I don’t remember where or in what context I first heard of Mary DeMuth. I hadn’t read anything by her that I remember, but when I saw her book Thin Places: A Memoir on a Kindle sale, the name registered somehow, and I got it.
The title comes from a Celtic term for “a place where heaven and the physical world collide, one of those serendipitous territories where eternity and the mundane meet.” DeMuth uses it as a metaphor for “moments…when we sense God intersecting our world in tangible, unmistakable ways. They are aha moments, beautiful realizations, when the Son of God bursts through the hazy fog of our monotony and shines on us afresh.” “God woos me from behind the veil through the tragedies, beauties, simplicities, and snatches of my life I might overlook.”
It’s a wonder, with Mary’s upbringing, how she ever turned out with any sense of stability: she was raised by hippie-ish parents who regularly had friends over to get stoned, even passing their marijuana to her, had a series of step-fathers, was raped repeatedly at the age of 5 by neighbor teenage boys while supposedly under the care of a neglectful babysitter, suffered the loss of her father. All of this plus other circumstances made her feel unloved and unworthy and fueled a need for attention and approval and a fear of men.
She came to know Jesus as a teenager, some twenty-four years before the writing of this book, and sank down into His love and acceptance and cleansing. Yet some wounds heal slowly, and it took a long time of getting to know Him and His Word and walking with Him to transform her view of herself and others, a process still ongoing.
She wrote the book for several reasons: to help others feel they are not alone, to magnify God’s grace in saving and healing her, and to convey hope.
In the past I needed all the fragments of my life placed just so, like diamonds set in a tennis bracelet. The older I get, the more I see that Jesus wants me to trust Him for the missing pieces, the broken clasps, the counterfeit baubles–to relax in the unknowing, to be at peace with the tangles, to learn the art of living with mystery. He is more than capable of handling all my questions, and someday He will make things right.
I used to think that if God truly loved me, He’d give me everything I want, not realizing that getting everything I want will give me an idolatrous heart. And a meaningless life.
I would differ from Mary theologically in a few places, particularly in the area of tongues and visions, and a couple of places made me wince just a bit (“The grace of God is my Mary Jane,” a vision of Jesus “dancing like a crazy man” and offering her an invitation to join Him), though I know she didn’t mean them irreverently or disrespectfully.
But even though we would look at a few things in different ways, there is no denying the grace of God in her life and the way He has worked in and through her.
(Sharing at Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)