In a recent sermon I talked about the peace the Holy Spirit brings. It’s a “peace which passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7); a peace which this world can neither give nor take away (see John 14:27). I mentioned that I have seen this peace many times in those who are approaching death.
Then after the sermon was preached, I stumbled upon something that I would have used if I had it earlier. Brian Bauknight is a retired United Methodist pastor in Pennsylvania. He has a blog that is always quite good and he was discussing the subject of “thin places”.
In Celtic theology (I pronounce it incorrectly on purpose, “sell-tick”, in deference to Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, and Larry Bird), a “thin place” is a place where the boundary between heaven and earth is thin. Maybe it’s not so much a place as a moment. A moment when we feel especially close to God.
I quote Brian Bauknight:
One example of a thin place: when a person is nearing the end of this earthly journey and seems to have a deep peace about that end. They almost seem to be withdrawing from their earthly surroundings and loved ones because they are in touch with the “thin place” between life and Life after life. Often misunderstood as some form of rejection by those being left behind, these moments can be a natural and positive part of life’s closing days.
But one does not need to wait until the last hours of life to have this awareness. It can happen in a moment of meditation or contemplation. It can happen when we spend only a few seconds in the quiet awareness of God. And it can happen unexpectedly. I cannot explain it. I can only point to it as a reality in life that makes God more real and more loving than anything we know. And I suspect we need to talk about it more.
Yes we do. Talk about it more, and experience it more.