Today we begin a conversation about Tracy Balzer’s book, Thin Places. It is an invitation to Celtic spirituality. I hope you join us.
An opening question: What have you learned from the Celtic way?
Tracy begins with a succinct survey of her spiritual autobiography and provides an example of how God has spoken to her — in prayer and worship, sacrament, Word, fellowship, intellect, friendship, silence and the Celtic way.
Each chapter has a journal entry, a discussion of a topic, a Celtic Blessing (always worth it to read these), a meditation text and some discussion questions. (Thus, this book is great for a group.)
The focus of today is on “thin places.” The pagan Celts believed that certain places were sacred and loaded with religious significance. As the Celtic regions became infused with Christians, especially after St. Patrick, those sacred places were Christianized. They became what is called “thin places.”
What is a thin place? “Any place that creates a space and an atmosphere that inspires us to be honest before God and to listen to the deep murmurings of his Spirit within us is thin” (298).
We don’t have to go to Iona or to Glendalough or to Monasterboice or Saul — anyone been to these places? We don’t have enter a church or find a retreat center or go to the woods or alongside a beach — thin places are anywhere that is conducive for us to listen to and hear from God. But many of us know some thin places — and many of us have experienced thin places in a place like Iona.
“What makes a place truly thin? Before all else, the answer lies in our own internal landscape” (38). I like this expression: “our own internal landscape.”
A major issue for most of us is that we find ourselves often in “thick places.” That is, where God seems absent or distant or we seem especially unreceptive. We need some discipline and we need to wait on God.
Two of Tracy’s questions: What is the thinnest place you’ve been to? What are the things that make your world “thick”?