Friday, February 10, 2006

C'est Moi

"When you are ruled by curiosity. . . you are rarely affronted."

The quote is from The Thin Place, a novel by Kathryn Davis reviewed in The New York Times last Sunday. I read the review because I recognized the title. The Celts came up with the term "thin place" to describe a locale, on the planet or in the human consciousness, where physical and spiritual worlds brush against one another. Next summer I am going to Iona, a small island off the west coast of Scotland and for fifteen centuries considered by many to be one of the "thin places" on the planet.

It seems to me that I have set foot on rather a number of thin places, which tells me that the designation is more a state of mind than one of latitutude and longitude.

What do you see? What do you hope to see?

I never much liked The Chronicles of Narnia. A dutiful mother, I read every single one of them out loud to my children one summer. (Okay, so I skipped a few paragraphs here and there.) It was a challenge; science fiction, fairy tales, extended allegory -- not my style. (So why, dear girl, are you reading both The Sparrow and Outlander at present? See first sentence above.) But there was one character in Narnia whom I loved -- little Reppicheep, the brave mouse commander, last seen determindedly heading toward the unknown horizon.

When you hope to see the next thing, you are not guaranteed a happy ending. But you have to see it anyway.

It's been nearly a year since my stepmother died. A tiny hospital room in Cincinnati can be a thin, thin place -- although my observation at 4:00 a.m. was that no one else seemed aware of that.

I have decided, at 52, to count it as good fortune that thin places stretch before my unsteady feet with unnerving frequency.

And likewise, good fortune that I am spared the certainty and judgmental acumen that mark those less curious.

"When you are ruled by curiousity. . . you are rarely affronted." The reviewer goes on to say, in a statement that makes sense in the context of her piece, that that statement "sounds very doglike."

I was reading the paper outside. I came into the house, looked at the dog, and said, "You and me, babe."


Lisa :-] said...

"Sounds very doglike?" What the hell does that mean????

Long ago I realized, and have said many times, that if there is a thinness in the veil betweeen the temporal and the spiritual world, it is nowhere near me. I just am NOT a sensitive. Which is not to say I don't believe that there are thin places, or that they don't fascinate me. I just think it's something you are born with---the ability to connect with the spirit world. And I..was not.

Theresa Williams said...

I'm fascinated by this veil between worlds. I love it when I get a fleeting glimpse of "the other side." That is what I sometimes call epiphany.

Vicky said...

You and me both, Robin. I love the slipping of the veil that affords us a glimpse of what is so much bigger than here.

I believe you will experience much on Iona. And you are preparing yourself well.

Gannet Girl said...

Lisa, I take it to mean that dogs are, as we know, unflaggingly curious, and seldom perturbed or personally offended by what they learn. As opposed to most of us who are usually satisfied with what we already know and, if we do ask a question, are often judgmental and defensive in response to the answer.

Wenda said...

What a wonderful adventure you have ahead of you. My trip to Scotland didn't include Iona because I didn't then have the same curiosity that I now have of spirituality. Perhaps I will get to Scotland again.

Meanwhile, the Kathryn Davis quote was just what I needed to hear yesterday, and I took it in the context of feeling curious about the actions and behaviours of others, action that might otherwise affront us because we have at some level decided and judged what they mean about the other or ourselves or both.

beths front porch said...

The "thin place." I had not heard of that before. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. These are places of mystery and great power and ambiguity to me, a source of magic, perhaps. I like your website! I've bookmarked it and will be back. Thanks for visiting mine, too! ~Beth

Kathryn said...

I am glad that you have decided to regard your association with the thin places as fortunate. Your observation that it is more attitude than latitude is true beyond words.

I have added this book to my very long reading list and consider it an auspicious omen that the author spells her name the way I spell mine.

Wonderful journal entry - made me feel, made me think, and made me curious!

peripateticpolarbear said...

Ooh, I'm so jealous of your Iona adventure....have always wanted to go....

emmapeelDallas said...

I like this, and I was reminded that a couple of light years ago, when I was applying to the University of Chicago, one of the questions on the application was, "Why should you be admitted to the U of C?" I wrote a couple of paragraphs, beginning with, "Because, like Alice in Through the Looking Glass, I find myself becoming curiouser and curiouser..."

And they must have liked that answer, because they admitted me.


Paul said...

How to to prepare...Idylls of the King...Mists of Avalon...Macbeth...Van Morrison's Listen to the Lion

Gannet Girl said...

OK, Paul, you lost me -- altho I am now going to be late to class since I was googling the lyrics to Listen to the Lion and I think I might have the idea - But I don't have any MB quotes handy.