My thin place

Luang Prabang is a special place.

I’ve always known that.

But, Luang Prabang at this time of year…
…well, it then becomes a thin place.

Thin places.

A friend of mine just recently introduced me to the phrase. After being in Luang Prabang, Laos, for some time, we were both marveling at the special quality of it. The tranquility. The natural beauty. The softness. The je ne sais quoi.

It’s hard to describe.

So, just in time, I’ve been given a decription. Accorrding to an online article in the NY Times (wonderful, btw), thin places are those where heaven and earth come closer together.
In thin places, we become our more essential selves. Therefore, it is an individual discovery.

There are no criteria, no judgement, no exclusiveness. For one person, it may be sitting in dimness on a pew in an old church, for another it may be the magnitude of Nature at the peak of a mountain. It can be a garden, a town square, a shore, a bar.

Chances are you may have found your own thin place already.

This year, October 31st marks the end of Buddhist lent. For a couple of nights (the 30th and 31st) the town celebrates through Boun Lai Heu Fai or Festival of Lights. Throughout several days, all the temples in town have prepared for the festivity by decorating with paper lanterns and elaborate bamboo boats.

Color hangs on a string from tree to tree, wall to wall, creating a labrynth of glowing orbs. Made from thin bamboo frames, Buddhist monks and novices craft petals, stars, even playful forms like sharks and a Laos Airlines plane. Each wat has its own decorated facade.

Walking around this at night is nothing short of magic. Candles cast golden glows on Buddha statues as brightly robed monks light each lantern. Apart from the occasional sounds of delight from children, there is a tangible stillness here.

A distinct moment for me happened at Chum Khong Wat:
I followed the lantern path to the front of the wat and listened with other monks the unusual melody of a string instrument being played. Looking up above rooftops were large, white lanterns sent to the heavens with the past let go of those who set them aflame. The moon, perfect and round watched too, its light casting shadows in the night. These sights and sounds swirled slowly and I found myself happy.

This is my thin place.

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12 comments
  1. Sounds completely romantic and awe inspiring. I can imagine you being enchanted and just completely at ease. Thanks for sharing. Mexico City … not so much my thin place … but a nice stop along the way :)

  2. Rick said:

    Filthy. We have to visit you some day.

  3. such a beautiful post….and such a lovely thin place. i’m going to have to give some thought to where mine is. my husband’s is at the peak of a mountain, right up against the sky.

    hope you are wonderful. xo. jamy

  4. i’ve rarely been at the peak of a mountain but i can imagine it would be wondrous. thanks for stopping by, Jamy. when you think of your thin place share it here. :)

  5. it is both those things. hope to get you over here sometime, friend.

  6. tina said:

    Beautiful post, C… You seem so far away, yet so near. I think it’s because a ‘thin place’ (love that btw) can be translated into the blogging world too. Simply the blogs you connect with. x

  7. I just learned something new! I never heard of the expression “a thin place”. Thank you :)

    Mine is more of a moment than a place… when my husband, my cat and I are sprawled together on the couch in total relaxation and I can hear all our breaths … I am somewhere between here and heaven.

    Xx.

  8. Aw…I can totally picture that, Holly. I like it very much. Always nice to have you chime in.

  9. I completely agree, Tina. I like that connection to the blogging world as well. Thank you for sharing yourself here. Nice to have friends around during this transition.

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