Walking in Thin Places

What is a thin place? To discern the difference between an ordinary place and a thin place, one must use a spiritual perspective. In simple terms a ‘thin place’ is a place where the veil between this world and the Other world is thin, the Other world is more near.

This meaning assumes the perceiver senses the existence of a world beyond what we know through our five senses. Since the times of ancient civilization the fascination with the "Other world" has occupied human minds. To some it is heaven, the kingdom, paradise. To others it may be hell, an abyss, the unknown. Whatever you perceive the Other world to be, a thin place is a place where connection to that world seems effortless, and ephemeral signs of its existence are almost palpable.

Mahatma Ghandi in his Spiritual Message to the World in 1931, speaks of this.

There is an indefinable, mysterious power that pervades everything. I feel it, though I do not see it. It is this unseen power that makes itself felt and yet defies all proof, because it is so unlike all that I perceive through my senses. It transcends the senses.

Truth abides in thin places; naked, raw, hard to face truth. Yet the comfort, safety and strength to face that truth also abides there. Thin places captivate our imagination, yet diminish our existence. We become very small, yet we gain connection and become part of something larger than we can perceive.

The human spirit is awakened and will grow if the body and mind allow it. Simply put, a thin place is a place where one feels that indefinable mysterious power Ghandi refers to. Ghandi believed (and stated later in the same speech), that the mysterious power was God.

Thin places should not be confused with thin moments, those being times when that mysterious power is felt during a particular experience or synchronistic course of events such as the birth of a child, the return of a loved one, reconciliation with an enemy or spiritual awakening. A thin place is simply that – a PLACE where the veil is thin. The place itself calls you, draws you into itself, transports you into the presence of the world beyond this world. The thinness of place moves you into the presence of the mysterious power. There, all things you perceive through your senses are charged, electrified, illuminated with the presence of that power.

Describing the meaning of thin place is like describing love, fear, the feeling of holding your newborn child, the existence of God. All attempts are feeble and all talk is cheap. Understanding marries experience and full understanding is almost never achieved.

In truth, however, once you’ve been in a thin place and allowed your spirit to absorb that which transcends the senses, all need for definition ceases. Our spirits learn differently than our minds. All through our lives we walk through these places. Some people notice the thinness. Some do not. Yet the idea of "thin places" is not new. Memorials - made by humans - have been marking thin places for thousands of years. Ancient people, especially in Ireland and Britain were forever marking spaces as sacred and worth remembering, as if to say, "something special happened here."

You can look for thin places, but frequently they will find you. Most of the sites on this web site, though they are only a handful of the thin places I have visited and photographed, were recommended to me by others in casual conversation or a short note in a letter. Once you set your spirit on finding them - they will actually find you. There is an intrinsic, mystical spirit woven into the fabric of nature, landscape and sky that calls out to every human heart - if only the heart is willing to listen.

Thin Places are ports in the storm of life, where the pilgrims can move closer to the God they seek, where one leaves that which is familiar and journeys into the Divine Presence. They are stopping places where men and women are given pause to wonder about what lies beyond the mundane rituals, the grief, trials and boredom of our day-to-day life. They probe to the core of the human heart and open the pathway that leads to satisfying the familiar hungers and yearnings common to all people on earth, the hunger to be connected, to be a part of something greater, to be loved, to find peace.

May your spirit soar as you begin your journey into Thin Places.