Thin Places: a memoir, by Mary DeMuth

“The Celts define a thin place as a place where heaven and the physical world collide, one of those serendipitous territories where eternity and the mundane meet.  Thin describes the membrane between the two worlds, like a piece of vellum, where we see a holy glimpse of the eternal–not in digital clarity, but clear enough to discern what lies beyond.” [p. 11]

The sky seemed a giant gunmetal smudge as I moved through campus that spring; the decision had been made and my heart leapt in its cage at the thought of seeing summer plans turn into reality.  Never had I felt such certainty–such a sense of calling as when I left to spend three months in Peru working with the poor and vulnerable.  God had spoken so clearly and purposefully.  His voice, undeniable.  My face, a burst of joy; sunshine radiating off gray clouds.

That was a thin place for me.

The Celtic definition Mary shares in her introduction brings to mind more of those wonderful “holy glimpses of the eternal,” although they are sparse and sprinkled scantily across calendar pages that comprise years of my life.  And as I read through Thin Places, I wondered, How many more have there been?  How many times have I failed to see God breathing so closely?

The gift of this book, and I do believe it is a gift, is Mary’s passionate search for the thin places of her life, and her ability to turn those places round and round, looking for the speck of goodness, listening for the sliver of time when God spoke uniquely to her.  This ability to hover over years and circumstances with wisdom and perspective is truly awe-inspiring.  Despite all that was dealt to her, she holds the cards, reshuffles them, and finds a way to make meaning.  Finds a way to win.

With an engaging and lyrical style, Mary replays the scenes of her life, letting the reader fully conjure each episode: smells and sights and feelings–all portrayed perfectly and poetically by a master storyteller.  Mary does this with clarity, telling her story with brutal honesty.  Specifically, the chapters entitled Snapshot, Shame and Marked were so naked and raw that I could not help but sob quietly, letting tears bleed into heartwrenching pages.

Thin Places is arranged in 28 short chapters embraced by an introduction and a conclusion.  I enjoyed the way that this book was mapped out by themes rather than being entirely chronological.  It amazed me that Mary was able to sit down and comprise *28* themes: growth and struggle, hardship and revelation–28 thin places where God has revealed himself to her [could I even get to 8?!].  She tackles brokenness, loneliness, despair, and hurt, but in time flips them around so we don’t miss their other side.  Deftly, skillfully, she threads the needle and shows us how so many scraps and throwaways are really the makings of God’s tapestry.

To anyone who struggles to move beyond the heartbreak of stolen innocence, the disappointment of childhood cut short, the need to be seen and loved for who God made each of us to be, Thin Places will speak to your soul and stir you in a powerful way.  Mary has so completely poured herself out, so thoroughly wrung herself dry, that in the end only Christ himself is left to shine.

Mary’s writing mantra is “turning trials to triumph.” There’s no denying that she has done just that with this memoir, released February 1 by Zondervan Publishers.  As a reader, I offer proud applause for all the triumphs.  Proud applause for her love and undying passion for Jesus.  Applause for her determination to remember, learn from, and share so many of her own thin places.

~~My thanks to Zondervan for furnishing a copy of this book.

This entry was posted in Discoveries, Faith, Family, Following Jesus, God, gratitude, Growing Pains, Heartbreak, Home, Kids, Literature/Books, Marriage, Matters of the Heart, Motherhood/Mommy Duties, Play, Seasons of Life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Thin Places: a memoir, by Mary DeMuth

  1. Mary DY says:

    YOU are poetic, J. Your review makes me wish that I was more of a journal-type than I have been over the years. It felt funny reading about his other Mary–the name grabs me with some conviction. I’ve always felt that I am a Martha, so one more chance to aspire to live into my “mary-ness” by reading this, perhaps?

    • heartscape says:

      Thank you, Mary. Your kind words mean a lot. I don’t know if this book will help you live into your “Mary-ness,” but it will give you pause to consider how God can help even the overlooked to overcome desperate circumstances. The author’s childhood stories and then redemption were very powerful.

  2. Mary DeMuth says:

    Loved, loved, loved this sweet review. You’re a beautiful, honest writer.

    • heartscape says:

      Mary, thank you for your kind words. God has used you, again, to touch me. Considering the events of my day, these words are a fresh wind in my sails. Thanks for being a gracious cheerleader! I’m proud to review for you.

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