During a misty winter day in Chile, when thick clouds draped over a volcano obscuring it from view, I walked the paths snaking through a plot of land cloaked by trees. Algae on the stones in the stream that flowed parallel to the path glowed even in the low light of the afternoon. Small plants pushed undaunted around the rocks creating a carpet on the ground and robes for the tree trunks against the winter chill.
With my father terminally ill back in Texas, the walk took on a different meaning—one of death to rebirth to new life.
This experience became, for me, the closest to that melding of sacred and the everyday world, a place where a fragile veil separated one world from another. In Celtic spirituality, this is known as a “thin place.”
When a man named Patrick brought his Christian faith to what would become Ireland, he entered a land already holding to certain beliefs, including that of the Otherworld, the land of the Sidhe, the world of the faeries and other Celtic mythological creatures. As is common throughout the history of Christianity, Patrick did what other religious missionaries have done and merged the concepts of both beliefs. From that union comes this idea of places where mystery merges with the world we know. Where the sacred connects with the familiar.
I find a lot of inspiration in a place in which these two worlds meet, in a Celtic-inspired novel for middle grade to a short story of a girl who makes a life in the heart of a tree to the review I did of a movie in which a family lives at the border between land and sea. Enjoy these stories that feature a “thin place”:
- Fionnualagh, one of Wendy Darling’s bedtime stories
- An excerpt from The Mists of Na Crainn, when the young Lyric Doherty watches her father through her bedroom window standing at the entrance to the forest behind the cottage where they live
- A review of the Oscar-nominated animated film, Song of the Sea
If you’re not a subscriber to the “Stories are Journeys” eNewsletter, sign up using the form to the right.