Have you ever experienced a place where the sense of holiness was so overwhelming that you felt compelled to follow the Biblical injunction to “take off your sandals; you stand on Holy ground”? Those places are called “thin places” – where heaven is so close that it seems to touch the present. Holiness radiates in those moments. The Holy of Holies was a “thin place” where God chose to reside with His people. Many of the magnificent cathedrals provide worshipers with the sense of His presence where sacred images in the stained-glass windows and magnificent icons surrounding the altar magnify the holiness of the moment.

According to Old Testament Scholar John H Walton in The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, the creation story in Genesis one is temple language where God is creating God’s temple. In Acts 7:48-50 where Stephen responds to the High Priest’s question, he said, ‘“The Most High, however, does not live in shrines made by human hands.” The prophet [Isa 66:1-2] put it like this:

‘Heaven is my throne, and earth my footstool!

What sort of house will you build me, says the Lord,

Or what place will you give me to rest in?

My own hand made all these, did it not?’”

Thin places may be more common than some realize, including personal moments where spirit touches spirit. When you release your mind and senses, you can focus on God’s presence allowing God, in some mystical way, to touch your very soul. I have felt that when looking at the spectacular night sky; when a glorious sunset causes me to fall to my knees in praise; when walking in an old-growth forest on the damp humus soil and knowing that the surrounding trees were present when the first Europeans arrived in the New World. Do those ancient ones have a memory in some mysterious way? Were they aware of the centuries of native people’s presence who walked this very trail? Do they, with their uplifted branches swaying in the wind, sense the Creator’s presence? Do they continue to offer praise to their Creator? Did the “old ones” now in South Whidbey State Park hear the approaching chainsaws of the last old growth loggers and feel the loving hands of the local protesters who wrapped their arms around the trees and eventually saved the small sacred stand that remains? Do you know that less than one tenth of one percent of the forests below 1000 feet elevation in Western Washington are now old growth? A tree farm is like a tall corn field. There is something missing. The majesty of the old growth; the smell of deep moist humus; the call of the old-growth forest birds…. Tree farms are not thin places. If you have not walked Wilbert Trail’s living cathedral in South Whidbey State Park, take the time. You, too, may find a thin place there where you find it necessary to take off your shoes – if you open yourself to the presence of your Lord and listen.

Thanks for listening.

-Joe Sheldon

Direct comments to [email protected]

If you would like to receive additional information on Creation care, notices of special events, Creation walks I lead, etc. please contact me at the above address and I will add you to my e-mail list. I am planning a walk at South Whidbey State Park where some trees are over 500 years old. If you are interested in joining me, please let me know.