Thin Places

>The Celtic people have an old tradition about what they call the “thin places”. No, I’m not talking about a fitness club or a fad diet. Thin places are holy locations where the wall between the world of the everyday and the supernatural is thin. According to this belief, it is in these thin places that people are more likely to encounter God. I don’t know if thin places really exist, but I do know that when I am alone in nature, the reality of angels and heaven and a God who intervenes in my life seems much more immediate than when I’m surrounded by concrete and plastic and fluorescent lights.

My friend Will has taken the idea of thin places to a totally different level. He also believes that there are actually thin people (no, I’m not talking about the Biggest Loser here), people whose very presence makes it easier to encounter God when you’re around them. Now this, I believe.

I know a seventeen year old girl named Erin who suffers from a rare form of rheumatoid arthritis, a cruelly debilitating illness when it strikes the young. She faces the choice of being crippled for life or enduring chemotherapy treatments. Instead of sulking in her room feeling sorry for herself, Erin volunteers three hours a week leading worship and dance for the elementary students at my church. She spent her spring break serving the poor in Jamaica. She even mentors one of our third grade girls who is suffering from an oddly similar condition, and she does it all with a joy and humility that make God’s existence undeniable when I’m around her. Definitely a “thin” person.

We’ve all met those kind of people, haven’t we? People who possess a remarkably sweet spirit despite unjust suffering and unbearable tragedy. Their winsome demeanor embarrasses me when I think about what a baby I can be when life doesn’t go my way. It convicts me to get over myself. We could all probably use a good dose of that.

So, keep your eyes peeled for some thin people this week, people who just by being themselves help you encounter the grace and strength of God. Who knows? By spending time with folks like this we may become a little thinner ourselves.

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