Thin places

Daily Reading, May 11

Can we say it is God’s home? I prefer to perceive it “through a glass darkly” as what I might call God’s holiest of holies. What is my connection, if any, to heaven? I’ve seen glimpses of it only by eyes of faith. I’ve felt the presence—never in a merely logical way—in thin places or passages that I’ve encountered on occasion between the visible world and—what? Greater reality? God’s love and power? Awareness of the holy?

Ten days before her ninety-ninth birthday, my mother lay dying. I was with her in the convalescent hospital where she’d resided for the past four-plus years. Beatrice appeared to be unconscious. I held her limp hand in mine.

Suddenly, a change occurred. Her hand gripped mine with fierce strength. Now her eyes opened, staring directly into mine with a determination, even a passion, that was startling. I grasped her hand, held her gaze. Then, after a moment, her eyes closed. Shortly her grip wavered and let go.

I knew Beatrice had left and gone to heaven. I could almost follow her journey into what seemed to be light. Her departure was not passive, nor had her life been. In Beatrice there burned an intensity. Born in 1898, she had always lived in what used to be referred to as “a man’s world.” While accepting its Spartan rules, she kept inviolate a part of her life that was a “secret garden.” So, as a single mom who had to work, she did so during her days. But, in her private time, she painted and sketched and gardened. Fame did not touch her; she had no interest in it. Her honesty could be almost shocking in its directness. She remained open to life, clearly honoring the moment at hand.

Being with Mother on the occasion—at the very moment—of her journey’s end here, and the start of her journey to heaven, was a deeply touching revelation of God’s mercy, healing, and treasured gift of this thin place close to heaven.

From “Moments in Thin Places” by Malcolm Boyd, in Heaven, edited by Roger Ferlo. A Seabury Book from Church Publishing. Copyright © 2007. Used by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY.

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