Sunday, October 28, 2007

My Thin Places

Since we now have My Computer, My Documents, MySpace, My Yahoo, My Network Places, et cetera (ad infinitum, ad nauseam), I thought I should have a My Thin Places. Thin Places are places at which the spiritual world and this world are particularly close.

So here are two, one I have not visited in many years (but have been to many times), and one I just discovered (but plan to visit often).

1) Isle of Iona, Scotland. Don't be too put off by the experimental, ecumenical Iona Community (and they mean something different by "ecumenical" than I did when I named this blog "Ecumenicity"); this place is thin. It was on this isle that St. Columba landed to bring Christianity from Ireland to the Scots. Columba's Bay, where he landed, makes for a beautiful and meaningful pilgramage, but the thinnest place for me is the wee golf course on the western beach, by the ancient caves. Of course, don't miss the famous Iona Abbey.

2) Crypt Chapel of the Baltimore Basilica, Maryland. I just discovered this thin place last week, taking a productive lunch break from my studies. The entire Basilica was closed for some time while it underwent extensive renovation and refurbishment, including the creation of a crypt chapel (pictured). I overheard the tour guide explain that B.H. Latrobe (Jefferson's architect) originally intended for this crypt to be included, but it was not completed until the recent renovation (note: the tour guides, while interesting, make prayer in the crypt a little less thin). Not only is this Crypt a place to draw close to Jesus, but it happens to also be the only truly beautiful spot in Baltimore (that I have seen).

I suppose some of you that are of a Catholic persuasion could insist that the building didn't make it thin so much as a certain Presence? I'm not sure about that, but may the empirical studies continue! Please feel free to recommend your own favorite Thin Place.


Tertium Quid said...

G.K. Chesterton said of the room containing the dying Thomas Aquinas that "the inside was larger than the outside."

That's my definition of a "thin place."

Thos said...


Great line from Chesterton. I think if I become more sensitive to the existence of "thin places" (that is, keep them in mind more), I will realize that I encounter them more often than I might otherwise suppose. I think there are "thin times" as well - experiences that make the temporal realm seem closer to the spiritual realm. My experiences with death have often been like that. But then, as Chesterton seemed to appreciate, the places where those times occur take on their own special closeness to the spiritual realm.

Peace in Christ,

Anonymous said...

I believe thin places can also be discovered in art, music, poetry, and personal experiences.
Perhaps a thin place is more the time and space God speaks to one in the language he or she will listen to.
I enjoy your blog and wish you well.

Thos said...


I agree that art, music and the like can make for thin experiences (though not places in a strict sense) - or they can add to a place that is already thin. Thin experiences too. You know one when you experience it, I suppose. I can think of a few thin experiences I've had. Many bad, actually, but where I drew closer to the spiritual world nonetheless; where I remembered that I was little and not really in charge of anything in my life.

Thanks for the encouragement!

Peace in Christ,

Mindie said...

I love that you listed the crypt church in Baltimore. And I agree that places can be inherently thin - that is, the place has a quality, a charism of its own. We don't make it thin.

As a native Marylander, I love to hear about others' experiences of thin places here. I believe the whole state is blessed.

Thanks for the link to my article in your first paragraph. So many bloggers have simply taken my text with not credit, while you built your own definition and offered readers more of the same from like minded bloggers.

Blessings to you and yours this Christmas.

Mindie Burgoyne