Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Thin Places

I get emails from good friends from time to time.  Usually these are personal emails that are often asking where we are fishing next, or when I am coming to visit.  Once in a while these are emails that give me an update from a company that they have started.  Recently I received an email from the small company of a friend that I have known since Pre-School.  He is a founder of Fever Pursuit, a company that will set you up with the hunting or fishing trip of a lifetime.  If you have time, you should check them out.  Kasey is a great guy and will work hard to get you set up with what you need.

This particular email caught my eye for a couple reasons. One, because Kasey's dad, one of the best saltwater anglers I know, has now decided to become a full-time guide.  If you are wanting to hook into some reds along the Texas Coast, this is your guy.  But the email really caught my attention when Kasey wrote about Thin Places.  Here is a snipit of what he wrote:
Have you ever stopped to admire and appreciate those thin places in life? A thin place can be defined as a place where you feel as if you are close to God...In the words of singer-songwriter Guy Clark, "The South Coast of Texas is a thin slice of life, It's salty and hard, it is stern as a knife."  Although I am not convinced Clark was speaking of proximity to God, I would have to agree the South Coast of Texas is a thin slice of life!
I do love me some South Texas Coast, but my thin place is somewhere different.  I think everyone's is.  In order to find your's we need to figure out exactly what a thin place is.

As Kasey said, "A thin place can be defined as a place where you feel as if you are close to God."  I like to "define" (if you can) a thin place as a place where the boundary between Heaven and Earth is especially thin. Somewhere that blocks out all worldly problems you may have, actually clears your mind, and allows you to be in the presence of God.  Those of you who follow Fish Tattoo probably know that I am a Christian, so that is how I define a thin place, but I am not forcing you to follow Jesus, nor will I say that only someone who is a Christian can experience this feeling.  You will know the feeling of a thin place when you experience that rush of joyful, peaceful emotions.

My thin places tend to be solitary places along a remote stretch of River.  Usually me alone, drifting with a fly rod, often forgetting to cast.  I don't care about catching fish at that moment.  Maybe because those are the areas that I stop worrying about paying bills, work emails, or how I am ever going to have enough time to do what "has" to get done.  My mind is finally free to focus on the thoughts of creation. There I find love.  There I find peace.  That is a thin place.

I think Norman Maclean often found similar waters as his thin place.  I believe the waters washed his worldly worries away.  I believe John the Baptist found rivers as his thin place.  I know I find these places to be thin.

I paddle to fish.  I fish for the challenge, the pleasure, the relaxation.  I kayak fish for camaraderie, for fun, and sometimes for food.  Sometimes.  Sometimes these thin places are what I seek.  Maybe these are times that my soul is being guided to a place without boundary, where Heaven and Earth touch, where I can clear my mind and talk to God.  Maybe fishing is just the vessel that brings me to where I ultimately need to go.

I challenge you.  Find your thin place.  Define it, decide where it is, what it is and why you go there.  Your thin place might not be around water, heck...it might not be in nature, but I bet it is.

What is your thin place?

Other posts you might enjoy:
Home Waters
Beautiful, Small Independence


  1. I grew up fishing and hiking and did it as often as possible. I'd fish in canals, the rio grande and small drainage ponds. In el paso Texas there's not much water let alone fish. It's funny how I went my entire childhood going back to certain places where I knew there wasn't fish let alone anything capable of living in water that polluted. Some of these places weren't places kids should be. In el paso, where you find open space and water you often find, death , drugs, trash and homeless people. I remember the smell of the rio grande as if I were sitting on the bank today. It was dirty, and black at times. It smelled of death and sin. I was always amazed with water and was eager to find books on the rio grande and how it looked in other places. I'd see pictures of the mighty Rio up north in Colorado. I found amazing photos ofmit down south in Big Bend.. I wondered as a kid why the river was so dirty throughout it's entire stretch of El Paso and Juarez. I remember thinking to myself one day, " these waters represent my city , my people and all that goes on here, and I must leave". I kept that promise to myself and I left.. At 19 I started traveling and everywhere God took me I always seaked out water. I'd study maps of ruidoso, phoenix, California, Austin, san Antonio, and find a non traditional route to get to these places id mark on these maps. I'd hike, kayak drive sometimes swim to these spots. I felt those waters of all the beautiful places I visited gave me life, purpose and direction. I know hike and fish a river about once a week. Yes, that's my thin place. Sometimes I'm so eager to get there I take nothing and just drive there and start hiking. I now realize that fishing too has been my vessel to my thin place. It has been my entire life. The feeling I got from fishing and relexing by those dirty waters as a kid is no different then the one I get on the banks of the majestic Guadalupe. I told myself I needed to find cleaner spaces with more trees and wildlife. And while those factors do make your thin place more majestic, they are not necessary. I now know that all I was chasing was something that was there the whole time.. I go and sit at my thn place often.. I too forget to cast I even forget to breathe at times as imstare into the Sun coming down behind a 200 foot canyon. Some say it's loud out there where I go. Turkeys, birds, water,trees rustling in the wind.. I never notice. It's the quietest place I've ever been and it's my thin place. When I'm there I understand how the world works, how water and rivers work and what can happen when you don't respect the gifts god made. El paso didn't earn that river nor do they deserve it but it didn't keep me from making it my thin place. My thin place remains the same throughout my life. The only difference is that I understand it now and am rewarded with fish, scenery, sound and a sky so thin you can't tell where the sky ends and heaven begins.

    1. Thanks for sharing you story. I always love reading responses like this. I hope you are able to visit your places as much as possible.

  2. I enjoyed this read. I realize I have my own thin places but I don't visit them near enough. Thank you.

    1. Thanks for reading, and I am glad you enjoyed this. I think we all need to make more time to visit our thin places.

  3. Pat, Thanks for writing this up. I too have been discovering the thin places lately. My IT life in the big city of Austin has turned into a rat race that I find very grevious. I often feel like a hound dog that is compelled to chase cars for hours at a time. It was fun at one point when it was optional, but now with a wife, a house, and bills it is no longer optional. So I have started to seek out some quiet time with my God at the thin places you've mentioned.

    Often I get frustrated with my "ability" to snarl my line, catch trees, and sometimes not catching fish (when my wife does!). Your article has reminded me that the main reason for heading out to the lakes and rivers is not just to catch fish, but to enjoy the creation that God has set before us.

    I passed this article to my Dad as I'm sure he will link to it on his web site. He has a page dedicated specifically to quiet places and this fits very much. His Quiet Place page is: http://www.blessedquietness.com/journal/quietplace.htm

    Thanks again for reminding us of our priorities.