Friday, June 15, 2012

My Thin Place

Emigrant Peak at sunset
No, this particular entry is not about weight - or at least about the kind that involves dieting and the shedding of pounds.  When I say "Thin Place" I mean a place, a space, a moment in time, a term first used by Celtic Christians - it's a space described as the place where heaven and earth meet, where the veil between the spiritual and physical world becomes very thin - so thin that you swear you have broken some barrier and are standing on holy ground.  It's a sacred place, one that is not oft experienced.  But, when it is experienced - you remember it, mark it.  You long to return to it.

So it is that the Paradise Valley in Montana is my Thin Place.  And it's the place I return to year after year.  The beauty of it all is that it isn't just my Thin Place - it is Dave's Thin Place and Nate's Thin Place.  And, for the friends and family who have joined us here each year, I would venture to say that they have had a similar experience here.

Brooks and Nate at the Lodge
This is the place where heaven and earth converge for me in a way that I cannot explain and have never been able to replicate in other spaces.  One cannot stand on the banks of the Yellowstone River, looking around at the Absaroka Mountain Range and not sense that something far greater than you has been at work, is at work and will be at work long after our footprints on the shore have been erased.  The veil between the spiritual and physical is always thin around here.  It's thin when the hard winds come down from Yankee Jim Canyon and whip through the cottonwoods.  It's thin when a storm descends on the valley and drops snow on Emigrant Peak.  It's thin as the river rises and falls with the time of year, flowing north, sometimes so swiftly it takes whole trees with it, sometimes lower, slower and clearer - perfect for fly fishing. 

I live in the city year-round - off of a busy street.  I love my home because it is the home I've built with Dave and Nate.  The love that goes in and out of that place throughout a calendar year is special.  And I have experienced a few Thin Places during my journey in the city - Christmas Eve and the lighting of the Christ Candle every year, memorable visits from friends, cuddling on the couch with my now 12-year-old boy (and these days, any cuddling is uncommon and therefore memorable).  But Thin Places are rare, which is why they are special, and in our case, why we leave our city home and come back to the same place summer after summer after summer.
The whole family on the swing at Riversbend Lodge
 Here in the Paradise Valley, when I wake up in the morning, throw open the curtains and the door to our bedroom... and I hear the water moving by, see Emigrant Peak rising above it, I step out on the deck and close my eyes and step into my Thin Place.    When the moon rises over the Absaroka Mountains, perfectly reflected in the river, and the pelicans floating with the current suddenly take flight - quiet, soft, majestic - the boundaries between heaven and earth simply vanish. 

It is our last full day in Montana before we head to Colorado for work.  But, we'll be back.  Because we have realized that without our Thin Place we have a hard time making it through the rest of the year.  As I write this blog and stare up at the mountain, watch the river flow by beneath it, I take every second of it in.  I smell it, breathe it and tuck it away to pull out on a particularly hard day when I can't find my bearings.  Life is meant to be lived this way all the time.  And, we're working on that plan.  In the meantime, we've deliberately slowed down the pace back home as best we can over the years.  We've said "no" to many a thing, we've committed to more of these Thin Place moments, even when we're outside of our favorite place on earth.

Tomorrow we'll pack up and drive out of the valley again - teary eyed and ready for next summer's visit.  I hate to give away our sacred place, but will do so anyway.  A "shout out" to Jeff, Pete and Carol Reed for sharing Riversbend Lodge with us each year.  You know the treasure you have in the lodge and the B&B, and the rest of us have enjoyed being the recipients of this Thin Place.  Of course, we're working on being your neighbors someday. :)

Wherever your Thin Place is - our prayer is that you would find it and live there as much as you can!

-Rachel for the Quan Clan


Tom Smith said...

enjoy your thin place Quans! It looks amazing

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Jeff Reed said...

Wow, thanks for the "shout out" but, more importantly, thanks for taking the time to pen such graceful words and a reminder to me of why my soul melds with the land, wind, water of Paradise Valley. So sad I didn't get to see you guys this summer and try a new fishing spot. I hope Nate had a chance to get some fishing in. - Jeff