The History of the Discipline of Living in the Presence of God

    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
    Rebecca Laird.

                                 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
    chosen theme.

    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!



    Through God-
    colored glasses . . .
    we are invited to
    view the creation
    and prayerfully
    consider what it
    reveals about the
    Creator!