Practicing Presence


This week’s chapter about email, blessing, and sending reminded me of my favorite saint and mystic—Brother Lawrence. Born in the seventeenth century in France, Brother Lawrence was a Benedictine monk who lived and worked in a monastery in the kitchen and as a sandal maker for most of his life after sustaining an injury in the Thirty Years War. The main theme in his life was practicing the presence of God. This means that in whatever task he was doing, whether it was laboring in the kitchen or hunching over a tattered shoe or drinking deeply from a cup of wine, he acknowledged God’s presence and offered himself to the Divine.

Basically, this is a sustained discipline of offering ourselves to God. It might sound daunting and difficult, but what this practice does is reorient our hearts to see that every movement we make can be worship to the God who gives and sustains our lives. Plus, grace abounds when we fumble with our prayer practices and offerings of ourselves. Lawrence wrote, “A little lifting of the heart suffices; a little remembrance of God, one act of inward worship are prayers which, however short, are nevertheless acceptable to God.”

This practice of God’s presence allows us to look around and realize that our feet always rest on holy ground. All work, even checking email or deep-cleaning the oven, when done with love, is good work. As Brother Lawrence said, “We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”

May we be faithful in the practice and the doing.

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