Saturday, October 10, 2009

Through thick and thin

You hear a lot about "thin places" these days, especially in the context of "Celtic spirituality." Thin places are geographical locales where the veil between this world and the otherworld is -- well, thin. Porous, permeable. Places where you are more likely to encounter the Divine. Mostly our lives are circumscribed by the adamant materiality of the natural world. We are enclosed in a prison of "is-ness." But in thin places we need only open our hearts and the wall of Is-ness crumbles and the supernatural is revealed in all of its gauzy grandeur.

Or so say the seekers of thinness.

I've had my own encounters with "Celtic spirituality," and found much to admire -- as readers of Climbing Brandon will know. But I didn't climb Mount Brandon -- one of Ireland's "holy mountains" -- those many dozens of times seeking a thin place. Rather, I was looking for a thick place. A place where the is-ness of the world is rich and deep. A place where one can scratch and dig and uncover more and more layers of is-ness. I wasn't looking for the supernatural; I was looking for more of the here and now.

It has been my general impression that those folks who claim to see beyond the veil to some more transcendent reality are only finding what was already in their heads -- not through a glass darkly, but in a mirror brightly. The Divine they encounter beyond the veil always seems to bear a striking resemblance to themselves.

My own experience is that the more I pull aside the veils, the more I discover of the possibly infinite thickness of things. Maybe I lack the spiritual sensitivity of the thin-place seekers, but -- I keep scratching, digging deeper, uncovering wonders in every strata. Natural wonders. Is-ness wonders. An inexhaustible munificence.

I also believe this: One need not go gallivanting across the planet seeking thick places. Every place is as thick as we make it. One need only pay attention.