“I feel God in this Chili’s tonight.” -Pam Beesly
I like the term “thin places”. I started hearing it with some frequency in the last handful of years, and with some context and time I figured out it was used to describe the settings or experiences where we feel close to God, or when the voice of God seems to be more clear. At first, I thought maybe one of those new clever theologians had coined it, but it turns out it’s just another case of people recycling old stuff (Celtic Chritianity and before that Celtic Paganism). In the last devotion, I talked about an influential college astronomy class. That semester I lived in a tent on some friends’ land, so I just happened to have a great view of the stars most nights. I developed a habit of praying with my eyes open staring into the night sky. It had an oddly comforting effect, maybe even because (not despite), looking at that unfathomably big and far away stuff made me feel smaller. So, looking up at stars became a common thin place in my early adulthood. I’ve been reflecting on other thin places of my past: summer camp, making music, the ocean, dark coffee/beer with a friend on a porch, intimate meetings and large gatherings (remember those?); or my current go-tos: the woods, listening to an album straight through, freshwater, and… Zoom church. I’m reminded that I change. Life changes. It seems pretty reasonable that those thin places change too. If my thin place was singing in a socially cramped crowd, and I was unwilling to check out other thin-places-fish in the sea, it might make for a particularly thick year. I don’t claim to understand a whole lot about God or anything for that matter, but one of the things I feel sure-ish enough about (on account of getting it wrong enough times) is that often when we try to limit God to a specific set of practices we worked up or theology we thought up… or thin places we hooked up, we probably just can’t quite see big enough yet. I hope our eyes are open and wide for the thin places we might not have expected during this year we never expected, and beyond.