A Sacred Thin Place


Have you ever been the outsider looking in?  

A place or time where everyone knew what to do or how to participate accept you.  Perhaps you felt uncertain or uncomfortable with not fitting into what was happening.  Or you might have been concerned about making a mistake or being seen as disrespectful.  We each have experienced that desire to be part of what is unfolding before us, yet we can’t for whatever reason ever really be an insider.

I experienced this last night as my fellow travelers and I from Central Baptist Theological Seminary made a pilgrimage to Shwe Dagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. (formerly Burma)  The sun was just setting when we arrived and the afternoon heat dissipated quickly to create a cool, breezy evening for us to take in this enormous holy Buddhist site.  The Shwe Dagon Pagoda has been here in Yangon for nearly two-thousand years.  It is a sacred, thin place where the Buddhist people can connect with Buddha individually and also collectively.  We saw hundreds, if not a thousands of people of all ages praying, giving offerings of water and money and spending quiet time gathered together while facing the pagoda.

Even though we see those main concepts of praying, giving offerings and spending time together in Christian churches in America, it was amazing to see the dedication of the people who gathered.  The dedication not only to Buddha, but each other.  Families came together holding hands, linking arms when walking and sitting together.  In America, we lose sight of how we can be more connected to others simply by touching.  Instead, we worry about who is invading our personal space or who is touching too much.  These people we observed extended themselves naturally to one another and you could feel the connection.  They didn’t come to the pagoda for a worship service that everyone sat and listened to on a Sunday morning.  It was a sharing of space where believers were cultivating their own worship and prayer.  No one was walked through an order of worship and there was no timeframe for the worship to end collectively.  Over the loud speaker, a monk was reading the works of Buddha while the people prayed, practiced their water or money offering and they shared space with one another.  

No one lead them, but themselves, which makes me wonder about how we feel lead to compare services and worship styles in America as it is more for entertaining us in the right space instead of individually being responsible for space we come to worship to pray, give offerings and share connection with other believers.

My experience has opened my eyes to new ways of practicing my individual faith and has created a desire in me to revel in not just Sunday morning worship being offered to me, but me being an offering when I worship at all times.  The challenge is to find a way to live into a thin, sacred space with God every day and not just weekly at a service, where I expect to be served instead of me only serving God.

I will be forever grateful for my time in Yangon and the chance to be on the outside observing an ancient world religion in it’s own setting and context.


About Kristin

I started this blog thing years ago in August 2011. I have made attempts to blog over the past three years of seminary, but it was like writing when drowning. But I have completed the bulk of my course work, so I know there is a God. I am currently in my capstone creation phase this fall. This allows me time to unravel a little and renew my passion for writing my ramblings. If you like what you read, share what it stirs in you or even share it with others. I write for you from me. A little about me... I have celebrated 16 years of wedded bliss and reality with my best friend for over 17 years. We have 3 wonderful kids that are all unique, amazing and different in their own way. Our first born is nearly a teenager. He loves talking, Scouts, reading, camping and science experiments. Our daughter is a decade old. She is our creative soul and a planner! She loves to spend time dancing, singing and nurturing/teaching her babydolls and us. She is very sweet to her brothers. Last but not least is our daring 6 year old red head boy. He broke the "Wooldridge Mold". He is the fastest runner, our busiest explorer, our deep philosopher and biggest joker, oh and he gives the best hugs. You know the long lingering kind that truly fuel your soul to sing. I have been a stay at home mom for nearly 13 years and I have found a groove that works for our family. (That grove doesn't mean I have it figured out. It just means I am good with asking for help and having my family help us survive.) Twelve years ago, I joined a local MOPS group and I have been the Coordinator for 1o years. This group has given me a chance to lead without working full time, support other women in my community and help refine my walk with God. I also attend Central Baptist Theological Seminary. I am pursuing a Masters of Divinity and loving every minute of it. I am currently working on my capstone project, which a ministry guide for the MOPS group I have lead for a decade. It will serve as a touchpoint for those in leadership and also as a sweet offering as my goodbye to meaningful work that touched every part of my life and taught me that I am called to pastor. My life isn't perfect as the paragraph above makes it seem. But I have traveled through those harder times and found strength and support through them. Hoping to use this blog as a spot to write my thoughts, feelings and stories as I keep on living life! God Bless you and keep you. We each need to remember the Divine is within each of us. Be kind to yourself and to others.

2 responses »

  1. Dear Kristin,
    Thank you for sharing this remarkable journey and your touching testimony.

    “Every human activity can be put at the service of the divine and of love. We should all exercise our gift to build community.”
    ― Jean Vanier, Community And Growth

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