Celtic spirituality uses a term, “thin places” to refer to a space where the divine and the human meet, a space so thin that the holy and the earth touch one another. There are many places around the world, like Iona in Scotland, where it is universally understood that you are walking in the thin place. But for most of us that distinction is quite personal, unique. In my 52 years I can think of several spaces where I felt I walked with one step in the divine and the next the very human. Some of these spaces would be familiar to most people with a sensitivity to the spiritual and some would not.
One such thin place in my life is Polly’s Cove. I had lived in the St. Margaret’s Bay area for some five years before someone randomly mentioned this hiking gem location. I had never heard of it. I was surprised to discover its location, not far from the iconic Peggy’s Cove. How had I, how had thousands of tourists heading to and fro Peggy’s Cove, not become aware of Polly’s Cove’s rugged beauty?
Walking this thin trail and looking over the water one can’t help but be aware of being part of something much, much bigger. And the surroundings are not “pretty” or tamed or made to look like the inside of our homes. There is nothing domestic about this space. There is nothing that has been added or subtracted from the scenery. The only addition, as far as the eye can see, is a piece of iron, an art project gifted from the imagination of local blacksmith and artist John Little (no relation). Even so the iron feels like a fit for this landscape, it complements the rugged terrain.
When my wife, daughter, dog and I walk this space we feel connected to the larger Creation and we feel particularly alive and at peace. Perhaps it is that old saying, “familiarity breeds contempt” but Peggy’s Cove has never done much for me. I suspect it is because there is a lack of “green” on the rocks. But Polly’s Cove is different and mysteriously peaceful in an untidy kind of way.
Nova Scotia has many gems, thin places, that even those who have lived here all our lives seem unaware of; Victoria Park in Truro, Dawson Brook Falls near Ellershouse, Fairy Hole Hiking Trail - Cape Dauphin near Baddeck to name but a few. But Polly’s Cove is the closest to Halifax that I am aware of and therefore the most accessible to city folks on a beautiful summer day. I hope and pray you find this thin space and that it moves you as it moves me. Peace.