Sunday, November 01, 2015
The Grace of Thin Places
This is All Saints Day, which along with All Hallows Eve and All Souls Days comprise a Christian festival which goes back many centuries. The Christian Celts appropriated it from the Druid Celts and while it was solely a focus for Roman Catholics, in more recent years Protestants have come on board. For the Druids this was Samhain, a "thin place" between heaven and earth. Jack O Lanterns were a way of warding off the bad spirits on the loose during All Hallows Eve. The multi-billion dollar scariness industry stems from this tradition, even though hardly anyone realized this today.
Yesterday, Halloween Day, we were in Ottawa for the opening of the Monet exhibit at the National Art Gallery. We did a lot of wandering through the galleries of this Canadian treasure and for some reason as we were making our way through an early Renaissance area I walked over to a Madonna and Child painting (not the one above) which was almost exactly 600 years old. I reached out my hand to this modest sized image, not to touch it, but to be more in tune with it. I never do this, bye the way, having great respect for artistic works. I felt a surge of energy through my body and a warmth which took me off guard.
I asked Ruth, my wife, to do the same, but she didn't experience anything. She did wonder aloud later if this was a "thin place" for me, both an encounter with the holy and the artist of a distant time of place. Perhaps it was. All I know is that what I experienced was powerful and real enough to invite Ruth to join in.
Have you ever had "thin place" experiences? I will be exploring this in my "The Grace of Thin Places" sermon this morning. Are there thin place locations for you?