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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

IWSG November 2019 - Thin Places

It's IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader.  Co-hosts for the November posting of the IWSG are Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie.  To find a list of other contributors and to link to their posts, click here.

This month's optional question: What's the strangest thing you've ever googled in researching a story?

For my novel, This Side of Here, I researched “thin places” which according to Celtic folklore, are  locations in which the veil between our world and the ever after is well, thin. Pretty universally, thin places are considered to be mystical settings that touch the heart, where a communication, a depth of feeling, or connection between now and what has gone before is more easily attained. There’s an old Celtic proverb that says something like, heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in the thin places that distance is even smaller. Some people consider thin places spiritual, closer to God. In my mind, a thin place can be where you are your truest self, a place in which you are more open, in tune with universal messages, accepting of energy vibrations or intuitions. 

My story contains ethereal elements and the idea of thin places plays a role, which may or may not have led to the following…

In 2015, after querying This Side of Here and receiving a fair bit of interest but no bites, I picked it up again after a two-year hold and began a full-on edit. Around the same time, my husband and I took a trip to Ireland with my sister and brother-in-law. One morning while at the beginning of a drive around the Ring of Kerry, we pulled over at a historic sight, this one an old stone famine hut. While visiting  an exact location where the wretched poverty, starvation and pain suffered by the Irish during the potato famine occurred, let’s just say my emotions were engaged. Perhaps, I had thin places on the brain, but when I wandered the land, high on a slope overlooking the vast grey ocean, I was consumed by a longing, a yearning if you will, a sense of closeness to my ancestors who took a fateful trip across the ocean in 1849. I stood for a long time, trying to absorb the aura around me until my companions called me. Even then, I was reluctant to return to the car. 

We saw so much more of Ireland on that trip, and yet when I return there in my mind, I always start with those few minutes I stood above the sea, feeling as if I was suddenly imbued with every thought and heartache that had ever been felt in that space. 

It wasn’t my plan that our visit would turn into a research trip. Google had provided more than enough reading on thin places. But until I stood on the edge of the world in another country I had no idea how powerfully gut-wrenching it could be to encounter one.  

Have you ever heard of thin places? Have you ever experienced one? What was  it like?