When I agree to review a book, my goal is to actually read the entire book—whether I like it or not. After I read the first couple of chapters of Mary DeMuth’s new book Thin Places: A MemoirI mentally groaned. Would this be a book which I have to slog through someone’s jaded past that points to a happy Christian testimony? Not so.
Ms. DeMuth’s memoir is less about her and more about leading the reader to recognize the thin places in life.
Even though I decided that this was not the typical Christian memoir, I still wondered if anything in her story of an abused and neglected child would have meaning for me. Was there anything that I could touch? Yep, there sure was.
In Celtic tradition, a thin place is where the veil that separates heaven and earth is lifted and one is able to receive a glimpse of the glory of God. Each of us has those thin places in our lives; we need to learn to recognize them. DeMuth, in telling her story, helps us to look for the times in our own lives where heaven has been inches away but we didn’t see. The times when we are so close to the throne of God we can almost touch him.
As I continued reading, since I had gotten to the place where I couldn’t put this book down, I began to see my own thin places. I realized I could relate to DeMuth’s awful, dysfunctional family she grew up in. I didn’t grow up in the horrid conditions that DeMuth did, but there were dysfunctions nonetheless. And God’s face was shining through to me then, and now.
Ms. DeMuth has a way with words that I haven’t seen in recent years. Her descriptions are not only unique, they evoke the emotion of the moment. She writes, “Growing up, I find myself in a scrawny sort-of body—legs thin as broomsticks interrupted by knees so knobby they bang into each other as I walk.” I not only see this scrawny little girl, I feel her humiliation that her upbringing has given her.
Unlike other Christian memoirs, DeMuth doesn’t end with “I met Jesus and my life is wonderful now.” In fact, throughout her tale she confesses her continued struggles, the same struggles that many of us live through. She doesn’t offer any quick answers to the dilemmas of life. DeMuth, however, points the reader to the thin place to look for the moment at heaven peeking through. It is those moments that are a starting place for healing.
Don’t expect a gory retelling of an abused child. Don’t expect a fairy-tale, all-is-right-in-the-world ending. Expect to see your own thin places, and be moved by them.
I recommend this story to everyone, because everyone has a moment they can relate to in DeMuth’s story. I recommend not just reading it, but also feeling. Go back to your moment, and live the thin place in your life.
Thin Places: A Memoir