A Thin Silence is a body of work that comes out of my experience living at the L’Abri communities in England and Sweden. L’Abri is French for “the shelter” and is a place where people of all ages and nationalities come for rest and study in a shared community life with others. It is a “thin place” to use an old Celtic expression – a place where the veil between heaven and earth is almost transparent, a place where pilgrims go to wrestle with God and ask the tough questions that many are otherwise afraid to ask.
There is a story in the Hebrew Scriptures about expecting God to be revealed in a dramatic gesture like an earthquake or a fire, but instead finding that God reveals himself in “a low whisper, a thin silence.” This is the lesson of L’Abri. Those who come here are hoping for a grand redemption from personal demons, but instead find God in the beauty of the little things, like chores and shared meals. In a world of individualism and isolationism, many are seeking a sense of belonging. Immersing oneself in the rhythm of a life together can provide a needed contrast from the lonely wanderlust of our rootless contemporary society. Those of us who make the pilgrimage to a place like this discover a new sense of home, a place where we can slow down, stop doing and start being.