I was lucky enough this past week to sit in on a wonderful discussion with a good friend and former professor of mine. Based on the title of this post you might think that we were discussing weight loss, but you could not be further from the truth. The talk itself revolved around those unexplainable moments in our lives, often referred to as 'thin moments', when the barrier between our everyday reality and a larger, more universal reality is shattered. Something cracks through the haze of our everyday perceptions and the veil of illusion is lifted from our eyes. In an instant we see things as they actually are in the present moment.
The term thin moment comes from a small island off the western coast of Scotland called Iona. This place has been long revered as a sacred place, and is only one of many geographical locations or thin places in the world, where people more easily experience thin moments. Contemporary poet Sharlande Sledge gives this description:
Thin places, the Celts call this space,
Both seen and unseen,
Where the door between the world
And the next is cracked open for a moment
And the light is not all on the other side.
Although this terminology can be used to refer to places of pilgrimage, it can also be used to refer to those times in our lives when the demarcation between the concrete realities we hold fast to and the possibilities of a greater truth converge. Thin moments are essentially those experiences when we feel in our bones that we are part of something much larger than what our everyday thought processes dictate. Our notions of self disappear briefly, and we become present to the moment as it unfolds before us; an expanded form of conscious awareness.
Thin moments can be rare indeed. When you experience one you dont soon forget it. Having an awareness of what loosely constitutes such moments can help you more readily recognize them when they appear in your life. There is no prescription for their occurrence. You could be staring into your babys eyes for the first time, standing alone taking in the most amazing view you have ever seen, or getting lost in the music while playing your guitar. Its during these times we lose ourselves in the flow of the moment and be present to the unfolding.
Writer Bernard Berenson described the experience of thin moments as Itness:
"It was a morning in early summer. A silver haze shimmered and trembled over the lime trees. The air was laden with their fragrance. The temperature was like a caress. I remember-I need not recall- that I climbed up a tree stump and felt suddenly immersed in Itness. I did not call it by that name. I had no need for words. It and I were one..."
As superintendents, we have a unique experience with regards to nature and the thin moments the natural world can afford us. We are fortunate enough to be outdoors a great deal of the time which grants us many opportunities to connect with these moments. Perhaps it happens while taking in a sunrise over a dew draped fairway, seeing newborn eaglets flying for the first time, or looking out across the course from your favorite perch and watching your crew working together in fluid motion like a championship caliber sports team.
These moments are there when we are open and mindful enough to recognize their presence, and stop and soak them in.