facing death
Merciful Father, accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

The Lords Prayer

+ In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Bless those close to us, our family and friends. Bless the neighbourhood of which we are a part. Bless this town or city we think of as our home. Bless the young and old, faces known or strangers. Keep them safe and well, meet them in their needs, our loving God, we pray. (John Birch)

*John Birch Sunshine – Storm page 10,112 & God Beside Us page 22

You may wish the finish this time of reflective prayer sitting silently and enjoying a peaceful moment or two. You may also think about listening to some music that has touched you or a favourite hymn or song. Enjoy these moments! God bless!

Derek Akker

An interesting footnote. The students who working on the Cross ran out of coloured glass. A few pieces are clear glass put over Roses chocolate wrapper!