Finding Our Own “Present” Places


Dear Reader:

One of the most poignant remarks made about the family Christmas Eve gathering this year was made by Stephanie when she dropped off (unknowingly to me) Christmas presents. When I went on her FACEBOOK site to thank her she later responded with this sweet observation as she parked the car, watched the grandchildren running back and forth across the porch, squealing while throwing snowballs and chasing each other…

“It warmed my heart to see your home filled with the laughter of your grandchildren.”

I had done it…Christmas was a success if someone coming to the house picked up on the love within. The remark just made my Christmas “warming my heart too.”

Haven’t we all experienced that same happy feeling and observation (for someone else) like sweet Stephanie did. I remember experiencing this when I would walk in the neighborhood (New Year’s resolution to get back on it) and get glimpses (perhaps) a family cook-out gathering going on and catch snippets of conversations between maybe a child and grandfather…and it warmed my heart too….it was reassuring that with love like that the world is not lost…it is just fine. There is something so enticing about hearing peals of laughter from children playing.

When Anne and I went to Ireland three summers ago…the tourist guidebooks would list “sacred places” we could visit. We soon realized that different location spots in Ireland spoke to us together and/or separately. Finding one’s own special sacred ground is extremely individualized and has nothing to do (necessarily) with historical landmarks.  It has everything to do with our heightened perceptions.

This devotional message addresses why designated “sacred places” or “Holy Ground” doesn’t affect everyone the same way. *Thanks Anne for sharing this devotional with us.

“Thin Places” (Still/Speaking Daily Devotional) Richard L. Floyd

“Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!'” – Genesis 28: 16

In Jacob’s dream he sees a stairway to heaven with angels ascending and descending it. He named the place Bethel, “the place of God.” The ancient Celts called such spots “thin places,” where the distance between heaven and earth , such as Bethel, or a dusty road on the way to Damascus. collapses.

Thin places can be famous holy spots such as the Isle of Iona or the Cathedral de Notre Dame, but more often than not they are ordinary places.

You can search for thin places, but, as with Jacob, it is more likely that they will find you.

Such unexpected encounters with the Holy seem to happen in times of crisis: Jacob running away from home, Saul on his way to persecute the church.

Is it the place itself that allows for these glimpses of the advent of God? Or is it some special state of mind and heart? Either way there are times and places when the ordinarily reliable distinction between heaven and earth gets erased.

Even if we see no burning bush or ladder to heaven, nor hear the voice of Jesus, we are no less certain that we have come upon a thin place, and can say, as Jacob did, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!”

Keep us alive and alert, O God, in all places and times, that we may not miss the moments of your visitation.

ddRickFloyd2013.jpg ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Richard L. Floyd is Pastor Emeritus of First Church of Christ (UCC) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. A writer and author, his most recent publications are Romans, Parts 1 and 2 (with Michael S. Bennett), new titles in the “Listen Up!” Bible Study Series. He blogs at


Suddenly it came to me that the little Christmas Wreath bench that called me over to it to come, sit, and inhale the peace of Christmas morning before returning to all the festivities was my “Holy Place” and my eyes were open and drawn to it. God is so amazing…giving us what we need when we need it.


So until tomorrow…Help us Father be visually conscious of Your Presence calling us to stop, chat, pray and listen for You to show us the Way!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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3 Responses to Finding Our Own “Present” Places

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    Oh this will be something that I will remember…thin places ….Clyde talked a lot about being on holy ground when he would visit people who were “crossing the bar”…so peaceful and holy…

    On Dec 28, 2016 6:03 AM, “Chapel of Hope Stories” wrote:

    > Becky Dingle posted: ” Dear Reader: One of the most poignant remarks made > about the family Christmas Eve gathering this year was made by Stephanie > when she dropped off (unknowingly to me) Christmas presents. When I went on > her FACEBOOK site to thank her she later respond” >


  2. Becky Dingle says:

    “Crossing the bar” ….so pretty.


  3. ambikasur says:

    I remember you had written a blog on Thin Places around 3-4 years ago, Becky… After a long time I finally get to read it again… Thanks for sharing Becky… Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas… Loads of love n prayers…


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