Thin Places: Sanctuary

I love Halloween.

Seriously, when else do you get to be a rockstar-gypsy-cowgirl AND eat lots of candy? Ok, maybe i do that every day, but still. On Halloween, it’s FESTIVE. And there are decorations, and the candy-calories don’t count (as everybody knows). And this year, i had the joy of trick-or-treating with my kids, on the first year they were big enough to really get it. And there is nothing like watching them march up to the door with the big kids and take their place in the order of things.

All that was great, as ever. Normally, Halloween is also a celebration of my love for all things sci-fi/fantasy/macabre. While i’m not into the slasher films, I do love me some Stephen King; while i hate Twilight, I love all things Sookie Stackhouse–not to mention the original Brahm Stoker, in book or film translation. Usually, Halloween is a good night to re-watch The Omen, or re-read Dracula, or have a marathon of ‘The Stand’ with my husband.

But this year, I wasn’t in the mood. While i loved every minute of our neighborhood gathering and the en masse trick-or-treat brigade, I did not feel like going home to something dark and scary. Maybe it is because i had just tucked a sassy little cowgirl, and an adorable tiny cow, safe and warm into their beds. Maybe it’s because I was tired. But more likely, I think it’s because right now, the world feels scary enough without Pennywise (shudder), or Dracula, or Lord Voldemort.

Maybe it was the perfect ‘storm’ of Sandy; election week and all the toxic rhetoric that implies; the standard evening news in a major metro area; and the coyotes that sing a lonely song in my backyard, every night of the world. Whatever the reason, after i put my trick-or-treaters to bed last night, I hit the couch with my spouse and a glass of wine, and I watched Parenthood, daggone it. It wasn’t spooky, but I don’t need to be any more spooked right now. I need sanctuary.

Based on the feedback of my readers, I get the impression that this blog is a sanctuary for many. For those who are tired of the political drama, and the tension it is causing in their homes and workplaces; for those whose churches are not places of love and inclusion; for those who do not claim a religious path, but still seek the sacred; and for those whose vocation involves daily service to others, and need a place to be refilled, refueled, and encouraged by like-minded people.

In our Bible study today, we were talking about ‘thin places.’ In celtic tradition, these are places, experiences, people, words and actions that make us more open and receptive to the Spirit; those places where the distance between us and God seems so very, very small, and we know that we are in the presence of the Holy. In the midst of chaos, confusion, grief, change, uncertainty, and yes, even ugly campaign ads, we can seek a safe place in the presence of the living God.

I hope that this site can offer some of that respite. I also hope that you have many other places, people, and practices that make you feel fully human, and a little bit divine. Stephen King would call it “a thinny,” that place where the boundary between two worlds melts away, and you can easily fall from one realm to the next. I call it just the every day sacred, and I’m thankful for all y’all who seek it with me. Says Thomas Merton:

Life is this simple. We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent, and God is shining through it all the time. This is not just a fable or a nice story. It is true. If we abandon ourselves to God and forget ourselves, we see it sometimes, and we see it maybe fequently. God shows Himself everywhere, in everything–in people and in things and in nature and in events. It becomes very obvious that God is everywhere and in everything and we cannot be without Him. It’s impossible. The only thing is that we don’t see it.

About Erin Wathen

Rev. Erin Wathen is the Senior Pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Olathe, KS (www.sacchome.org). She's a Kentucky native, a long-time desert dweller, and she writes about the sacred thread that runs through pretty much everything. For more info, click the 'about' tab above...

  • http://www.readinclover.com Lisa

    Interesting as the pagan festival of Samhain or the Celtic New Year is October 31. This is the time the veil between dimensions is thought to be at it’s very thinnest.

    Last year I had a life altering mystical experience while trick or treating with Caroline…it was masked as an one liner gone wrong from an acquaintance that at first irritated me but later that night I realized the significance of it.

    I, too, have often enjoyed a viewing of The Omen after we’ve put our trick or treaters to bed….but like you, Erin, I had no desire to watch anything scary. Mike and I enjoyed looking at the photographs we had taken of the neighborhood kids and then we watched a dvr’d rerun of “My Name is Earl.” (I can see your eyebrows going up but I only recently found this show and have been amazed at the profound spiritual lessons I glean from the redneck humor.

    Happy Halloween, Erin. I saw a photo of the tiny cow and cowgirl….SO CUTE!

  • http://juliannasblog.wordpress.com jmnitz

    I can’t help but want to burst at the thin place you have created for me today! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and especially for sharing the Thomas Merton quote.

    ‘The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not’ –John 1:5 (KJV)


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