Thin Places

As Our Lady’s Missionaries celebrated the Feast of the Assumption of Mary last August 15’th, the idea of Thin Places came to mind.  My understanding of Thin Places is that these are spots where the physical world draws very close to the Holy.  Mary being bodily assumed into heaven strikes me as a Thin Place. 

The Gospel that day featured Mary setting out to visit Elizabeth and upon her arrival, proclaiming her Magnificat.  I remember theologian Mary Malone explaining in a class, many years ago, that Mary and Elizabeth weren’t just chatting….  The scene Mary Malone described was of Mary and Elizabeth shouting with excitement and glee while they were still some distance from each other.

And so, years later as I walked the mountainous country-side of Mindanao in the Philippines, and heard my companion shouting to her mother in the distance…  Mary and Elizabeth came to mind, and that spot became a Thin Place for me.

Every time I hear Luke 6:38, “…give and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put in your lap…”, I remember the day I purchased rice in the market in Vandeikya, Nigeria.  The woman selling the rice scooped bowlfuls of it into the measure, an old cooking oil tin; then she shook the tin back-and-forth, causing the rice to settle and leave room for more.  She did this several times.  Now, the rice section of Vandeikya Market is a Thin Place for me.

Lately I have heard and read several commentaries noting that the news today is of “biblical proportions.”  It’s true, isn’t it?  Fires, droughts, locusts, earthquakes, plagues, unrest and injustice leading to war…  If the news of the world is of “biblical proportions,” then perhaps it can also be said that entire world has become a Thin Place.  If we stop, take a deep breath and become really present to the moment, we’ll also be able to feel the nearness of the Holy.  May this give us the impetus we need to grow in awareness, and to act.

Christine Gebel olm

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