Sunday, July 22, 2012

Brother Lawrence and Me

My Presence will go with you.  Exodus 33:14 (NIV)
Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.  Matthew 28:20 (NLT)
Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. – Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)
I first met Brother Lawrence when I taught at the Christian school. I was preparing a lesson on an excerpt from his classic The Practice of the Presence of God for one of my high school literature classes, and as part of the lesson, I delved into the author’s biography.
At the time, life was busy, with teaching full time and running a household, which consisted of one unfinished house, one overworked husband, and one active teenage son. I wrestled with that very concept—sensing God’s presence in the busyness of life—and struggled to find enough time for a soul-quenching quiet time. So I was intrigued by the title of this work by a man who joined a monastery in the 1600s, nearly 400 years ago.
You would think that since his writing has become a classic for its profound insight into spiritual matters, he would have spent hours upon hours in solitude, meditating and praying. But that wasn’t the case. Brother Lawrence was assigned to the kitchen, cooking and cleaning up afterward—not my favorite household chore. Imagine the noise and activity in a restaurant kitchen. How can anyone even hear himself think? Yet amid the clamor of pots and pans, in the busyness of preparing three meals a day for a monastery full of monks, he found a peace that we clamor for today.
“The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer,” he wrote, “and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament” (The Practice of the Presence of God).
How was he able to do this?
It wasn’t by blocking out his surroundings, but seeing God in them. 
He understood that God is present everywhere (omnipresent), not only in the quiet and solitude, not only on the mountaintop, but also—especially—in the busyness, commonness and humdrum of everyday life. 
“Men invent means and methods of coming at God’s love,” he wrote, “They learn rules and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God’s presence. Yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for the love of him?”
I don’t have to go looking for God. I don’t have to clamor for solitude or pray for a mountaintop experience to find Him, although those are refreshing, invigorating times. He is here, right where I am, during every mundane and every magnificent moment of every day and night, whether I’m thinking about Him or not.
How comforting to know, dear God, that Your presence in my life doesn’t depend on anything I do or say or think or believe, but on Your steadfast love and faithfulness! Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Psalm 139

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this reminder of God's presence right in the middle of the busyness!