Detours in Life
Mega Post #11
When I first began this blog several years ago, I never thought about when I would not post out of respect for lives lost. As an optimist, I tend to think happy thoughts. Life interrupts such a practice, though, and it soon became apparent that perhaps respectful silence was in order. Thus, at times of terrorist mayhem, I have not posted. Sadly this week required yet another detour from my schedule.
My life is not perfect and there are times that I get frustrated. This Pentecost has been a time of detours for me and Tuesday afternoon as I prepared to post, word came of a disturbed young man driving through a crowd of people. I quickly gave thanks for friends in the area of the tragedy who were safe and chastised myself for my trivial frustration of being mildly inconvenienced.
Most of us go through our day on a schedule of sorts. We take pride in adhering to that schedule and are happy when our agenda for the day is met. Too often, though, that schedule becomes our purpose and our focus for living, instead of merely a means to live better. The space we occupy can become disoriented as far as what we profess to believe and hold dear and what we actually place in top priority. As we travel through our life, we sometimes forget just exactly what we are traveling toward, what space we are seeking.
In 2012 Eric Weiner wrote: “TRAVEL, like life, is best understood backward but must be experienced forward, to paraphrase Kierkegaard. After decades of wandering, only now does a pattern emerge. I’m drawn to places that beguile and inspire, sedate and stir, places where, for a few blissful moments I loosen my death grip on life, and can breathe again. It turns out these destinations have a name: thin places.
“It is, admittedly, an odd term. One could be forgiven for thinking that thin places describe skinny nations (see Chile) or perhaps cities populated by thin people (see Los Angeles). No, thin places are much deeper than that. They are locales where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine, or the transcendent or, as I like to think of it, the “Infinite Whatever.”
“Travel to thin places does not necessarily lead to anything as grandiose as a “spiritual breakthrough,” whatever that means, but it does disorient. It confuses. We lose our bearings, and find new ones. Or not. Either way, we are jolted out of old ways of seeing the world, and therein lies the transformative magic of travel.
“It’s not clear who first uttered the term “thin places,” but they almost certainly spoke with an Irish brogue. The ancient pagan Celts, and later, Christians, used the term to describe mesmerizing places like the wind-swept isle of Iona (now part of Scotland) or the rocky peaks of Croagh Patrick. Heaven and earth, the Celtic saying goes, are only three feet apart, but in thin places that distance is even shorter.”
When we experience or read of terrorist tragedies, our world seems to become smaller and the spaces between ourselves and the chaos very narrow. We think of spirits as being able to traverse solid structures. The saints of time seem to live high above the rest of us mere souls trying to get through the day. Suddenly we wish for a way to travel through those divisions, a map for finding those thin spaces the Celtics believed existed. Perhaps in such thin spaces, our life would not be such turmoil and we could better cope with the inevitable interruptions.
In the wee hours after which we have placed candles in our pumpkins to guide the departed home, we easily envision such a thin space. Halloween is the prelim of a day set aside to honor all those who lived noble lives. All Saints Day follows for those who have endeavored to lead goodly lives and leave a legacy of benefit to all. Today, All Soul’s Day, is for the rest of us.
May today we detour from the norm to seek that connection between the past and the future. Today is our present, both meaning the here and now and a gift. Let us value our space today and the living we create.