Prominent in Celtic Spirituality is the concept of “thin places.” These are locations where the heavens meet earth: where the holy is incarnated “on the ground” in the everyday world; where the sacred is unmistakably permeates our experience.
Thin places can be actual geographic spots, or seasons of time, or brief glimpses. Both in the ancient world and in our current age, the most commonplace thin place is that of the threshold –that strip of wood or metal or stone that forms the bottom of a doorway and must be crossed to enter a building, whether it be home or a workplace or church or wherever.
“Thin places” have a place at New Year’s. And I’m not referring to the threshold of gyms as gym owners celebrate their most wonderful time of the year, with some seeing as high an increase in membership as 50%. I’m talking about this time of year as a threshold crossing into a new segment of time: crossing from 2019 to 2020.
Bidding farewell to the old year, and entering the New Year is best done at the threshold. My Grandad would do this physically every Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve in Scotland); opening the heavy front door to let the old year out and the new year in, and pausing at the step. At the threshold is a good time for a pause: –not jumping over the line as quickly as possible; not rushing onward into the middle of what is new, but taking a spell of time in reflection; pausing to give thanks, pausing to grieve; pausing to dream, pausing to pause at the threshold. Perhaps even more so at the beginning of a new decade –casting our minds back ten years; looking ahead to the block of time which will be marked by a new decade.
Similar to Christmas, Celtic New Year’s is not one day only, but rather a season. For the ancient Celts New Year’s lasted until February 1st which marked the end of winter (One can only hope in New England!) I invite you to be on the threshold for the month of January, pausing.
Blessings to you and yours as we pause on the threshold,
And as my Gaelic-speaking family members say, Bliadhna Mhath Ùr (phonetic approximation: blee-una va oor).
See you in church,