Thin Places

“The Celtic church had a word for these moments of transformation. They called them thin places. “A thin place is anywhere our hearts are opened. They are places where the boundary between the two levels becomes very soft, porous, permeable. Thin places are places where the veil momentarily lifts and we behold (the ‘ahaah of The Divine’) all around us and in us.” Marcus Borg

There exists a place, a place so thin we are barely aware of it’s existence but it exists within our minds. A place of consciousness, a place of knowing, a place of reality, a place of truth. Yet many of us choose to block out this place as we move through our daily lives.

Many of us are aware that we are unhappy, but we continue to walk the same line everyday quite often choosing to drown our sorrows rather than face our consciousness. We let the awareness slide or choose to blur our vision as if we are walking through a forest on a foggy day adjusting our eyes to see the faint lines of the trees and the branches that grow in so many directions, much like our hearts during difficult times.

At times we may feel trapped in this unhappiness but the reality is like the trees in the forest as we can move through the branches. Our feet are our roots, are bodies are our trunks and our souls are our branches; always reaching outwardly and embracing our soul’s divine purpose. To reach that thin place we must reach to each branch and explore the depths and heights that each branch has to offer. We have to move through the branches that cause us to fall and the branches that assure us sturdiness. The branch that causes us to fall has as much to teach us as the branch that assures us sturdiness. There is no way to reach that thin place, where the boundaries between the two places become one, without exploring the branches that let us fall. And when we fall, the only thing we can do is dust off the leaves and dirt that we picked up from the ground and start the climb all over again.

My parents divorced when I was very young. My mother was devastated and this devastation turned into bitterness, anger and hatred. Our home was filled with her unhappiness and at times it seemed wrong to be happy. She was blinded by hatred, jealousy, envious, longing and loneliness. Her unhappiness was understandable as it was a difficult time, but she continued to move through her life as if in a fog for a long time after the divorce. She absorbed much resentment and hate for my father and she wanted me to believe that not only did he abandon her but he abandoned our family. She encouraged hate and outrage toward him and it was difficult to live with these emotions on a daily basis as the dark cloud was heavy and hanging above us in everything we did.

When the courts finally awarded my father visiting rights, he was only allowed a weekly visitation which fell on a Saturday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. There was no staying a little later, there was no visits during the week, there was no “hey I’m in the neighbourhood do you want to go for a quick bite.” All normalcy was gone, both my younger brother and I were strictly scheduled with no exceptions to the rules. It was during this short time we were expected to heal, bond and find a relationship with our father. At the end of every Saturday, my father would ensure we were all ready to go and drive my brother and I home by 8:00 pm sharp. I dreaded the drive home because I knew that once we reached our destination, I would be grilled with 20/20 questions about the day. One wrong answer could lead to more devastation for my mother so I avoided the situation at all cost. I used the excuse that I was tired and go to my room, close the door and put a record on the record player and listen to my favourite music.

One Saturday, it had been a rough week and I was upset while at my father’s house. My father wasn’t one to pry but he found me in tears and wanted to know what was wrong. At the age of nine years old, it’s hard to express exactly what you feel in your heart. I had secretly absorbed so many negative emotions that I wasn’t completely aware of and when I answered my father’s question I blurted out; “did I do something wrong and that’s why you left?” I had taken all the difficult emotions between my parents and absorbed the hatred and resentment into blaming myself and believing that I must have done something to cause him to leave.

The statement was a blow to my father and I could see the tension in his face. He took a step back, suddenly his jaw softened and his eyes welled up with tears as he bent down to my level and ran the back of his hand, with much tenderness, across my cheek. In a very calm voice he then said, “No honey, this has nothing to do with you or your brothers or sister. It is between your mother and I, but that doesn’t mean I will ever stop being your father nor will I ever stop loving you. You are my daughter and I am proud of you and always will be. Do you believe me when I say that I love you?”

At that moment looking into his eyes, I could feel the love that he had for me as his daughter and the veil momentarily lifted letting me feel his love to the depth of my soul. I said “yes, I believe you dad” and he said “good, let’s get some lunch .” We never discussed the divorce again after that, we chose to spend our time together catching up with each other or engaging in conversations about subjects we both found interesting. Throughout our relationship, he never once bad mouthed my mother to me and if I did utter a complaint about my mother, he told me to be good to my mother and reminded me that she had been through a lot.

Yesterday, I read an article about children of divorce and how some couples choose to train their children to hate and despise their spouse rather than teach healthy boundaries and emotions. The article explained that parents who choose to unleash their hatred and anger toward their spouse onto their children, are giving their children a life of unhappiness, poor self-esteem, low academic standings and trouble with addiction. The energy of anger, hatred and unhappiness can cling to a child for a lifetime and parents who pass this energy to their children only create a legacy of self-doubt and unhappiness for many years to come. Many don’t find the thin place or the sturdy branch as they continue to move through the branches that causes them to fall. Once they fall, they are unable to dust off the leaves and the dirt from the ground, nor are they able to continue the climb to the branch that assures them sturdiness.

When the veil is lifted and you find yourself in a place where only love and faith in one another exists, it is the start of the climb to that sturdy branch, to a place of love, a place of truth, a place of contentment, a place of acceptance, a place of forgiveness and a place of knowing, truly knowing your heart; it is a transformation into that place the Celtic church calls a thin place…

Johanne Fraser

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Just taking one step at a time and writing about the simple pleasures that make me smile.

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