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Looking for The Place to Really Fit

When I travelled a great deal for work, one of the first things I would do upon settling into the hotel room was to turn on the television.

Media theorists linked the act to the ancient tribal practice of gathering around the campfire. Even though I was in foreign territory the flickering blue light provided something of home. The circle of light kept away the growling predators of loneliness, fear and isolation.

(There was also something about the Alpha waves emitted from the screen soothing a part of the brain but I like the campfire metaphor better.)

Over the last decade, I have noticed a shift. Now one of the top 5 things I do upon entering a hotel room is to check to see if I can login to the wireless network. Once logged in I breathe a small sigh of relief and then proceed to log on my other devices.

I am connected although in a much different way than the emotional connection of the campfire analogy. The WIFI connection feels more interactive and personal. I check for messages from my wife, the family, friends and then for work. Some part of me is up and running even as I lie down to test the bed.

I am plugged into my network.

In Parksville, BC, overlooking the amazing Rathtrevor Beach, we feel connected in  another way.

For my wife, this is THE place where she feels “right,” peaceful, at one with herself and creation.

For me, it is Maui.

I remember making small talk with a shopgirl in Maui. She sold everything to move to Maui and now works in a shop on the beach for much less money than she made “back home.”

“It’s expensive,” she said, “but it is where I belong.”

What is this sense of connection about? Where does it come from?

Maybe part of it sprouts from a sense of beauty and wonder. Isn’t this wonderful? To look across the strait at the Coastal Mountains, to feel the sea breeze and, at low tide, to appreciate the vastness of the beach. Some awe!

Is part of the mystical connection of such places that something in them lets us slow down and see, hear and feel?

My wife says, “I don’t feel I can go fast here.” A miracle freshly hatched.

Part of the signs of such connected places is they seem to facilitate relaxation. The normal expectations of life are not present - the house cannot be cleaned, the garden weeded, the family made happy or work completed. So breathe, bring the shoulders down from the attic.

Still, I wonder, what makes these places special, different from other holiday locations? The spirit fits, the body relaxes and …?

In the Psalms, a phrase like “my soul finds rest in God” appears. The connotation usually carries some blend of awe, belonging, gratitude, peace, “fit.”

A relic I carry from my childhood and early theological education is the Greek anthropology that describes our being using such words as body, soul and spirit. I have always imagined the soul to be that spiritual connection we have with God. We can clog the pipeline with all kinds of thoughts and deeds but when it runs clean we are really plugged in!

We can clog the spiritual connection we have with God but when it runs clean we are really plugged in!

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I am in the midst of wondering whether these places - like Rathtrevor for my wife, Maui for me - should indeed be called sacred places. Maybe the Celtics would name them thin places; if so, maybe that is a better designation, locations where the veil between the dimensions is thinner than normal and so we are able to access the Really Real.

Thin places - where the veil separating heaven and earth becomes transparent, where the Really Real becomes visible.

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Or perhaps a more focused description might be Sabbath place. In the Jewish and Christian tradition, we have become accustomed to associating the Sabbath with time. I wonder if what I feel might more accurately fit within this framework.

I wonder.

Or am attributing more to these times and places than they should carry?

That said, I remain curious.

Which places provoke similar feelings for you and how do you think of them?

13 Comments

  1. I have stubbled on some very
    “thin places” that have moved me to tears, including a rocky beach in Wales, a certain beach in the Tofino area and the petrograph park behind the United Church on Gabriola Island to name a few. And Keith, I love Maui ( and Kauai) too. I could live there!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    Carol

  2. I wonder if the truly sacred places are those without the restraints of time and space. Perhaps the veil is thinnest when you are nowhere. And everywhere. At once. Relaxation therapists coach clients to mentally picture themselves in a safe or happy place. Essentially, thinking happy thoughts. Similarly, many recharge their bodies and brains by releasing their essence into the energy of appreciating all that is in the present moment. in a bid to come ever-closer to the live-giving mystery behind the veil. When I was really sick years ago, meditation “fit” with me. My wife said it was the only time I was really happy. In a sense, by “unplugging” (from devices, from our internal chatter, from the ‘real world’) we can really plug in. So maybe, just maybe, the spiritual pipeline runs cleanest without the clutter of the physical and the temporal. An interesting irony. Thanks always for sharing Keith. Your talent is our gift! Or… (I’m mixing your posts 🙂

    1. Thanks Dennis. I’m no expert on meditation but it always seems to me that it is one of those practices that by emphasizing the need to be totally in the present moment that time is also then transcended.

      I have trouble with the notion that somehow we have to get rid of – or downplay – the physical. I will have to think more about thecways transcending the immediate means “letting go” of the physical. In the thin spaces I don’t feel I’m letting go of something but rather connecting to something larger more easily.

      Others may have greater insight.

      1. What are time and space? Ditto our physical world? Quantum physics theorized – and now the research at CERN proves the theory- that the same phenomena exist simultaneously and behave with an infinite number of possible “realities” as the outcome. Thus, transcending that which we view as immutable is occurring at all times, forever and always. I see the meditation process in much the same way. Whether we view the process as letting go or connecting is in the eye of the beholder. The gist is in the outcome the individual’s experience. I think if you talk to those who do meditate, they’ll tell you the more they practice, the closer they get to God, or truth, or knowingness, or love, or…. I’d call that making a connection! Of course, I’m no expert either.

  3. Ok, meditation is great, but so is Kauai. 🙂 Dropped anchor in Hanalei Bay after circumnavigating the island. The valley, mists, the rainbows, the easy temperature, cooling winds and beautiful beach served as the backdrop to our day explorations further afoot. Stunning.

    1. Coincidentally just had an email from Jack Canfield – Chicken Soup for the Soul – inviting me to a personal retreat on Maui. I suspect he may have sent it to a couple of others as well. I think the price may be prohibitive. 🙂
      http://www.jackcanfieldmaui.com

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