Thin places

I was on my way to pick my kids up from school, and I stopped to take this photograph in spite of being rather late. I can’t help myself. I can’t take a drive on a clear day without stopping somewhere along the road to take a photo of the mountains. One would think after nearly two years of the same view, I would learn to stop living like a tourist.  My husband told a friend that living here, looking on the beauty of the Alps is a spiritual experience. That might sound dramatic and all existential-y, but it is true. Our friend knew just what he meant, responding by calling it a ‘thin place’.

Thin places are the ones where the line between the world we know and the one we don’t begins to blur. It is where we catch a glimpse of God’s Kingdom within the boundaries of our own. I think we can experience them in all manner of ways, they aren’t just mountain top experiences. Thin places may show up in the birth of a child, in the way you love and are loved, in your work, in the change of the seasons, in the miraculous and in the messy. The thin places are there.

I’ve been thinking about these places as I think about art. For me, good art is that which expresses a thin place. I think that is part of the role of the artist. To find the thin places. To capture them in words or music or color, to trap them behind a lens or mold them in clay. An artist sees beyond what this world is to what it should be, they see the hard and know that somewhere in that, there might be Holy too.


  • I lived in Colorado when I moved out on my own. I could not agree with you more…everyday in my car I would just stare at those mountains, feeling the spiritual presence of them. They brought for me independence, interdependence, strength, and the knowledge of how little I was in the scheme of creation.

  • Your words here are art, and they have inspired me.

    “I think that is part of the role of the artist. To find the thin places.”

    Beautiful, and so true.

  • rae

    The name given and your description are such unique ways to identify the meeting place of us and Him. You have caused me to ponder upon my own thin places – they are so vast and regrettably, all too easily forgotten with the passing of time.

  • I also agree about staring at mountains, or in my case, waterways. Mystical landscapes have been sensed by people since the beginning of our existence. I so look forward to seeing the Alps some day.

    And Flower Patch Farmgirl, I believe artists actually create better and offer more of themselves in their art if they are creating in a thin place. Thin places draw more out.

    Loved the post.

  • Wow, what a beautiful place! I know what you mean about living as a tourist. There are many mornings I stop to take pictures of the mist coming up in our cove. Scenes like this strike a place deep within us that can only be filled with God’s beautiful magnificence.

  • I love this, and agree: I think it exactly is the role of the artist to capture, as best they can, the thin places, in the medium of their choice. I love the mountains, too; I grew up and live in MI, where there are none, but my mom is from Honduras, and I’ve seen them there. I would love to live somewhere with mountains some day soon.

  • I’m over from jumping tandem and I’m glad I stopped by. Beautiful words for a breathtaking photo!

    Stopping to take photographs like this, despite the fact that you see this everyday (um, wow.) really means that you are appreciative, enthusiastic, and are open to joy.

    And part of that means you bear some responsibility to share this with others! As an artist your self-expression is a way to work through your interpretation of the world, and by doing so help others to grasp those feelings (in this case, to see that joy, and to be appreciative of our place in His world…).

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