“Think often on God, by day, by night, in your business and even in your diversions. He is always near you and with you; leave him not alone.”— Brother Lawrence
For various reasons, I will be away from my computer, so this meditation is for two Fridays. Hopefully, it’s not two Fridays long. A change in routine presents challenges for me. Maybe this is a problem for you too. When you are away from your routine, perhaps for a vacation or conference of some sort, do you have problems keeping to your regular spiritual practices? I do, especially prayer and Bible reading.
I find most challenging my regularly scheduled Centering Prayer early in the morning and mid-afternoon. When I am away from home, I often don’t have a great place, nor the silence, for this. Then there’s Bible reading. I read the daily lessons on-line when I first set at the computer for work. At Noon, I like to spend quality prayer time with one or more of these readings, usually the Gospel about the life of Jesus. The noon reading needs flexibility because, often, I am with other people. So I need to remember that a Rule of Life is not Law but Help.
The seventeenth century lay brother, Lawrence of the Resurrection, struggled with his prayer life for years. He found it dry and unrewarding. He couldn’t concentrate on formal prayers even though he always had this discipline. He found it challenging and thought prayer should be simpler. After several years, Brother Lawrence decided that if the spiritual life was really about a relationship between God and him, he would act like it was. As he went about his kitchen duties of peeling and washing up, emptying chamber pots and, in his later years, working in the shoe repair shop, he talked to the Lord as if he were right there with him, which of course, he was. He continued with his regular schedule of attending mass and prayers of the hour, performing his daily tasks and the works of service to others, but he was ever joyful and full of peace. He had found the relationship with God that his heart had desired.
I don’t know when I began this practice. I wasn’t really conscious of practicing God’s presence; I just began to notice that I was. Once, I had had a very long day. I had overbooked myself with appointments of directees and a couple of meetings. All of them were full of words. I knew I needed to spend some time in prayer before I went home but I was tired of listening and of talking even if to God. Finally, I told him that he could come in and sit with me, but I didn’t want to talk or listen. I “felt” or “heard” a chuckle but his presence stayed with me. After 9/11 and all of that horror, I became aware that, although I had prayed, I had not asked Jesus how he was feeling about everything. When I did, it was a time when I listened to him. This began, for me, a new way of prayer that I continue to practice during the day where ever I may be.
There are several occasions in the next couple of months where I might not be able to have my prayer practice as I would wish to do it. But I still can pray always. I have the Lectionary (schedule of daily Bible readings) on my smartphone, three translations of the Bible and two meditations that I am using on my Kindle. When I travel, I can at least read these. My prayer list is on my phone. So I am set to read and pray even if I don’t do the usual. I have plans. You may ask me how they worked out. If any of these are of interest to you, even if you aren’t out of your regular routine, just begin.
We may not be able to do everything, but we can do something. And so we ask, “Lord, what would you have me do?” Bless you as you journey.