I first remember hearing the concept of thin places a few years back. It is often described as a sort of intersection between heaven and earth when one can feel almost jolted out of their usual ways of seeing the world. I have experienced numerous thin places in my time, always unexpected, and always permeable.
I am a Christian yet I do not always feel that these thin places have to be solely for Christians to experience. As a firm believer that everyone experiences Christianity differently, I do not want to focus on the religious aspect of these thin places as much as the feeling and wander that they evoke.
Maybe the whole world is thin, since God’s omnipresence would lend support to this notion. Are we too blind to see how thin the world really is? Are we too caught up in the daily grind to notice the intricate and vast beauty that God reveals to us? I do not know these answers, but I find great joy when I experience a new thin place.
The most common experience I have with thin places is with, of course, music. A thin place does not mean that I am having some “spiritual breakthrough”. It is an experience of confusion actually. It’s like gaining a new set of eyes for a minute. I can be listening to a song and feel like I am almost leaving the world. My mind is almost floating between reality and something much better. If you have never experienced this, you might think that I am off my rocker. But, if you have, then I am sure you can relate. The conversation between instruments in classical music can often make me feel as though I am in a thin space.
Another way that I experience these thin places is through travel. I have been fortunate enough to visit 14+ countries and I can say, without hesitation, that these thin places are the best part of traveling. Thin places aren’t necessarily beautiful places. They can be anything–rural or urban, crowded or abandoned. Moments that are beyond the power of language to explain are thin. Moments that are so unexpectedly saturated with meaning, even non-religiously, are thin in nature. Explanations for these moments almost get in the way.
When I visited Budapest, I felt a thin place when I stood on a hill and looked at all of the lights below me. I felt overwhelmed beyond words. This place happened to be beautiful but without necessity. The Cliffs of Moher, probably the thinnest place I have ever been. I actually feel chills in my body when I think about my experience there. Standing on the most massive of cliffs, in the most beautiful of places with the sea’s waves were rushing far below me.
I have experienced far less glamorous thin places than these. Everywhere from airports to grocery stores, I have experienced this inexplainable feeling. Whether you are religious or non-religious, I urge you to have an open mind about such experiences. If you ever feel yourself being almost transcended into a different place in your mind, don’t fight it. The power of God, or the power of _____ (fill in the blank with what you believe), is absolutely incredible.