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In the Spirit: Practicing the presence of God

by Brian J. Plachta
 
Image: Hands of mother and child preparing baking ingredientsHow do I survive life's “busyness?” is a chief complaint year-round, but one that can overwhelm us during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. It seems the joy that’s supposed to fill these months gets robbed by increased demands of shopping, preparing holiday meals, and hosting office parties.
 
Maybe refocusing the question can help ease the holiday tension: “How do I find the presence of God in the midst of life’s busyness?”
 
Brother Lawrence, a 17th century monk, raised this question when he entered the monastery. Lawrence hoped his days would be filled with quiet prayer, thinking solitude would connect him to God and provide an extra dose of peace. His hopes were dashed, however, when the abbot assigned Lawrence the task of head cook.
 
Lawrence realized God’s presence could be felt not only in the morning solitude he enjoyed, but also during the active part of his day. So, Lawrence developed a shortcut to God. As he went about his chores, Lawrence conversed with God, not only talking but listening.
 
Lawrence called this habit “practicing the presence of God.”
 
When my wife and I were raising four children and building our careers, I’d get up before the clamor of the day to spend time in meditation. But my wife dashed out of bed when the alarm clock rang, jumped into the shower, and then rushed into daily tasks.
 
One day I asked her, “Don’t you think it would be better if you got up before the kids and spent time talking with God?”
 
Her response surprised me.
 
“I talk to God all day long. It begins in the shower when I ask him for strength. It continues as I’m cooking
breakfast when I thank him for you and the children. And it continues in the car, as I leave the radio off and listen for what God might want to say to me. At the end of the day, I listen and often hear God say he loves me.”
 
My wife was practicing the presence of God. Her heart led her to discover the shortcut Lawrence had found – conversing with God throughout the day like old friends.
 
Now that we’re empty nesters, my wife has added morning quiet time to her daily routine. While I still get up early to meditate, I’ve also adopted her practice. I talk to God in the shower and in the car. When I notice ordinary things like my wife and children’s beauty, I thank the God who makes abundance real. I’ve discovered God is present both in morning solitude and in the day’s activity.
 
God is like a dear friend who accompanies us throughout the day – someone we can talk with, share our fears and gratitude with, and gain wisdom from to guide us on life’s journey.
 
As the holidays approach, consider adopting Lawrence’s shortcut to God. Take time in the morning to sit quietly with the Creator. As you move into the active part of your day, continue your conversation with him. See if practicing the presence of God leads you to deeper peace – the peace that surpasses understanding.
 
Image: Brian PlachtaBrian J. Plachta is a writer and spiritual director. He holds a master’s in pastoral counseling and also practices law at Plachta, Murphy & Associates. He and his wife have four adult children. His blogposts can be found at: brianplachta.net and on Facebook at: facebook.com/WisdomSpace.