Being a ‘Thin Place’ in the World we Live

Introduction:- for many years now I have been intrigued and drawn to the concept, and idea, of there being ‘thin places’ in the world. I have spoken and written many times on this subject and also explored the idea as to whether we can be a conduit for, as well as experience, thin places ourselves. This is part of a series of two blogs – Being a Thin Place in the World we Live and A Thin Place …Experienced - that pulls from some of my past writing, speaking notes and experiences but also my latest reflections. I hope you enjoy them.


Being a ‘Thin Place’ in the World we Live


Within the tradition of Celtic spirituality there is a strong belief that there exists ‘thin places’. These are defined as where the veil between heaven and earth is “thinnest” – where the supernatural and the natural mix….. where the world that is to come is found to be here…..where heaven touches earth….. where the mystery of the creative impulse is found……. where things unexplainable are curtained not in thick velvet, but see through thin silk.


A Thin Place is where the idea of shrines and holy places find their origin and where miracles and extraordinary things are hoped for and possible. Where ancient ‘saints’ and other mysterious ‘ancients’ are venerated and said to still work their powers. They are places to pilgrimage to….. to tread the ancient paths in search of answers and in the hope of miracles, to discover something of the ‘other worldliness’. To search out mysteries but also to find mystery and not have to solve it but indulge in it.


Some say silly superstition, others that you are playing with fire, still others it’s pagan idolatry. But are we ignoring the fact that all religions have these traditions and there is a weight of evidence that exists in their favour.


We could take a slightly different approach: how about each of us aspiring to being or becoming a thin place? A place where people can come and find something extraordinary, a touch and taste of heaven, a miracle of love or mercy or kindness or encouragement? That we become a conduit for ‘heavens’ presence ~ a place where heaven touches earth? Where we ourselves become a place of pilgrimage. That we become the ‘sought out place’ that others can find a sense of peace, acceptance, grace, kindness or forgiveness, not that we can originate these things ourselves but we can be a conduit, a thin place between heaven and earth.


When we set up our artist collective A Thin Place, we looked for a name that would be intriguing and attract those that were searching and looking for something more …perhaps even something ‘spiritual’. We wanted to create a place that people could pilgrimage to and find each other, find inspiration, find a community to help them, to collaborate with them and interact. Somewhere you could journey together, build together and commune together. A place to create together, to find the creative impulse and help others find theirs. A place to find community, collaboration and kindness. A place to find peace, promote peace and make peace. A place to rediscover ancient rhythms and to tell stories about our journey, listen to the stories of others on the journey and highlight stories of those that are voiceless. We wanted to have somewhere to create, to learn, and to serve.


Finally, to create a place, an environment, where we could connect with something bigger than ourselves, where the ‘other worldliness’ wouldn’t be strange or laughed at or dismissed. I’m not sure we achieved all of that or even a small part of it but we loved being on the road….we started a journey and we welcomed other travellers!


Even though the artist collective has, to all intents and purposes, physically dissolved I think all those that were involved still harbour the desire and ‘spirit’ to create these places again…..even become such a place ourselves…..let’s not abandon the quest.


Ian Rowlands