Tag Archives: thin place


 A thin place story

When the universe sends you exactly what you need, why would you say no?

A friend shared this story after the loss of her mother.

The death was sudden and shocking. In an instant a massive heart attack took the life of her vibrant, active mother leaving a gaping hole in the world of an only child. Shaken, she fumbled her way through the funeral arrangements and the ceremonies. In the months that followed she worked to regain her equilibrium and to figure out how to move on from the grief and the loss.

One morning, she stood staring out of her upstairs bedroom window, watching the neighbour mow his lawn and the teen from down the street walk his dog.

Then she got that feeling. Continue reading


A thin place story

When the universe sends you exactly what you need, why would you say no?

Even scientists experience thin places.

Alan Lightman is a research scientist in astronomy and physics, with a Ph.D. in theoretical physics. In his book A Sense of the Mysterious: Science and the Human Spirit, he describes a time when he grappled with mathematical calculations trying to show whether an experimental result required that gravity be geometrical.

It’s the kind of thing that would send most people screaming from a room, but that he found thrilling.

He studied and worked and wrote down equations. He made progress, but then he got irrevocably stuck.  For months (months!) he checked equations, paced the floor, double-checked equations, and paced some more.

Then he got that feeling. Continue reading

Rising every time we fall

A thin place story

When the universe sends you exactly what you need, why would you say no?

A teenaged girl loved to sing. To develop her voice she began to take voice lessons. Her teacher encouraged her to participate in the Kiwanis Music Festival to help her become more comfortable with on-stage performances.  The girl and her teacher practiced and prepared for the vocal competition in the Show Music category.

What they didn’t know was that experienced participants in this category do more than sing. They come prepared with costumes and props for a fully choreographed performance.

The day of the competition, this girl arrived early. It was a warm summer day, so she and her parents decided to wait outside rather than in a stuffy auditorium. As they basked in the sun, other performers began to arrive. One walked in carrying a garment bag and props for her performance. “Costumes?” the girl said to her mother. “I didn’t know I needed costumes.” Another competitor arrived and hauled a giant stuffed dog out of her car. “Props? I didn’t know I needed props.” She had come with nothing but herself and her voice. She felt intimidated and she hadn’t even entered the building yet. Continue reading

Served by Grace

A thin place story

When the universe sends you exactly what you need, why would you say no?

Last summer my friend, Etienne, had a pretty rough week. He was at a turning point in his life, with lots of uncertainties ahead. Stresses from work challenged his usual ability to stay calm and to see joy in any situation.

He decided that some time on the patio at Dow’s Lake would be the perfect way to relax and look for inspiration. During his quiet meal he looked out over the lake, watching canoes ripple through the water and people strolling along the Rideau Canal. He enjoyed the peaceful scene, but unsettled uncertainties still rankled.

Then he got that feeling. The special energy of the moment told him to open his eyes and pay attention. 

He said, “I looked at my bill, and I laughed! Take a look!” 



When the universe sends you grace, why would you say no?

Thin places

As anyone who’s tried to be a poet knows, when you’ve had a spiritual experience, the words don’t render it. All they can do is give a clue. The experience goes beyond anything that can be said. —Joseph Campbell

Almost everyone I know has at least one thin place story. Or should I say, almost everyone I know has a thin place story that they’re willing to share with me. The others, I suspect, have had experiences they cannot explain, but they are afraid of them. They don’t want people to think they are crazy, stupid, or naïve. They dismiss them as coincidences or tricks of the brain.

And it is pretty easy to dismiss thin places as tricks of the brain. Been there, done that. They make no rational or scientific sense, they are not measurable, and they dissipate into nothingness when the moment is past.

Yet,  those who have experienced thin place moments—when time seems to stand still, the air crackles with a quality not present at other times, or the hair on your arms stand up—say they felt an extreme clarity that seemed more real than reality.

Thin places don’t have to be geographical places

Although they can be. You don’t have to be in deep meditation or in an Ashram to experience a thin place. They have nothing to do with religion or dogma or beliefs. They happen in grocery check-out lines, restaurants, or at the kitchen sink. Music is a common thin place.

Sometimes these moments come as reminders of our connectedness with all things. Other times they come with a message that sets a person on a purposeful path, or redirects them from a futile path. Often they are times of comfort.

You can’t summon a thin place. If you try to reach a thin place, it remains elusively out of reach, like trying to grab unto a cloud. Thin places come unbidden. They require the tricky combination of a mind that is open to them, but not reaching for them.

Thin place stories

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some stories of thin places. Some have been told to me by friends, others I read in books. I hope that when you read them they will trigger memories of experiences in your own life, so that you can look back on those moments and rethink them, for it seems that thin places come to us with exactly what we need at the time that we need it.

If you experience a thin place—when you stop in your tracks, feel that frisson of energy, and the hair on your arms stands up—receive it and honour it, or at the very least give it some thought. Allow yourself, even for a moment, to believe that you are not crazy, stupid, or naïve.

Because, when the universe sends you exactly what you need, why would you say no?