I've taken a plane, a train, two ferries and an hour bus ride on a one-lane road to get to the thin place known as Iona. It was Geroge MacLeod, one of the original members of this community, who applied this phrase to the tiny island in Western Scotland, believing that only a tissue separates heaven from earth in this spot of God's creation.
And certainly it is beautiful.
My eyes have beheld cattle and sheep, ocean and mountain, greenery and flowers. It's a gorgeous place filled with beautiful people. I've taken time to praise God here. But I'm not sure I feel any closer to God in this place than I do other places. In fact, I've been reflecting upon the other thin places in my life, and I've concluded that thin places can be found whenever we make room for God.
Certainly we make from for God when we journey long distances with the expectation of seeing God. But I also know God is near us - all the time. We just have to let go of all the stuff that makes the tissue thicker than it needs to be - the desire to please others more than our desire to please God, our stuff we accumulate, our need for success, the noises that come from television, radio or city sirens, our constant rushing instead of just being - alone, with God.
There are two women who are members of our church who I now visit since they cannot get to church. They greet me at the door before welcoming to their table where tea, sparkling water and dessert are shared. We talk and then pray together before I leave. They then follow me with their eyes down the hallway, waving and smiling until the elevator comes. Each visit to them is a thin place, a space where I know God dwells, a spot where I can hear God calling my name.
There are mornings when I rise early and position myself squarely on the couch before doing anything further. I open myself to God's movement during the day, ask for forgiveness and know God is with me. It's in my living area, on a piece of furniture I'd love to get rid of, but it is a thin place because I know God is present.
There are times when I am leading worship and I realize it is God who is speaking and not me. That is a thin place.
There are mements when I'm invited to pray with someone, allowed to peer inside dreams that are not realized or hopes that are not yet materialized. That's a thin place.
What I'm learning this week is that it's a incredible gift to be able to travel to a far-off place to encounter God. But God is not in this place more than God is in Washington, D.C. God is Emmanuel, God with us. God is everywhere. Our task is to reduce the layers we have accumulated between us and God until we see that God is both all we have and all we really need.