by Fredd Dunham • Brother Lawrence became a monk in the seventeenth century. His whole life was devoted to practicing God’s presence. When he worked in the kitchen he said he loved to cook and clean for his fellow monks. Although at first he disliked the chores, he was happy to be of service. Later he was moved to a shoe repair shop on the premises. He was happy there, but location or occupation seemed to make no difference to him. All he cared about was his connection with God. He viewed work time as equal to time spent in traditional prayer. His goal was to be aware of God every moment.
For Brother Lawrence, this meant denouncing everything that distracted him from the presence of God. His soul knew he should entertain a continuous conversation with his Creator, a conversation of utmost simplicity, free of mystery. He sought, every moment to ask for and discern Divine Will in all doubtful things. Doing well the things asked of him, he offered his labors humbly to God—with prayer before doing them, and thanks for the opportunity to serve after doing them.
In this continuous conversation we, likewise, can be unceasingly engaged in loving God. Brother Lawrence asserts, “We should ask for grace in every moment, in every action. In time of doubt God never fails to enlighten us when we have no other purpose than to please him and ask for his love. People always mistake the means for the end, attaching certain importance to the work they do….” He found that the best way of reaching God was to do ordinary work, performed entirely for love—not for the value man places on it. He thought it a great delusion that time set aside for prayer should be different from other times.
Something that has brought me closest to actively knowing God’s presence is feeling the vortex of Spirit’s energy spinning above me, around me, and entering my body through the crown of the head. I first became aware of this in quiet meditation. But we can talk to God at any point in our day, and may subtly or dramatically feel God’s presence moving through us. That Presence brings with it a feeling of ecstasy.
Once feeling the life force of Spirit, you can expand the vortex to include your environment and ultimately the whole planet. Imagine it nurturing everything. I’ve found, that if something happens in my life causing me a moment of need, I can draw on this vortex and be protected by the Spirit of God. Having Spirit’s love around me gives me the peace of knowing that everything is going to be okay. We each can harmonize with God’s will through our devotion and practice.
Brother Lawrence lived in times much simpler than ours, but he managed to disengage himself from the complications of daily life by focusing on his inner connection with Spirit. We can do much the same in our busy lives. If you can devote even five minutes twice a day in meditation—morning and evening—to connect with Spirit, you will help yourself and others immensely. Brother Lawrence advised us to practice awareness of God all day and night. Through that dedication he was able to live a humble, purposeful and joyous life, and so might we.