Reality Check

I am convinced of one thing…

There is a realm called the kingdom of God, a present reality just beyond what we experience as reality.  Not just an imagination, but a reality more real than the touch-see-feel world we live in.

I long for the permanent, manifest reality of this kingdom.

There is a Celtic saying,

“Heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in the thin places that distance is even smaller.”

“We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent, and God is shining through all the time. This is not just a fable or a nice story.
It is true…The only thing is that we don’t see it.”

~Thomas Merton

“Thin places,” the Celts call this space,
Both seen and unseen,
Where the door between the world
And the next is cracked open for a moment
And the light is not all on the other side.
God shaped space.
Holy.

~Sharlande Sledge

This kingdom is breaking through in bits and pieces, in glimpses and moments of revelation and understanding. Those with hearts to understand recognize and participate in those kingdom moments.

“Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.”

We ourselves are “thin places” – points of intersection where Divine life touches earth – vessels for creating kingdom moments in our world.

I just needed to remind myself of this today.

(Photographic art by jonnybaker)

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13 thoughts on “Reality Check

  1. Great post, Grace!

    Yes, we are indeed the thin spaces … for within us is the Holy Spirit dwelling right along with our soul, spirit and flesh. At times we see the light spill out into our reality. That is what I call living in Kairos time … seeing that light more often in each moment.

  2. Beautiful imagery and prose, Grace. Like you, I needed the reminder. Just talking about those “thin places” seems to produce faith in me.

    My wife, myself, and a group of friends are going to a charismatic meeting tonight (a la Mike Bickle’s group) and, oddly, I’m not that nervous or intimidated. None of us are ‘running in those circles’ so to speak, but I think we’re curious to experience the ‘thin places’–where God’s Kingdom of the Heavens reaches out–even when we’re not sure what to think. Regardless of what happens, it’s likely to be (dare I say) fun, as well as good conversation for the coming weeks.

  3. I have long been intrigued by the idea of thin places. I am just now waking up to the reality that if there are thin places, there are also thick ones – and usually these places are there because of our own inability to look for the thin ones.

  4. Living in Northern Ireland we have ‘thin’ places at many of our old monastic sites.When one walks around them,looking at the beautiful settings and seeing how small many of these little monastic communities were, one is deeply touched by the stillness and simplicity of the place.And yet these are also the places where Viking raiders violently attacked the communities, killing many of theeir members.Perhaps this is a parable of sorts regarding the thin places within our own lives where we know God but also attract violence from those who cannot see.Anthony De Mello, the Jesuit Mystic said that most of us walk through life asleep as to what is around us.We don’t have to strive to find reality but just observe and wake up.Many go to their graves without this awakening.Unfortunately many of us as believers stay asleep , fooling ourselves that by our intense actions we are bringing the Kingdom to earth when it’s beauty is already shining through in so many beautiful ways.Let’s find our thin places where we can just be!

  5. N. T. Wright writes that heaven and earth are juxtaposed against one another and there is only a thin veil between the two. Likewise, he says that the Kingdom is breaking through. It is breaking through in our lives since we are now God’s temple on earth, just as the Old Testament temple in Jerusalem was the dwelling place of God. So, the lives of those, individually and collectively, who follow Jesus show the world what the rule and reign of Jesus is, and ultimately will be at his appearing and the renewal of all creation. When thought of in this way it reminds me how important it is for my life to be transformed by the Holy Spirit as I wish my life to be under his rule and reign and for it to draw people to that Kingdom.

    Wonderful post. Thanks!

  6. Thanks mark, peggy, mimou, and bruce for adding your thoughts. It might sound funny for me to say this, but I love this post. I love looking at the pictures and thinking these thoughts.

    jason,
    How did your meeting go?

    I had to smile a bit at fat pastor talking about thick places. ;)

    charlie,
    Interesting thought about the thin places in our lives being areas of weakness and vulnerability.

    traveller,
    I believe that NT Wright also emphasizes the current reality of new creation and resurrected life that is already ours. I still need to read Surprised by Hope.

  7. thank you so much for this Blog Grace…
    it expresses things I have wanted to for a while…

    the writing including the phrase ‘thin places’ was something I read a while ago and have been searching for in the last year or so, but couldn’t remember much about it…

    the more charismatic evangelicals use terms like ‘portals’ [such as where Jacob wrestled with the angel etc] and that is ok with me [although controversial with some]

    I wish I could find the poem[?] which speaks about the place between heaven and earth being ‘thin,’ or something, at Christmas time..or a Door ajar or something similar.

  8. Thanks for the link Mark. This is a good thing to think about again today.

    Nice to meet you Sue. Any friend of Mark is very welcome here too.

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