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Thin Places

Posted on Mar 28, 2016 by in Faith, Family | 2 comments

IMG_9791 IMG_9792 IMG_9794 IMG_9796The bell was about to ring in 45 seconds as I hot-glued my sandal strap into place where it had disconnected from the ankle strap. It was an apt metaphor for how I felt going into the school day—glued together, holding on by a string, getting by.  We had received some bad news about a close family member, cancer, and the tears kept welling up even as students began trickling into the classroom, bleary-eyed from the early hour. With difficulty I pushed them aside and opened up The Great Gatsby, grateful to hide my own emotions in the escape of story.

The older I get, the more I realize that this thin, glued-together feeling is not what it seems. We think that the winners in life are the ones who stay strong and do everything with confidence. But the contrary is true instead—they are the ones who show up anyway, blinking back tears, to do what must be done.  Always feeling not-ready, not-enough, but showing up anyway, we are stronger than we know. 

This year, I had no elaborate plans for Easter, no dinner preparations,no week-long devotionals for the family, no mini-garden tomb to grow as I have done in past years. Easter came upon me quietly, at the end of a long week, finding me just as I am—weary, hungry, lonely.  

Jesus’ vigil in the garden touched me tenderly.  He felt alone and scared; he even scolded his tired friends.  He asked for the cup to pass, even though he immediately surrendered that desire to the will of the Father.  His divinity was thin like the rind of the bright orange cuties my kids love, and his ripe humanity showed through.  We share this humanity, Jesus and I, so I find assurance that when I am alone in my Gethsemane, God is faithful to me, too.  Our thin places are where we meet God, in the garden, in the classroom, in the tears that bleed forth from our soul. When we are weak, he is strong. 

Good Friday reminds me of the quote from Frederick Buechner, “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”   I turned on the tv this morning to see the headline “Christians targeted in Pakistan bombing,” and I cannot understand why terrible things must happen.   Yet the cross reassures me in some weird way that terrible things will happen–things I could not have predicted, could not have prevented, but the beauty to come will also be beyond imagining.

Resurrection.   It’s a thin hope, wispy like baby curls, but it’s the promise of everything that is to come.  Everything real and alive and vital and invisibly solid.

Thy kingdom come

Thy will be done

One earth as it is

in Heaven.







  1. Today, I want to begin some theological reflection on the idea of thin places. As usual, I will get into the theological issues by examining relevant biblical passages. My question, at this point, is “How does Scripture lead us to think about the idea of thin places?”

  2. God has truly blessed you with word pictures that draw us into our own feelings; yes, thin feelings. Bless you for your faithfulness.

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