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Thin times and profound connection

Providence Associate Sheila Galvin reflects on those “thin places” where heaven is very close to Earth.

The concept of “thin times” has captivated my thoughts and stirred my being for more than a year now. “Thin times” was a topic of discussion in our March 2016 Providence Associates Retreat. At that retreat, Sister Ann Sullivan described thin times/places as “Providence alive in very being.” She shared that “thin times” is a Celtic saying meaning that heaven and Earth are much closer in thin times and places. This concept has been a recurring theme during my quiet reflection and in spirited conversation with dear ones in my life. Just this week, it was a topic for meditation and reflection in our Associates’ weekly email.

In the retreat materials, Sister Ann Sullivan included this chant, from a piece by Joyce Rupp:

Lead Me in Your Love
Thin places
Where the door between this world
And the next is cracked open
For a moment
And the light is not all on the other side
Thin places transform us.
In thin places we become our
More essential selves

Recently I have begun reading Richard Rohr’s daily meditations from the Center for Action and Contemplation. There I found this Meister Eckhart quote: “The eye with which I see God is the same one with which God sees me.” This, says Richard Rohr, is “stressing the complete simultaneity of the energy of connection.” He continues, “When we yearn, we come into a sympathetic vibration with a deeper heart-knowing … it connects us. Yearning is a vibration of the connectedness.”

Is this “complete simultaneity,” this “vibration” descriptive of thin time? I knew a Sister of Charity who once said that her longing is to vibrate with the divine. This statement has remained with me for years. I am certain she has achieved this goal, if not during this life then in her passing through to the next.

I don’t know that I have profound ideas about “thin times” as much as I have great curiosity and now new terminology to describe moments when it seems the veil is most sheer between the living and those who have passed. Between two hearts who hear each other’s song. For those times when the divine shines through the eyes of those in our midst and pierces the heart. For times when colors, vibrancy, the wind or stillness in nature takes our breath away. Or for the swelling of my heart when music sweeps me up, fills me and grounds me.

I feel called to simply be aware, to be open, to notice and to reflect on such profound connection/oneness. And, I pray that we each may experience Providence so alive in very being.

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Sheila Galvin

Sheila Galvin

Sheila Galvin is a Providence Associate with the Sisters of Providence and is a 1987 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky, and is an intensive intervention, special education teacher in the New Albany-Floyd County, Indiana, school district.

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  1. Avatar Dawn Tomaszewski on July 8, 2017 at 9:08 am

    Thanks, Sheila. I so appreciated your reflections. I think we have many of these thin places at the Woods!

  2. Avatar Lorraine Kirker on July 8, 2017 at 10:30 am

    Thanks, Sheila, for sharing your thoughts. This is a keeper I need to reflect on again.

  3. Avatar Bill Hughes on July 8, 2017 at 11:14 am

    Thank you , Sheila! I’m keeping this one, too. Beautifully expressed. Richard Rohr is calling all who hear him to wonderful ways of recapturing the heart of Christian faith.

  4. Avatar Lori Strawn on July 8, 2017 at 11:15 am

    This is a gorgeous reflection! Brava, Sheila!

  5. Avatar Eileen Hammersmith on July 8, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    Thanks for writing about thin times and places! I am really interested in Celtic spirituality and have heard this phrase before. I have been to Ireland twice and have found many thin places there, but I think the Woods are a thin place also!!!

  6. Avatar Mary Collins Dove on July 8, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    Beautiful! Thank you so much for posting today, Sheila. As always, you inspire me.

  7. Avatar Jane Fischer on July 8, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    Sheila, this is beautiful. I read this in the kitchen where the dishwasher was echoing in my left ear and the Cubs were vying for my right ear blaring in from the family room. I just kept reading… and your words brought stillness …. enjoying my thin place in my own thin time. Thank you.

  8. Avatar Carolyn Kessler SP on August 11, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    Your reflection on thin lines holds such a depth of meaning, Sheila. Thank you so much for sharing.

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