Recently I officiated at the funeral service for Frances Savage Barden Bailey. Frances made 95 trips around the sun on her way to heaven. It wasn’t a large gathering, maybe 75 people. Someone said you have to die young to have a large crowd at your funeral. At the service we focused on what kept Frances so full of hope all these years despite the ups and downs of life. A painful divorce after twenty years of marriage, but a second marriage she claimed as the love of her life. Her three girls cheering as their mom rode in the second seat on her true love’s Harley Davidson. Unfortunately an incurable disease took her true love away after twelve years. For her final thirty six years Frances struggled financially partly due to a fire in her apartment building at age 77 that took everything.
So where did Frances find Hope? Early on in life Frances discovered Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” This crown jewel in the middle of the Psalm became a thin place for her. The idea of “thin places” is a Celtic Christian term for those rare locales where the distance between heaven and earth collapses. It’s the territory of the indescribable. It’s beyond the power of language to do so. A moment when silence seems tangible. Non religious people seek non religious explanations for what’s going on. However, for people of faith it’s a time to cease all efforts to usurp the sovereignty of God. All the distractions of life are opaqued out with the presence of the Holy One. We can’t live in the thin places but we experience them along the journey to give us courage and strength to go on. Something as elegant as looking at the Leonardo da Vinci painting of The Last Supper or as simple as attending the Compline at St Stevens Episcopal church on a Sunday evening or being caught up in individual or congregational worship can create a thin place for us.
Frances said she adopted this scripture and used it over and over to keep moving forward. It’s an idea for everyone to consider. “Be still and know that I am God”.
I can’t wait to hear stories of hope on the rise as we discover and experience the thin places.