I have a very large garden pot on my patio that years ago I fashioned into a fountain filled with goldfish. I love the sound water and the combination of hearing the gentle splash of the fountain and the activity of watching my graceful fish make their way around this large bowl is very soothing. What I have learned over the last ten years about my goldfish is that they are very tough, don’t require a lot of care and will grow to the size of their environment. Goldfish can also withstand extreme temperature changes which, given our recent cold snap, is a wonderful adaptive quality for survival.
Over the last two weeks we have had temperatures in the teens at night and no higher than 35 during the day. As my grandfather would say it’s been “colder than a well digger’s ass” and my fountain has a layer of ice four inches thick over it with my “coldfish” below searching for the “thin places” in the ice to blow fish bubbles.
There is a Celtic saying that Heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in “thin places” that distance is even shorter. I have written recently that my wife and I have been attending a mission church for the homeless, this after spending 30 years in an affluent, white, clean and very sterile church.
After 30 years I needed a change, I needed to feel. I needed to see faces unlike my own. I needed to experience community, the real community, not just the white doctors and lawyers and the bank vice presidents, but the people who work at McDonald’s, the people who keep their entire world in a trash bag, the people who are one incident or one health issue away from living on the street. I needed to find a thin place in my city, a place that not only my money, but my heart and my efforts could make a difference in someone’s life and allow them to make a difference in mine.
When I walked out of church yesterday I noticed several trees in the parking lot decorated with scarfs, gloves and toboggans. Attached to each was a note which read “I am not lost, if you need me, take me”. It was 28 degrees outside when I got in my car. I would well imagine these items, for someone in real need of them, would qualify this little mission church as that thin place between heaven and earth, a place where the ice is broken or at least cracked, a place where someone can not only get a meal and some warmth but take a breath, blow some bubbles if only for a moment.
If you don’t have a thin place in your community maybe you could help create one. If you already have one certainly you can support it with your money, your time and most importantly your heart. Let the dimwits in Washington crow and pat themselves on the back about tax cuts, the stock market, and for “being, like, really smart” (yes a real tweet Saturday from the king dimwit himself). They aren’t and won’t create thin places between Heaven and earth only you and I will.