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The Thin Places

Ann Mellow
February 01, 2017

Thin PlacezWhenever I find myself in a sacred space I am somehow changed, conscious as if for the first time of that liminal place between heaven and earth. It doesn’t matter whether I’m with wriggly preschoolers, in a high school chapel service, or simply stepping into a church, temple, or shrine when traveling here or abroad.

Legend has it there’s an ancient Chinese curse which goes, “May you live in interesting times.” Surely our current national condition qualifies as “interesting” (among other descriptors!). And surely having sacred spaces in our schools - places where we leave “chronos” behind and enter into “kairos” - offer critical counterpoints to the chaos and confusion of the world outside.

It can be easy to take for granted the multiple ways that gathering for chapel or having a sanctuary available for respite and reflection sustains our school communities, particularly in times of trial and confusion. And how much poorer would we be without school chaplains to center us, even as they challenge us to reflect even more deeply on how we might be and act in the world?

The author and journalist Eric Weiner has noted , “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.” We in Episcopal schools are lucky to have such places right in our own back yards: in our chapels, churches, gardens, labyrinths, quiet nooks, duck ponds and the many “thin places” between heaven and earth. We should not take them for granted but work hard to preserve their place in school life. We all need them, now more than ever.

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