Historical setting: 6th Century Gaul
The monk we have found in his cave near death whispers to us of “thin places.” What does this mean? Explanations of thin places are only spoken through whispers as poetry.
One preaches of the thin places she noticed in a story of Elijah. She said, “Sometime you might hear the mystics talk about the thin places. Thin places are where the boundary between the spiritual realm and the physical realm is so thin it practically disintegrates. Thin places … [are] the marshy edge that runs along the shoreline between the beach and the sea. … In the thin places, earth spills into heaven, and heaven spills into earth. In our own lives, the thin places make us tremble with their beauty. But watch out! These are the very regions that harbor the precariousness between, between life and death, so there’s nothing safe about them. It’s no wonder they make us tremble!” [footnote]
Nic lays this withered ancient man over his outstretched arms like a precious child found sleeping in a place where people are to busy for quiet, and he brings him down the hillside to a soft fleece laid into the narrow space left in the oxcart right against the stone mother and her child. Nic looks across the cart, passed the monk and the stone mother and her child toward the stone carver and he asks August if he has ever known of thin places.
“That’s what I was seeking when I left the cities with all their constructions of churches made of thick stones of earth. I left my family and people to find the edge between earth and spirit. It was something I thought was always somewhere I wasn’t. So I went away into the clay cave seeking solitude.” August asks for his own answer. “Is a cave what you would think was this thin place the old monk mentioned?”
Nic is thoughtful in his answer too. “So it is something you would look for somewhere else from where you are?”
“Yes, I would say when I was looking for it, yes. It always wasn’t where I was. Until, it was all there was. So I made tools of iron and the hardest rock and went back to my craft of chipping away at earth stone until it was spirit, too. As an artist, a sculptor, I don’t know if the art is holding on to the tangible, or letting go of the rock that hides the Spirit.”
The old monk spoke again. “It is the wonder between.”
[footnote] The preacher? Rev. Mariah Marlin-Warfield from a sermon delivered to the “Church of Peace U.C.C.” on November 1, 2020. This blogger is celebrating the beautiful, trembling, thin place of that preacher’s birth on this date in 1980. Thank you, Dear God, for all this time I have to see Mariah grow from infant to woman.