Being Thin in the Thick of It
Thoughts from SJU student Lindsay Hueston '16
Have you ever been in a thin place?
It is a location where the daily becomes divine, if only for a few small moments; it is a place where the ordinary becomes extraordinary, where the physical space on earth becomes a spot of transcendence, a rip in the atmosphere, a filter removed from an otherwise filtered life—a filterless situation that enables us to feel more deeply because there is less separating us from God than we perceive it to be, a filterless situation that strips away the layers between heaven and earth, if only for a few moments or minutes or hours.
It is in this type of place that I feel most human and most alive. I have felt these moments of “thinness” several times in my life before, and in these moments all time seems to stop and all that exists is the wonderful feeling of existing, the recognition of the awe-creating beauty of simply being. It is a feeling that one can only describe as rightness, that one can only describe as peace….These moments render me speechless, and remind me that my distance from the divine may not be as far as I often think.
One of these thin places includes a chapel at a retreat center nearby, St. Raphaela’s. Though several of my “thin” moments have taken place in a religious or spiritual or service-based context, it is often the most impactful “thin” moments that strike me when I am not expecting it—when I see a random act of kindness done on the street, when a certain space has a “right” vibe to it, when these layers of human triviality seem to strip themselves away in a certain human connection.
I was at this chapel tonight, with a group of SJU students for a final Koinonia [Christian Life Community] leader dinner. Sr. Jessica showed us to it and immediately in stepping inside once again (as I’d done several times before in my life), I was overwhelmed with a sense of peace. I felt the sheer belonging that marked my ordinary extraordinary: this place was thin. This place had always been thin for me. In this chapel, I gave my Live the Fourth talk as a Kairos leader my senior year of high school. I sat in those chairs as an SJU freshman on the Chapel Choir retreat with a candle in my hands, nervousness welling inside me as we each named aloud something we wanted to work on in the next year—something we were uncomfortable with, something we wanted to let go of. I watched as light flickered in front of my eyes, again as a freshman, but this time on the Ignite retreat—our presence glowing like the candles placed in front of us as our community grew stronger, lit with the fire of new friendships and reaffirmed faith. I sat in that chapel, too, as a sophomore in Chapel Choir on our fall retreat, listening and learning and soaking in all that there was to soak.
And here I was again, having just finished my junior year of college, and yet again I was standing in the St. Raph’s chapel with tears nearly welling in my eyes as again, this chapel whispering welcomes to me, a constant that I’d forgotten; it was beckoning me again to reunite with its simplicity and its unending grace.
This chapel has formed communities. I have witnessed so many friendships here solidified with hugs, so many smiles of understanding met with the subtle wiping of tears, so many songs played and thoughts stirred and stories shared. Within its walls of glass and stone I’d learned again and again what love was: the love that stems from the power of presence, the love that creates communities, the love so strong we can’t translate it to our own language: kairos, agape, koinonia.
And to me, it is a place of the thinnest kind.