robertogreco + paris + cathedrals   1

Thin Places, Where We Are Jolted Out of Old Ways of Seeing the World - NYTimes.com
"TRAVEL, like life, is best understood backward but must be experienced forward, to paraphrase Kierkegaard. After decades of wandering, only now does a pattern emerge. I’m drawn to places that beguile and inspire, sedate and stir, places where, for a few blissful moments I loosen my death grip on life, and can breathe again. It turns out these destinations have a name: thin places.

It is, admittedly, an odd term. One could be forgiven for thinking that thin places describe skinny nations (see Chile) or perhaps cities populated by thin people (see Los Angeles). No, thin places are much deeper than that. They are locales where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine, or the transcendent or, as I like to think of it, the Infinite Whatever.

Travel to thin places does not necessarily lead to anything as grandiose as a “spiritual breakthrough,” whatever that means, but it does disorient. It confuses. We lose our bearings, and find new ones. Or not. Either way, we are jolted out of old ways of seeing the world, and therein lies the transformative magic of travel.

It’s not clear who first uttered the term “thin places,” but they almost certainly spoke with an Irish brogue. The ancient pagan Celts, and later, Christians, used the term to describe mesmerizing places like the wind-swept isle of Iona (now part of Scotland) or the rocky peaks of Croagh Patrick. Heaven and earth, the Celtic saying goes, are only three feet apart, but in thin places that distance is even shorter.

So what exactly makes a place thin? It’s easier to say what a thin place is not. A thin place is not necessarily a tranquil place, or a fun one, or even a beautiful one, though it may be all of those things too. Disney World is not a thin place. Nor is Cancún. Thin places relax us, yes, but they also transform us — or, more accurately, unmask us. In thin places, we become our more essential selves."



"Mircea Eliade, the religious scholar, would understand what I experienced in that Tokyo bar. Writing in his classic work “The Sacred and the Profane,” he observed that “some parts of space are qualitatively different from others.” An Apache proverb takes that idea a step further: “Wisdom sits in places.”

The question, of course, is which places? And how do we get there? You don’t plan a trip to a thin place; you stumble upon one. But there are steps you can take to increase the odds of an encounter with thinness. For starters, have no expectations. Nothing gets in the way of a genuine experience more than expectations, which explains why so many “spiritual journeys” disappoint. And don’t count on guidebooks — or even friends — to pinpoint your thin places. To some extent, thinness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Or, to put it another way: One person’s thin place is another’s thick one."



"Many thin places are wild, untamed, but cities can also be surprisingly thin. The world’s first urban centers, in Mesopotamia, were erected not as places of commerce or empire but, rather, so inhabitants could consort with the gods. What better place to marvel at the glory of God and his handiwork (via his subcontractors: us) than on the Bund in Shanghai, with the Jetsons-like skyscrapers towering above, or at Montmartre in Paris, with the city’s Gothic glory revealed below.

Bookstores are thin places, too, and, for me, none is thinner than Powell’s in Portland, Ore. Sure, there are grander bookstores, and older ones, but none quite possesses Powell’s mix of order and serendipity, especially in its used-book collection — Chekhov happily cohabitating with “Personal Finance for Dummies,” Balzac snuggling with Grisham.

Yet, ultimately, an inherent contradiction trips up any spiritual walkabout: The divine supposedly transcends time and space, yet we seek it in very specific places and at very specific times. If God (however defined) is everywhere and “everywhen,” as the Australian aboriginals put it so wonderfully, then why are some places thin and others not? Why isn’t the whole world thin?

Maybe it is but we’re too thick to recognize it. Maybe thin places offer glimpses not of heaven but of earth as it really is, unencumbered. Unmasked."

[See also (via litherland) http://jarrettfuller.tumblr.com/post/62312770603/making-thin-places-and-in-between-spaces ]
thinplaces  buddhism  spirituality  travel  2012  ericweiner  place  cathedrals  churches  nature  newdelhi  jerusalem  rumi  turkey  nepal  boudhanath  katmandu  shanghai  paris  montmartre  powell's  portland  oregon  bookstores  divine  god  nyc  istanbul  kongkong  airports  tokyo  japan 
december 2013 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:



description:


tags: