Traveling to The Thin Place

When Eric Weiner described “thin places” in his New York Times article Where Heaven and Earth Meet, he reflected on travel to places “where {he} could breath again… and became {his} essential self.”  He listed bookstores among such enervating sites, and his mention of Powell’s Book store in Portland, Oregon, reminded me of my good intentions to get there someday.  Have you been there?  Bought a book there?

Rereading the 2012 article gave me some perspective on my own recent travels.  According to Weiner, thin places cannot be planned; they just happen.  Although escorted tours come with expectations,  those unexpected moments – usually alone – make the fulfilling connections.    I’ve found thin places when I wasn’t looking: my early morning walk in England’s Lake Country among the ferns and babbling brooks; my awe at the vastness and the color of the glacial lake in Canada as the sun rose over the mountain;  a bulldog sleeping peacefully outside a country store in Wales; a fireplace in Alberta as the snow quietly fell outside.

IMG_0087Some thin places have been closer to home: the quiet of the Pacific Ocean before dawn as I walked along a seawall, a deserted park before crowds of walkers took over the paths.

Weiner’s paraphrase of Kierkegaard:

“Travel, like life, is best understood backward but must be experienced forward…”

reminded me how often I did not appreciate where I’d been until later – when the memory of beauty or quiet sustained me in a harried world.

Where have you experienced “thin places”?

The Hurricanes – Double Whammy in Hawaii

1207432755255451633Andy_whirlpool.svg.med1207432755255451633Andy_whirlpool.svg.medAnticipating the two hurricanes heading toward my island home in Hawaii has everyone anxious – some more frantic than others.  Tracking the swirling colors of both storms as Iselle and Julio head toward these isolated rocks in the middle of the ocean, the local weatherman is excited to broadcast more than the usual wave height and surf conditions.  Flights have been cancelled, city bus service stopped, shelters opened.  Most residents are hunkered down watching the news, wondering if they will still have electricity in a few hours.  Vacationers are oblivious – most still on the beach or in the ocean; later, a few will challenge the high waves, despite repeated warnings.

I have my candles, my flashlights, and bottled water.  I even have a hand crank radio from National Geographic.  More importantly, I have a 9781400062126_p0_v3_s260x420book –  Bret Anthony Johnson’s Remember Me Like This – only requires the power of my turning the pages.