I have heard talk of ‘thin spaces’ on earth – places where people have felt closer to the Divine (be that Heaven, God or whatever spiritual beliefs they have). By the seashore is one of my thin places, any seashore, but especially when it is really stormy or really calm waters. I find the sea and the shores around it very spiritual places – places I find rest, peace, calm, strength, places I can sense the Divine. As I look out to sea I am reminded of the vast history our waters have – so many millions of years before and beyond us – and still here, so close as I walk along the beaches or cliffs and appreciate the oceans and the creativity within them. Nature is full of thin spaces – places one can find food for their soul…..
The Celts were surrounded by nature and nature shaped their understanding about life (and death). It is therefore not surprising that their literature, poems, prayers and songs connected them intrinsically to the world around them. Their entire existence was within the natural thin places of planet earth. Nature shaped their days, nature informed their decision making, nature was powerful and to be respected, nature provided rest, refreshment and strength for one’s soul. We, as humans, are a part of nature – a brilliant, beautiful, complex, gifted part of nature – here as God’s stewards of this naturally beautiful and fragile world. Celtic spirituality illuminates this inter-connectedness humanity has with nature and encourages us to re-discover how nature can feed our soul, strengthen our will and guide our way.
In search of some beautiful shoreline on Skye, I ventured out to find a beach created from coral, near Claigan. The coral is created from coralline algae which form large beds offshore and in life they are a dark pink colour. The currents of the waters break up the skeletons of dead maerl which are washed ashore and bleached by the sun. You can see the beach appear in the distance, from the path and it is so bright it is like a beacon, inviting you to come and encounter it’s beauty. As I approached the beach I could feel myself getting excited and transfixed by the brightness of the sands ahead.
Once on the beach I realised that the ‘sand’ was actually made up of tiny bits of the coral itself, interspersed with masses of beautiful shells (and the odd colourful jelly-fish too!).
The waters were emerald green and so clear and calm. In between stopping Koda from eating everything he could see, I was able to capture on video the glistening calm waters before me.
It really was the most beautiful beach and waters I have ever seen – a touch of heaven on earth. And to think this coral had once been alive in the sea and now, even in death, was a blessing and a beauty to behold. Life, death and life beyond death is all here – a motif Christianity promotes and encourages us to think of the beauty beyond us….. Well, I discovered it here. This thin place was a much needed blessing for me, a space to be at one with such beauty, such creativity, such brightness and clear waters. A space where one’s soul can indeed be refreshed, restored, reassured of the divine nature within us all and beyond us, connecting us to the everlasting and reminding us we are part of what makes this world beautiful.
‘Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story of the Christ Who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory, gathered by the crystal sea.’ (Francis H. Rowley)
In the gallery below are some glimpses of this touch of heaven on earth for you to savour and enjoy. God bless x