Written by:
B.T. Gilligan

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The Dual Reality of Life

A few years ago, my dad survived cancer, giving him a new lease on life. To celebrate, my dad, brother and I started a new tradition: a yearly guy’s week of skiing in Colorado. We have skied Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, and the world famous Vail mountains. Now that we are all grown and live all over the country, the three of us spend the week reconnecting, hanging out and of course skiing some of the best mountains in the world.

Standing at the top of these mountains taught me that there are two realities. Looking out over the landscape and seeing mountains that seemingly touch the heavens, there is the reality of the beauty of the world that God made. Beautiful, untouched, and exactly as God intended it to be. Everything in this reality is pristine, breathtaking, and absolutely amazing!

There is an interplay between beauty and absolute terror that cannot be avoided.

The view from the top of those mountains also presents a very different reality - a steep, unforgiving, bumpy, dangerous reality filled with challenges, turns, and trees. Looking down the hill and realizing that the only way down is with two pieces of wood strapped to my feet (and that I chose this) is terrifying. The fact that going down the mountain could be the last thing I do is a thought that frequently goes through my mind. To say this reality fills me with terror and makes me want to run away and hide in our hotel room is not an understatement.

Being on the mountain is living in these two realities at the exact same time. There is this interplay between beauty and absolute terror that cannot be avoided. What I have found is that the only way to overcome the fear associated with the reality I chose is to find the place where the reality God created meets the reality of the present situation.

On the slopes it means seeing my dad and my little brother flying down the hill next to me, knowing that we are looking out for each other and pushing each other to take it to the next level. In life it means looking around and seeing where God’s intentions for creation intersects with the way it is now.

There are times in life when we find ourselves looking out and seeing a reality that makes us want to cry and run away. It is in those situations when we must find the spaces where God’s reality breaks in to our fear soaked reality.

In whatever we do, it is important to find those spots where God’s perfection breaks through into our current situation. The ancient Celtic monks called these places “thin spots.”

Maybe that means we go to a job we don’t like because our kids need us to provide. Or perhaps it means suffering through that boring college class because the place where God has called us requires that degree. In whatever we do, it is important to find those spots where God’s perfection breaks through into our current situation. The ancient Celtic monks called these places “thin spots,” places where the separation between God and humanity seemed to vanish. These places served as valuable visual and tangible recognitions of God’s movement in this world. They give us hope to go on and strength to walk through the current reality.

So then, may you find the thin spots and may they remind you that God is always with you. May you know that in the hard times of life, there is another reality, beautiful and unblemished and that God is with us in both realities.

Discussion question: Talk about a time when you found a “thin-spot” and how it helped you in life.