The early church (in the tradition of John), the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Celts
in Scotland and Ireland, the Desert Fathers (5th Century), Brother Lawrence in the
1600’s and since that time literally millions of Christians worldwide have embraced
and practiced the spiritual discipline of living in the presence of God.
"The Practice of the Presence of God with Spiritual Maxims" by Brother Lawrence
can be the beginning point for a study of living in the presence of God. I came upon
this book recently. Another recently acquired book is "Listening for the Heartbeat
of God: a Celtic Spirituality" by J. Philip Newell. From this book, I came to
understand the ancient origins of this tradition and the history of why this tradition
was quashed during the early years of the church. Dallas Willard's book "Hearing
God" speaks of developing a "Conversational Relationship With God", a concept
that is based upon "Living in the Presence of God."
For me, Henri Nouwen is the person who, by his writings, led me in the journey to
living in the presence of God. His books I would especially recommend (in no
special order) are: “The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming,” “The
Genesee Diary,” “Here and Now: Living in the Spirit,” “The Way of the Heart:
Desert Spirituality and Contemporary Ministry,” “Life of the Beloved: Spiritual
Living in a Secular World,” “Making All Things New: An Invitation to the Spiritual
Life," and "Spiritual Direction" by Henri Nouwen with Michael Christensen and
How This Website Happened
Shortly after my mother's sudden illness in 2005, I was walking to the hospital to
visit her. I was so very aware of the first signs of spring that were just beginning to
appear. I was struck that at such a time, as I was walking as fast as I could—not
sure of my mother’s condition—I was so very aware and so very filled with the
presence of the emerging beauty of Springtime!
The words of the hymn, “For the Beauty of the Earth” immediately came to mind
and in time became one of 3 focal prayers during those difficult days. (The others
were “Be still and know that I am God” and Henri Nouwen’s general advice not to
look to others for that which only God can give.)
Also at this time, my small group at church discussed the possibility of each member
developing a focal project – to study all aspects of something—and to come back in
September and have something wonderful to share with everyone.
During the time of my mother’s illness and eventual death, I had taken photographs
every morning on my chosen theme “For the Beauty of the Earth”. I wanted to
prayerfully consider how God uses the beauty of the earth to DRAW us, to HOLD
US close and to help us feel and better know God’s love for us. I intended to
restudy Augustine’s “General Revelation” for insights that would help me write
poetry, take photographs, and generally develop this beautiful theme.
Soon after my mother died, I experienced an outpouring of love, support, and
encouragement that strengthened me and gave me great comfort as I was going
through this difficult time. I was so wonderfully and especially aware of God’s love
and presence in my life during those difficult days. This outpouring of love and
especially strong presence of God caused me to broaden my study to “Living in the
Presence of God”—because the beauty of the earth is but one entry point to life in
the presence of God. So, it was “Living in the Presence of God” that became my
Only a few days later as I was reading Robert Ellsberg’s book “The Saints’ Guide
to Happiness”, I read of St. Theresa of Lisieux (1873-1897). I wrote in the margin
of the book these words: “She has taken Brother Lawrence’s ‘Living in the
presence of God’ to the ultimate—‘living in the presence of the LOVE of God.’” I
immediately had one of those “ah-hah!” moments: a time when, for a moment,
everything comes together and for a moment it all makes sense. I realized that even
through my mother’s death and increased family responsibilities, I was doing well—
very well in fact. When I read the Psalms, I did not relate to those expressing fear
and longing for God’s faithful presence—for I knew where God was—right here
with me—inside me, surrounding me—and everywhere I turned in my life! Through
the eyes of faith, I saw God’s loving presence in the people and the places and all of
the times of my life! Even though my mind raced with fears and worries from 3 am
to 5 am, during the day when I could see the beauty of God’s world—and
experience the love of God’s people—and the wonderful life I have been given and
the opportunities I have to respond in faith—my soul was filled with hope—knew
joy—and marveled that I was (and am) so very blessed by our loving God. And
so, it became clear that I needed to emphasize that it is living in the
presence of the LOVE of God and being mindful of God’s love that is the
real blessing to be shared!
Until now, the most important theological development in my life was Brother
Lawrence’s concept of living in the presence of God. I have come to know that it is
not the discipline of living in the presence of God—but the GIFT of living in the
presence of the LOVE of God that I have actually been experiencing—and have the
opportunity to reflect, better understand, and share! The small group study project
has become this website.
An Introduction to the Rest of This Website
The rest of this website consists of writings and photographs. The writings are
recent and reflect some of the fruits of living in the presence of God and reflect my
understanding of God. The photographs represent photographs taken over the past
few months. It is the beauty of God’s creation that has helped me to experience
God’s presence and that has been a source of great blessing in difficult days.
Introduction to Photographs
Life can be so very different when we put on “God-colored glasses.” That is, when
we look at life aware that it is God who blesses us with the beauty of the earth and
life itself! Through God-colored glasses we are invited to appreciate the beauty of
flowers, mountains, waters, and skies. We are invited to consider their details and
their complexities. We are invited to view the creation and prayerfully consider
what it reveals about the Creator!
My hope and prayer is that through the beauty of these photographs you may
experience God and be filled with God’s love for you and all of God’s creation!!!
It is living in the
presence of the
LOVE of God and
being mindful of
God’s love that is
the real blessing
to be shared!
colored glasses . . .
we are invited to
view the creation
consider what it
reveals about the