One thing I'm finding helpful is the use of a booklet small enough to fit in a pocket. I received this little edition of The Practice of the Presence of God (by Brother Lawrence) as a gift when placing a recent book order. Perfect timing! It's compact, slim, and I can take it out at random times to find a word of holy wisdom. Of course, I want to do more than read the words. What I'd felt drawn to do (ten days ago) was to read something, and then spend the next hour or two specifically putting that something into practice.
"There is no life in the world happier or more full of delight than one of continual communion with God," I read a little while ago. "They can only realize it who have practiced and experienced it. But I do not urge you to seek it for that reason. We ought not to seek consolations from this practice, but to undertake it from love and because God wills it."
Reading this, I am determined to pursue this continual communion. I don't want to settle for now-and-then interaction, nor for prayer-done-so-I-can-get-on-to-other-things. I want nothing less than continual communion. I'm tired of halfway measures.
So what have I done in response to reading these sentences today? How does this work?
I have been speaking to God, in the quiet of my heart, every time I think of Him. Just doing this has been enlightening, for I realize I think of Him more than I'd known.
This, however, was not all I read today. "If I were a preacher," continues Brother Lawrence, "I would preach nothing else but the presence of God. If I were a director, I would recommend it to everybody: so necessary, and even so easy do I believe it to be."
I haven't reached "easy." But it strikes me - for the very first time, it strikes me - that easy could be an attainable goal. I mean: what would happen if I practiced the presence of God, moment by moment, day by day, every time the thought of doing so occurred to me?
What if I practiced with the diligence of a piano student? I could do this in several ways. I might practice God's presence like a half-interested child does while learning music: rushing to get the session over with so she could go out with her friends. Or perhaps being content to learn a song or two.
I could also take the route of devoting all my energy to it, becoming accomplished, and growing into someone who does more than play a stray melody (or utters a quick prayer) now and then.
I could, with talent and diligence, become Holy in much the same way A Pianist reaches her goal.
God wants me to be holy. He has already given me (and you) all of the "talent" we need to become so. But He does ask that we cooperate with His graces; He asks us to do our part.
I don't want God's presence to be an occasional melody heard now and then in my life. I want it to be the constant, the soundtrack, the recurrent theme, the "always there."
"Set about this work..." writes Brother Lawrence. "You may be sure that you will soon see some results."
I'm taking him at his word.
Painting: George A. Reid, Adagio
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