Thin Places

I’d live in a hot hell of outrage if I believed what we see is all there is. If I believed appearances and suffering don’t matter, I’d live in a cold kind of hell. (Been there, done both of those.) Now I believe in thin places, points on the earth, and especially within the psyche, where the veil between the seen and unseen loses its ordinary opaque quality. Here the visible world becomes translucent, even transparent, and stones are doorways that unite earth with the heavens.

DSCN2530The veil between the world of what’s seen (let’s call it Ordinary Reality) and the world of what’s unseen (basically Everything Else) can grow thinner at certain times of the year, too. In the northern hemisphere, for thousands of years October 31, All Hallow’s Eve, was the time to bless home, hearth, and community by honoring those we love who had passed out of ordinary reality. A few remnants of those traditions still survive in our culture. They can be fun (Walk The Corn Maze!), challenging (Betcha can’t sleep all night in the graveyard!), or downright ghoulish (no descriptions necessary).

In my long-ago childhood, I was taught that October 31 was a bridge to All Souls’ Day. It was an evening for masks, for tricks, for navigating the world and coming home with oceans of sugar and chocolate, yes. But its real importance lay in the eerie, precious concept that the truth of life doesn’t stop with the grave. I was taught, blessed be, that the creepie, crawly, skeletal, and scary don’t have the last word. I was taught that joy comes both in the chocolate and in the morning. I also found that that greed would interfere with the joy. (It was chocolate, after all, and I learned the hard way).

I discovered, too, that fear has a place: it’s an early-warning system, an auto-alert that can save lives, relationships, souls. But as director of a life, fear’s a crippler who cultivates a spirit of timidity that mistrusts living. It’s time to once again honor that there’s a singular Source Point for life, and there are real and trustworthy bridges between earth and heaven. And always, as the ancients might have said to one another, may The Force be with you.

Adapted from an article originally published November 1, 2011, in The Monterey News as “From the Meetinghouse, October 2011”. All rights reserved.