This meditation starts off big and ends really small.
I first experienced the presence of God when I was five years old – an angelic visitation that simply assured me that I was loved. At 15, I was called to the ministry from a heavenly voice – at 24, a blue light descended upon a dying boy in an intensive care unit, perhaps as an answer to my prayer. He was given only hours to live – he recovered fully. At the age of 59, that same presence instantly healed me from a terminal disease. These were BIG – really big – like the experience of the Garden tomb or the Statue of David. Yet I have learned through wisdom, that these experiences were no more significant than what are the SMALL ways in which Divine presence occurs within each moment.
John O’Donohue was big – he and I first met in 1996 – I hired him to co-lead a seminar with me at the San Francisco Hilton – this sold out event was really big. John was an illuminating presence. Four years later, we spent more time together in Ireland and I shared with him my recent purchase of a big farm in Virginia. It would serve as a conference center for training executives in spiritual practices for my now expanding ministry in the marketplace. I enthusiastically described its unique nature – a mountaintop property of 200 acres overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. I tried to explain its spiritual energy – he interrupted me and simply said: “Jeff – it is a thin place.” Asking for a little more explanation he said: “It is where heaven and earth intersect – where distance and time collapse – and where holiness reigns supreme.”
Unlike the thick places I had known that often collapse under the weight of their own self appointed sacredness, I learned that thin places were pure, transparent and danced with a frequency that was transformational. That was big.
Even bigger was the news in 2008 that my friend John had tragically died at the age of 52. His heart stopped – my heart paused – I felt the pain of this loss – yet the loss to the countless pilgrims who were nourished by him was even bigger.
But then it became clear to me as if John was speaking again. Thin places were not only in the big things which often do not happen for some – they were potentially in every –thing – the little things – the common experiences available to everyone– the holy moments of each breath when words fail to describe experiences saturated with meaning.
John still speaks to me daily, long before daybreak. His book – Bless this space Between Us – has an honored place on the table between the two chairs where my wife Susan and I sit. This is a thin place – an intersection with the past and the now. It is small – it is quiet – it is simple – it is holy.
Two beloved dogs sleep at my feet patiently awaiting their early morning walk. They breathe in tune with the expanding universe –they love at a depth I have not yet achieved. They forgive without hesitation – they play with abandon – they are the presence of the holy of holies.
When Susan enters at daybreak, we sit together quietly. We share this space between us. I am deeply grateful – I sense the presence. In our tiny home on the water, all that was once big is now simple – and small.
This is a thin place – and it is holy.