Thin Places

Skellig Michael
Advent is such a time of hope. Repeatedly the God of Peace promises to be with us, to help us, to sustain us. For some reason, the Advent visions of hope which keep coming to us in the daily readings seem to be more real this year. In our tumultuous world as people involved in the work of peace and justice, we certainly need grounding. We need the assurance of the God of Peace that she will be with us. I will help you. I will quench the thirst of those who are parched. I am with you always. Come, you are burdened ands rest in me.
I find another source of hope in my reading and prayer. I just go back to my Celtic ancestors. The Celts were aware of their intimate relationship with God and their closeness to nature. William John Fitzgerald has written A Contemporary Celtic Prayer Book which I highly recommend. It contains a modified liturgy of the hours for each day as well as other prayers taken from Celtic sources. It really helps me reconnect with God and God’s creation.
Fitzgerald introduced me to the idea of “thin places”—places where the human and divine meet. Mindie Burgoyne ( describes thin places:
“What is a thin place? To discern the difference between an ordinary place and a thin place, one must use a spiritual perspective. In simple terms a ‘thin place’ is a place where the veil between this world and the Other world is thin, the Other world is more near. This meaning assumes the perceiver senses the existence of a world beyond what we know through our five senses. Since the times of ancient civilization the fascination with the “Other world” has occupied human minds. To some it is heaven, the kingdom, paradise. To others it may be hell, an abyss, the unknown. Whatever you perceive the Other world to be, a thin place is a place where connection to that world seems effortless, and ephemeral signs of its existence are almost palpable.”
The ruins of Skellig Michael, the ancient Celtic Christian monastery off the coast of County Kerry, is one of many thin places. Be sure to click on the link at the beginning to view the beehive huts which are still standing. As I climbed Skellig Michael and walked around the ruins, I sensed that I was in a thin place.
We cannot sense the God of Peace; however, we know that God exists and is with us. God sustains us. God is with us. I find The Breastplate of Patrick expresses our intimacy with the God of Peace in profound ways. We are grounded in the God of Peace, the God of Love.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.
The entire prayer can be found at
Isaiah and Patrick assure us that we are grounded in the love of the God of Peace. Paul reminds us that nothing can separate us from this love of God. We find the God of Peace in the thin place. It may be a monastery, a prayer room in our house, a spot in the cathedral of nature. It may be in joy. It may be in grief. The point is that our God is intimately present to us. Let us rest in the God of Peace. Then, all will be well!

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