Presence Project Week 9
You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence. — Acts 2:28
Solitude was where Jesus listened to God. It is where we listen to God. Solitude is where community begins. — Henri Nouwen
When our prayerful intention runs into difficulties Brother Lawrence’s advice is to persevere. In truth, practicing God’s presence can, at times, feel like you are not accomplishing anything at all. Lawrence understands: “In the beginning you may often think that you are wasting your time; nonetheless, you must continually resolve to persevere until death in spite of all the difficulties.”
Difficulties usually are assumed to be unwanted distractions and unexpected failures, but what of the person who chooses to turn away or quit trying. Lawrence urges such a person to “make a holy and firm resolution at once never to deliberately turn away from [God], and to live the rest of your life in this holy presence,” for if God is always present then the only way to lose that presence is to deliberately turn away, and the only way not to reap the benefits of being present to God is to eschew them.
Lawrence never wants a person to give up, so he compels us to persevere: “Knock at his door, keep knocking, and I tell you that he will open to you in his time if you do not give up, and that he will give you, all at once, what he held off giving for years.” In other words, take heart.
“You don’t become a saint in a day!”
One summer’s day the sky above me was really interesting. It was like every kind of cloud was laid out side by side – solid cover, then dotted, then stringy, then wispy, then with some depth, then gray, then bright and casting shadows on other clouds. It was as if someone was practicing cloud-making and trying all the different kinds out right there. It was beautiful. I paused and thanked God.
God didn’t paint the clouds for me, and God wasn’t speaking through the clouds – they were simply a dazzling example of beauty that made me stop and wonder. And in my wondering I was awed by how big and amazing and incomprehensible the world is, and that made me sense the presence of God, and my gratitude was for communion in that moment.
What do you notice when you look up to the sky?