Advent Reflections 2020 : Day 15

Dr Strange End Credits (Master of the Mystic by Michael Giacchino)

I’m drawn to places that beguile and inspire, sedate and stir, places where, for a few blissful moments I can breathe again. It turns out these destinations have a name: thin places. They are locales where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine, or the transcendent.

Many of these places for me are outdoors – a mountain top, a woodlands, the beach. Some people find sacred spaces such as Cathedrals to be thin places. The other spaces I find myself seemingly closer to heaven are galleries full of art and buildings with amazing architecture – there is something about God being closer through creativity. I’ve had this sort of experience in the Tate Modern in London, the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, The Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and the Jewish Museum in Berlin (which I visited before it had any artefacts in it, just the pure architectural space).

The concept of the thin place reminds me of Dr Strange with his ability to open doors to other places and realities, but I wonder if his experience is more disorienting than spirituality enlightening? Either way, Dr Strange is jolted out of his old ways of seeing the world, and therein lies the transformative magic of thin places.

A thin place is not necessarily a tranquil place, or a fun one, or even a beautiful one, though it may be all of those things too. Thin places relax us, yes, but they also transform us — or, more accurately, unmask us. In thin places, we become our more essential selves.

Getting to a thin place usually requires a bit of sweat. One does not typically hop a taxi to a thin place. Many thin places are wild, untamed, but cities can also be surprisingly thin. The divine supposedly transcends time and space, yet we seek it in very specific places and at very specific times. Advent is one of those times and maybe thin places offer glimpses not of heaven but of earth as it really is, unencumbered. Unmasked.

some material in this post is based on a NYTIMES article by ERIC WEINER, MARCH 9, 2012

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