Of late I been more aware of thin places. Places or moments when the veil between the present and eternity is less opaque and even feels almost translucent. When one can feel the rocks singing, or the air shift, or hear the heartbeat of the universe. Some of these are times when you know that you need to remove your shoes because you are standing on Holy Ground.
Last night, in the midst of family Christmas celebrations amid adults talking and children laughing, Pacabel’s Canon in D (the version from Home Alone) caught my attention. A thin place for me. The Canon, that low, steady 8 note progression that opens the music and stays steady and low throughout is the heartbeat of the universe. The lines that come into play as the piece progresses dance like all of creation. Some lower and slower, some lighter and brighter. I feel the creation of the land and the sea, earth and sky. The eternal is present in the here and now.
When I pass by Mother Mary at the entrance to the Blessed Trinity Shrine Retreat (hereafter referred to as Holy Trinity), the air shifts somehow and I know that this bit of east Alabama ground, so close to Fort Benning, is Holy Ground. I’ve known it since my first visit 50 years ago as an undergrad. I’ve felt it on every trip over since that time, even the times when I myself was in a place in life where I felt isolated and miserable and unloveable.
I’m not alone in recognizing Holy Trinity as holy ground. Very likely, it was the sight of the first mass celebrated by Spanish priests exploring the area with DeSoto. It is the place where Fr. Judge lived and worked in his tiny house. Home ground for a lay missionary ground, an order of sisters and one of priests. It seeps a Presence that attracts one to come, and listen.
I’m not much of a fan of Adoration. You know, where Catholics sit in the presence of a consecrated Host. But, I begin to understand a bit if it is a thin place. Not a place where we have God trapped in the Host, but a place and time where the veil between eternal Love and the present begins to disappear snd one can rest in that love.
There are places I would love to visit in this world to see if they are thin places. I’d like to visit Stonehenge to see if the rocks might sing to me. There are places in Ireland I’d like to experience. Would I sense history as I did at Santiago de Compostela at the end of the Camino? Would I know that God is near as I used to sitting in a pew at St. Mary’s? Would I experience the wonder of the gibbous moon looking down at me at 9 am on a clear winter morning?
I’m drawn to return to thin places I already know, and to seek others and stand quietly where the veil is almost drawn back.