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Marcus Borg, in his book, The Heart of Christianity, relates an incident in which he struck up a conversation with a woman seated next to him on a recent plane trip. When she discovered his occupation (religion professor), she admitted, “I’m much more interested in Buddhism and Sufism than Christianity, because they are about a way of life, and Christianity is about believing certain things. I think beliefs matter less than having a spiritual path or following a way.”
Borg goes on to write that Christianity, like other major religions, is primarily about following “a way.” In fact, the first name given to the early Christian movement was The Way. Most Christians would agree that their religious faith or spirituality is not just a set of beliefs, list of rules, or set of traditions. It may include these things, of course; but most importantly, it is a way of living one’s life every day that follows Jesus Christ and his teachings.
We are all at various points along the Way. To a certain extent, we all have different paths, and no one can walk precisely the same path as another. On the other hand, I think there are times when our paths are meant to meet or converge, and we thereby sustain, comfort, encourage, and challenge one another.
There is a term I learned also from Borg that comes from Celtic spirituality: Thin Places. It presumes that there are at least two layers of reality, the visible world of our “ordinary” experience, and a sacred or spiritual world where God is active. Thin Places are those spaces where these two levels of reality come together -- where the boundary between the sacred and the profane are transparent or permeable. We encounter thin places in many ways: in prayer or meditation, taking a walk in the woods, an intimate moment with a loved one, in reading Scripture, in worship, or in caring for others, etc. Thin places can include those mountain-top experiences that happen just a few times in a lifetime. Or they can happen in those situations as routine as holding a patient’s emeses basin or receiving someone’s thanks or blessing. And everything in between.
For deeply spiritual persons, I would imagine that these thin places converge in ever increasing ways, so that virtually all moments have at least the potential of being thin places. I’m not one for new year’s resolutions, but if I were, one of the things I would resolve to do this year, is practice becoming more aware of those thin places in my everyday life where God is active and illuminating. I would encourage y’all to do the same.
Be well and do good,