Thin Places

Alisa Lariushkina of Vilnius, Lithuania
medium: air-dry clay

It was the Celts who gave us the poetic phrase “a thin place” to describe moments in space and time when the distance between heaven and earth falls away, leaving behind a lingering awareness of the ineffable, the holy, the good. C.S. Lewis called this feeling Joy, an experience of piercing gladness and longing which led him, an atheist, to an eventual belief in God. He felt Joy for the first time in gazing at a moss garden his brother had made. In time, he concluded that if beauty stirred in him a longing for something beyond, then there must be Something, or Someone, beyond beauty for which we long.

Thin Places. The words evoke mystic mountains, Irish coastlines shrouded in mist, and ancient ruins. And yet, Jesus images a God who is radically accessible, particularly to people who are poor, marginalized, sick, or unable to afford the expensive spiritual pilgrimage to the Isle of Iona. Thin places are scattered everywhere in creation, and often in the least likely of places. Since humans are part of creation, thin places are found even in the spaces we create together—a friendship, a conversation, a hospital room.

On Sunday, we explored Thin Places: our storytellers wove tales of past thin spaces around the Christ Light; our foragers practiced seeingpresent thin places while creating moss gardens, and our builders and dreamers designed spaces in which we, Southpoint, would be a future thin place in our world.

Bryan Mealer’s soulful reflection on spiritual care as an act of social justice was published in the Guardian this week. A chaplain in training at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital, he references the huge increase in suicidal youth during the pandemic, and how many of them identified as LGBTQ+ from religious families who were disapproving. In the article, he described his experience of thin place while visiting a local church in Austin, Texas that was welcoming and affirming. 

For some queer youth, feeling known and safe in a supportive faith community is a matter of life and death. I want such thin places not just for queer youth. I want to to shape thin places with them; they have much to teach me. I want this space for us, because we all need spaces of warmth, welcome, safety, and vulnerability. 

Tomorrow, Wednesday at 7:30 pm, we will create a thin place of listening around our Statement of Inclusion. On Sunday, we will take a broad poll to gauge how ready we are for our Nov. 21 members’ vote on it. I hope to see you for our time of listening.

A line in the birth account of Jesus struck me this week: And the time came(for the baby to be born)”. It is my belief that the Spirit of God has been moving within us for many years, growing new life in us. Like a baby pushing to be born who will wait no longer, the time has come. For some of us this has been an interminable, inexcusable wait; for others, it may feel too soon. The time has come. Our moment of reckoning is upon us, and together we will decide who we will be in this world. 

Deep peace and blessings.


Rev. Anne Baxter Smith
Pastor of Church at Southpoint

Worship Calendar

Question for October: Where Have We Come From?

Sun. Oct 31, 10:00 am
service at Sunnyside!
Fifth Sunday organized brunches

Question for November: What Do You Need?
In-person at Sunnyside 15639 24 Ave with regard to provincial Covid-19 policies

Sun. Nov 7, 10:00 am
Sitting Shiva
Speaker: Anne Smith Job 2:1-13

Sun. Nov 14, 10:00 am
Asking for Help
Speaker: Anne Smith 2 Tim 4:9-13

Sun. Nov 21, 10:00 am
Offering Care
Speaker: Anne Smith

Sun. Nov 28, 10:00 am
All In service, First Sunday of Advent
Speaker: Anne Smith

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