Skip to main content

There’s something about a dreary day that wakes me up to the restlessness inside. The restlessness that is always there. I try to hide from it by overwhelming myself with busyness. But, it’s there, and it’s lurking. On those days, it seems like even the sky is weeping. So many things are difficult in the world. So many people are hurting. There is so much pain, and brokenness, and need.
I pile on the projects and the tasks so that I don’t have to deal with the pain that’s right in front of me. But the truth is, it’s still there, much like the shining of the stars during the middle of the day, as Barbara Brown Taylor once wisely noted.
But on days where everything slows down and the sun hides away, it’s like the curtain opens, and I can see everything. I can feel everything.


There are moments of clarity, moments of wakefulness, moments of crispness in the midst of an otherwise fuzzy world. Moments that some have called “thin places,” brief interruptions that remind us that there is far more than what we can see. And it is in those holy moments, those holy places, that our blinders are removed so that we can finally, and truly see.

Walking through the final stages of a loved one’s life.

Holding your new baby for the first time.

Losing something that mattered more to you than you ever realized.

Receiving encouragement from an unexpected place.

Hearing words of deep love and meaning from a loved one whose mind has been confused by disease.

Being knitted together by the Spirit in ways that transcend the obstacles that divide.

In those moments, we wake up. We see. We feel. The busyness of our lives is shown for what it is – a facade. The false front we put up to protect ourselves crumbles, and it is only then that the light gets in.


 In Richard Rohr’s brilliant book Falling Upward, he writes, “It has been said that 90 percent of people seem to live 90 percent of their lives on cruise control, which is to be unconscious.” [1] For a startling majority of our lives, we are not thinking, feeling, or being in any way that connects deeply to who we are. During that enormous amount of our time, we are disconnected from the self we really are. We are wrapped up in the external image, and not pouring into the internal.
But deep within us, there’s the seed of what’s true. There’s “desirous dissatisfaction,” as Rohr puts it that sends us out, and then draws us back in. And this seed, this true self originates from the radical union we had with God in the beginning. We are sent out by the Holy Spirit, and eventually we will return home, changed by the journey. But, many of us get stuck someplace along the way, distracting ourselves, busying ourselves, and forgetting ourselves.
We are like those James wrote about who see themselves in the mirror, but forget who they are as soon as we walk away from our reflections. [2] We see, and then forget. But in these holy moments, in these thin places, we see again. We remember. Life slows. In fact, sometimes it nearly grinds to a halt. We become vigilant, hyper-aware, and for that brief moment, we move in step with something – even Someone – who is beyond ourselves.
These moments are purer and truer than what we experience during the majority of our days. They show us the startling truth that what we see is not all there is. That awareness can be both joyful and painful, and in an effort to hide from the pain, we heap on the busyness, the distractions, the false pursuit of things that are temporary in order to avoid the pain. We are a homesick people, and rather than take the difficult journey home, we try to convince ourselves that we are already there.


The sun comes back out. The chill of autumn melts away for another day. And the busyness resumes, but only if we let it.


[1] Richard Rohr, Falling Upward, p. 90.
[2] James 1:23-24