I’ve been reading recently about “thin places”. Places where people feel they are close to spirit, where the barrier between substance and spirit feels “thin”. Where you feel closer to the sacred. These places can be anywhere – some people find them in conventional religious buildings, some in other places where people gather, some find it in nature – its an individual thing. We each respond differently to the world around us.
I’ve begun thinking that its not just a place that might be thin, but an experience that might bring about a “thinning”.
I was participating in a powhiri yesterday. The formal welcome of one group of people into another’s space. So yes there was place involved, but it was the experience that affected me. The singing – loud, repetitive. I felt chilled and shaky. Afterwards I went outside, feeling a little spooked, needing to be on my own. There was a marble carving – triple spiral – I ran my hand over the curves – cold and smooth. I felt quiet and distant and sad – remembering someone lost to me – aware their birthday would have been the next day.
A friend came over to check I was okay – was it that obvious? She told me she feels a similar need to touch things. She’s Welsh – is this a Celtic thing? Only three feet between earth and heaven – and days like today I feel I could pull aside the veil and step through.
I rejoined the group, walking through the new building, making polite chit chat – but soon went outside again. Someone else came to check on me. I told them I feel like this sometimes – “I’m feeling a little spooked” (perhaps today is the first day I’ve told people) – I said the air felt thin, that I felt unbalanced – he knew immediately what I meant – “You’re in tune with your spiritual side – that’s what events like this are supposed to do”. Good to have it acknowledged, accepted without any need for explanation.
But back to thin places – this was more about feeling the barrier between worlds weaken as a result of an event – not so much about the place itself – more about the time and the ritual – bringing about a temporary “thinning”.
I wonder what else makes this happen … ?