In the diminutive book, The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence shares his experience of essentially living much of his life while in the presence of God. For most of his adulthood, Brother Lawrence worked as a monastery cook. As he attended to his daily duties in the kitchen, he gradually learned how to spend that time in prayer, eventually getting to the point of his spirit moving into God’s presence while his body remained in this world to prepare food and wash dishes. At least that’s what I think happened, because he declines to describe the experience, citing the complete inadequacy of his words.
What I do know is that he worshiped God more fully throughout his day in the kitchen than when at services in the cathedral. Oh, how I yearn to do the same.
Yet, Brother Lawrence worked in an ideal, idyllic setting; his work required little concentration. He could navigate much of his day on autopilot, allowing his mind and spirit to embrace God. Even so, it still took him a couple decades to hone his practice.
Not only does his experience inspire me, but his book confounds me. Living in the sixteen hundreds in France, he comes to me from another time and a foreign culture; he wrote in a different language. His translated work possesses a unique rhythm, gradually emerging with a pleasing cadence, even though it abounds with incomplete sentences, which sorely vexes the writer in me.
Still, I grasp for a taste of what he lived.
May we likewise learn to practice being in the presence of God, not just at church on Sunday, but throughout our entire week. Thank you Brother Lawrence for your example and your encouragement.
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