Practicing the Presence of God

In the winter of 2008-2009 we had over 126 inches of snow at our little farm in Washington. It was so much that our very rustic, turn of the century barn roof collapsed.

The following summer the family project was spending long hours dismantling what was left of a building we deeply treasured.

This summer’s project has been to recycle as much of the material as possible. Board by board we have stacked, carried and stacked again, placing the pieces into a very large wood recycling container. For me, it has been a “Brother Laurence spiritual exercise.”

For those not familiar with Brother Laurence, he was a 17th century monk in a Carmelite community. His best known writing is titled Practicing the Presence of God. In this brief little book, Brother Laurence describes how he learned to be both aware and grateful for God’s presence in even the most mundane and tedious tasks. Whatever he did, whether it was washing pots and pans or scrubbing the floor, Brother Laurence did so for the love of God.

Interestingly, it is said that Brother Laurence once commented that we have established all kinds of methods, devices, and even rules to come into the presence of God…something that he believes can be done in just the living of our daily lives.

As odd as it may sound to some, I am truly grateful for the dirty, sweaty hard work of stacking, carrying and stacking every board from our beloved barn. It has been a labor of love and a reminder yet again, “bidden or unbidden… God is present” (Desiderius Erasmus).