I just finished reading Pastor Richard Dahlstrom’s book, The Colors of Hope: Becoming people of Mercy, Justice and Love. I highly recommend the book and I must add that I even more enjoyed meeting Richard in person last summer at Mount Hermon. In the book, he tells the story of a profound moment in his life when he was 12 years old. He was visiting his sweet grandmother, who was the pastry chef at Mount Hermon. He describes this amazing time with his family in the Redwoods, while at the same time finding himself sitting in the very back to hear an English preacher named John Hunter. He was so moved by what Pastor John Hunter spoke about that he, as a 12-year-old, bought Hunter’s book and began reading it at his Grandmother’s cabin. For Dahlstrom, that week was a significant milestone in his spiritual life. He finishes telling about this whole experience with a question.
Who’s more important in that story: Hunter or Grandma? Sometimes we think that whatever it is we happen to do as faith art isn’t ‘big enough’ or ‘spiritual enough,’ but I’m telling you: the warmth and safety of Grandma’s cabin was every bit as important in my encounter with God as the great Bible teacher from England. As much as I liked listening to him, that cabin and all it contained when I was a child created an atmosphere where I had the space to encounter eternal things. The Celtic Church had a name for this: ‘thin places,’ where the distance between eternity and earth is permeable. My grandma and great-aunt made a thin place out of hugs, laughter, and cinnamon rolls.
Dahlstrom makes a great point. Anytime, and in any place, that you and I are creating some kind of “thin place” for others to “encounter eternal things” we are participating in what God considers quite significant. As America celebrates St. Patrick’s day tomorrow, take this Celtic Church idea with you and keep on creating beautiful “thin places” for others.