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Thin Places

Then I saw new heavens and a new earth. The former heavens and the former earth had passed away, and the sea existed no longer. I also saw a new Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down out of heaven from God, beautiful as a bride and groom on their wedding day. And I heard a loud voice calling from the throne, “Look! God’s Tabernacle is among humankind! God will live with them; they will be God’s people, and God will be fully present among them. The Most High will wipe away every tear from their eyes. And death, mourning, crying and pain will be no more, for the old order has fallen.~ Revelation 21:1-4(The Inclusive Bible)

Glass allows us to see what is on the other side. Sometimes, though, it provides a reflection of what is on the side you are on. Watching a child learn about glass and mirrors can be amusing and typically not dangerous. Unfortunately for birds, they typically only get one chance to learn and the results are too often fatal. Every migration season, volunteers retrieve hundreds of birds who strike windows in our large cities. This work is not for everyone, since it requires a degree of emotional detachment. If you feel a sadness compounded by every encounter, it can quickly become too much to bear.

None of us can escape this life without experience significant loss. We all will mourn the loss of someone close to us at some point. That is why rituals have emerged around death and memorials. The Celtic peoples speak of thin places where the threshold between this world and whatever lies beyond can be crossed. This is where Halloween originates. The Christian church responded with All Saints Day the following day. Whether intentional or inadvertent, this affirms the truth that we are not separated from heaven (or hell?) by much. Just like a thin pane of glass, we might see through to another world or see a reflection of this one. Perhaps that is as it should be. The promise in scripture is that a new heavens and a new earth are on order, we are simply waiting for delivery. Until that time, we see as through a glass dimly as Saint Paul would say.

From time to time, people we love will pass through that thin place. Perhaps we are like the birds not understanding the nature of it. We experience the pain of losing the one we love, while they have seen a new heaven and a new earth. They may have struck the glass, but they are now flying in that space that is beyond it. We feel the sadness and feel as though we may not be able to bear it. But notice the promise that the one who can and will wipe our tears is not beyond the threshold, but is living right here with us, on this side of the thin places.

Prayer: Great Spirit, comfort us and fill us with that gift of a thing with wings, hope. Amen.


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