November 28, 2013

The Labyrinth Is a “Thin Place”

By Margaret Rappaport

Let’s consider what makes a “thin place” before we look at the way the labyrinth fits the description. The term,”thin place”, like the name”labyrinth” has ancient origins in many different cultures. The Celtic people used it to indicate mesmerizing places in the environment. They suggested that heaven and earth are only 3 feet apart but in thin places that distance is shorter. Thin places are deep however, and they afford us glimpses of transcendence, infinite time and space, the divine.

Early Christians viewed a thin place as a meeting place between the material world and the spiritual realm. It is where the eternal seeps through to the physical world and thereby to us. For them, thin places were often sacred spaces in Basilicas and Churches. Mirea Eliode, author of “The Sacred and the Profane” discusses the religious context of thin places, “some parts of space are qualitatively different from others.” Thin places transform us and we become more fully ourselves having been inspired by being in them.

Buddhists tell us that sacred spaces get us in touch with “suchness”. While these places may not be beautiful or tranquil, as we might expect, they usually jolt us into fresh ways of thinking and feeling. We find within ourselves new, unanticipated sensations and perceptions that stir us. We become quiet, relaxed and beguiled.

Perhaps you can see the comparisons emerging. If you’ve been following our progress in understanding and walking the labyrinth in this blog space, you might realize that you can plan for encountering thinness. You need not wait to discover thin places, although that will always happen. You can choose to increase the opportunity to find this solitary experience. I recall the Apache proverb, “Wisdom sits in places”. Some or many of us may find wisdom in the labyrinth. One person’s walk in the labyrinth will not be the same as another’s, of course, but often when we walk together we enhance each other’s awareness of what we seek from our time on the spiraling pathway.

As usual, have no expectations and don’t follow another’s style. Simply let loose, unmask, lose your bearings and find new ones on your walk in the labyrinth.

Margaret Rappaport
Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator