A new season began this week and new horizons was the theme (or vistas to be precise). Our aim was to look at what it's like to be on a mountain top and to suddenly get a new view of everything. This can be a bit challenging when you're in the upstairs room of a pub on a cold, dark January night!
As always there was lots to do as people came in from looking at various images which were taken from a distorted point of view to stepping inside a giant circular panorama of the Brighton seafront. Everyone was encouraged to go to the bar not only to get a drink but also to collect a length of ribbon measured out to the same length as their age.
The beginning of the evening focused on different perspectives from a variety of angles (appropriately enough!) starting with the visual, moving through perceptions of the spiritual through the experiences of people like the astronauts in Apollo 8 rounding the moon for the first time and ending up with a look at God's perception of things like time as described by Rob Bell (there's an extended version of the video we watched of his lecture here).
This led us to think about 'thin places' these are places 'where the veil that separates heaven and earth is lifted and one is able to receive a glimpse of the glory of God' and they don't just have to be mountain tops but can occur anywhere, at any time in our lives - in the smile from a stranger, an unexpected act of kindness or a moment of transfiguration on a bus.
This is described beautifully by Dave Tomlinson in a sermon on the Transfiguration which you can listen to here if you have 15 minutes to spare. We then spent some time thinking about places that are thin for us and writing these onto our ribbons before attaching them to a cross that was set up in the corner of the room.
After the event a few of us took the opportunity to visit a thin place and went up on the downs to get a view over Brighton and the Sussex countryside in the light of a beautiful, clear moonlit night.
People's everyday experiences of thin places will form the foundation for our Vistas Revisited discussion in 2 weeks time - perhaps you would like to describe some of your favourite thin places in the comments to this blog?