Cursillo 116

There are places in our world where heaven and earth intersect and interlock. Where the gap between the two ‘realms’ of God’s very good creation are particularly thin. In these places we can sense God’s realm, God’s dimension, God’s space, while on this earth. In these places we can touch, taste, smell, and yes, even see God’s grace in very real ways. These intersecting and interlocking places are known as ‘thin places’.

Cursillo is a thin place. Don’t let the surroundings fool you. It is a beautiful place where we can see God’s hand in very ‘ordinary’ ways. Where architects and artists, electricians and plumbers, builders and contractors, et al, have very skillfully erected a place of solace. A place where we can come together and...



For a lot of us, Cursillo was hardly explained. On another side, every detail was revealed. And on another side again, some of us were told something in between.

But everyone got it wrong.

Oh, don’t misunderstand me. For those of us who were told great details about Cursillo, all of that was true. But no one, not a single person, told us of the thin place. There is no way that can be revealed. A thin place can only be experienced. Sure, someone could have said that Cursillo is a thin place, but that still wouldn’t have meant anything. No, thin places take us beyond our words. Thin places take us to the very fringe of human communication. And we know it. I am reminded of another time where the experience of a thin place was explained. Sort of. St Paul wrote:
This boasting will do no good, but I must go on. I will reluctantly tell about visions and revelations from the Lord. I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows. Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do know that I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell (2Corinthians 12.1-4).

I heard of another thin place while at Cursillo. We were told that every time there is a Eucharist, every time we go to the rail, and we place our hand on the other side, our hands are passing from this realm into that realm, from our space into God’s space. The alter rail becomes a thin place. And we receive in our hands a piece of God’s dimension and bring it back to our dimension. We bring a piece of God back into ourselves.

So the question comes rushes forward to meet us: Are thin places only at certain places in the world? I really don’t think so. I think thin places are all around us. The problem is that we have become desensitized to them. At Cursillo we become sensitive to thin places but can we experience them when we leave?

One of the things that was talked about on Sunday was the ‘Fourth Day’. That is, the day(s) after Cursillo. There will be times when the Cursillo experience seems so far away; the thin place has become ‘thick’. So, to help maintain that experience, that openness to the Sacred, there are small groups with fellow Cursillistas that meet weekly called Reunion Groups. As we gather and move in concert through the liturgy, the question is asked, ‘What was the moment in which I felt closest to Christ?’ To me, this question helps us be aware of God’s grace. With this in the forefront of our minds, we are given ‘eyes to see’ and ‘ears to hear’ what Christ is doing in our world. With these Reunion Groups we continue to train ourselves to recognize the thin places our gracious Father has put all around us. We are on the look out for the manifestation of Christ in our daily lives. And because we are expecting Christ to be there, we start to recognize other thin places. Perhaps in places we have never even imagined before.

But we aren’t just to recognize thin places. Part of the Christian vocation is to help bring thin places to this world. Like the rest of God’s very good creation, we long for the whole cosmos to become a thin place. And we aren’t alone. God’s dream is to one day put the world to rights, to finally bring justice and peace to this world. With that final act of God’s grace, heaven and earth will be forever married in an eternal thin place.
I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever’ (Revelation 21.2-4).

The ultimate thin place. Heaven and earth will one day become one. With that dream of God in our minds, the love of Jesus in our hearts, and the Holy Spirit enabling us to be the ‘word made flesh’, we are to look for ways that we can implement those thin places, that dream, more and more.

Thin places. Places that are ‘so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words’. That is Cursillo. That is my Cursillo. Cursillo 116.

Peace be with you.



eric said…
I think we have fat senses: fat fingers - hard to touch the thin places all around us, fat tongues - unable to get the words out; and fat heads - fighting to make outselves understood and to understand others. We all just need a diet, maybe a bit of fasting, and plenty of spiritual exercise. We'll be back in shape in no time... Cursillo was just a no-fat zone :-)
Odysseus said…
Well, I certainly know about the 'fat heads' part! The goal, then, is to make all of creation a 'no-fat zone'. Thanks for the comment, Eric.
Ted M. Gossard said…
Yes. This reminds me of our DeColores up here. Must be same kind of idea and retreat, and definitely it was experience in thin places that weekend.

I like your challenge for us to bring that or work towards that for our world here and now. Of course it has to begin or be beginning with us.
[...] 6, 2008 I have written before about thin places.  One of my longings has been to find ways of creating thin places else where.  Thin places, as [...]

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