Many of us live as outsiders. Whether by birth, ethnicity, sexual orientation or social economic realities, we find ourselves on the outskirts of any one group.

We feel like we don’t fit in as we look for places where we can just be who God is calling us to be.

As I drove into Presbyterian Mo Ranch in Hunt, Texas, for the Synod of the Sun Hispanic women’s conference in late September, I found myself reminded of thin places we are told to seek out.

During my time at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, I had the great pleasure of working with Education Beyond the Walls. This department focuses on continuing education and lay leader programs to support our pastors and small churches, and I worked with Hispanic women in the Synod of the Sun by supporting their continuing education and fellowship.

It was my pleasure and task to make sure that when these women were on campus, there was fresh coffee, snacks and plenty of fresh flowers. It became my personal goal to make sure their time with us was restful and renewing.

Devon Reynolds, left, and Estela Sifuentes. (Photo provided by Devon Reynolds)

My dear friend, Estela Sifuentes started inviting me to the women’s conference the first year we became friends in seminary. When the stars finally aligned for me to be able to attend, I was a little nervous.

I understand Spanish, but I am far from bilingual. I was unsure how it would be for me coming to the conference as a non-Hispanic pastor serving in Oklahoma.

All of that melted away when I arrived at Mo Ranch and found myself surrounded by familiar faces and the warmth of my sisters in Christ.

In seminary, we are taught about liminal spaces where the veil between present and the everlasting life come crashing together. Finding these liminal spaces is often out of reach for those of us born in working-class families, those who must work to make ends meet and raise families.

It is difficult to find time to slow down and look for those spaces. So, we look for them in the faces of those we love.

My time at Mo Ranch was a reminder that those who enter this space, enter God’s dwelling – a place of welcome, hospitality and rest.

As much as I want to believe liminal spaces are available to everyone, that is not always the case. Not everyone can go to a retreat center to get away from the drudgery of everyday life, but that does not mean we cannot find liminal spaces.

Liminal spaces available to all are created by the people who surround us with love and warmth and who show the hospitality of Christ.

It is the family and friends to whom we open our pasts and dream of our futures and by whom we are reminded that it is okay to sit and laugh until you hurt or until tears of grief shimmer down your cheeks like the sweat of summer heat.

Three years of a global pandemic, three years of not being able to embrace friends, of not being able to laugh and cry together, of not being in the same room together, has taken a toll on all of us. These interactions allow us to see the face of God in each other and to experience the thin places together.

For this weary, tired traveler, being surrounded by so many familiar, strong Hispanic women, felt like a homecoming.

Women who understand the world not because a formal education taught them, but because they have lived, worked and experienced the world. Women who accept me not because of the title “Reverend,” but because they understand who I am: a poor, working-class kid from Alabama who has turned their life over to the service of all God’s children.

God’s people provide us with liminal, thin places no matter where we are. Whenever we look into the eyes of anyone, we are seeing the image of God.

We must be willing to sit around the tables with our siblings and allow them to show us who God is through them. We must keep ourselves open to what God is showing us through the people and places we have the privilege of experiencing.

We must have discipline to have the energy to do what it is we are being called to do in the world, having hope in a world that often feels hopeless so that when grace is revealed we will have the common sense to recognize it and share it with everyone we meet.

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