A curving road bends with the shape of the river, and two minutes on its course and you feel apart from the city, all her rush left behind.
Five point five miles worth of towering trees lush with late summer, plowed fields with pockets of rainwater, and occasional groupings of mailboxes and horses, and the hills bordering the ravines come into view, and you’re almost there.
It’s a short stretch, no more than a quarter mile, but I anticipate it every time right before turning on the county road to home. A grassy field on the right dotted with tiny purple-blue flowers gradually slopes up to meet the trees that guard the ravine’s edge. The sun catches the light just so, even when rain’s coming, and I notice.
This is a thin place.
The idea of the “thin place” is originally a Celtic belief that there are physical places where the line between heaven and earth, the sacred and the ordinary, is more transparent. Where we can sense God’s presence and glory more readily and powerfully.
While I’d heard the concept before, this devotion from Christianity Today clarifies that thin places can be actual locations, but they can also be everyday rhythms and routines and favorite ways to pray. Essentially, it’s about noticing where and when we feel most connected with God and savoring those thin places. The “holy ground” of normal life.
Thin places can be corporate, but they’re also personal. I doubt everyone who drives that same quarter-mile stretch shares my sentiment, and I surely miss what others consider their thin places. The ocean, lighting a candle and sitting on my couch, worshipping at church, a good conversation with a friend when you just get each other. These are thin places I now anticipate.
But I didn’t anticipate this one. Maybe because right before the turn, there’s a driveway that always has a miscellaneous giveaway at the end of it: a defunct toilet, a cat carrier. Maybe because along the stretch, there’s also a creepy scarecrow that makes me look twice. And maybe because some days it looks so Indiana, so normal.
And yet it’s the first open space beyond our wooded and graveled cul-de-sac to greet me in the morning and welcome me back in the late afternoon light. It feels right to acknowledge, to pray “thank you,” and to lean into the beauty, if only for a moment. Because soon after there will be bicyclists to arc around, words to type, people to see, and dinner to make. I can spare the attention.