O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1 NLT)
I started my day with GOD and Brother Lawrence. I read a few paragraphs from The Practice of the Presence of God. This little booklet contains a posthumous compilation of four conversations and fifteen letters collected by Joseph de Beaufort, a visitor to Brother Lawrence at the monastery.
The writings themselves can be hard to understand in our day, because we are more familiar with whole narratives or detailed biographies. It helps to think of this collection as overheard conversations or portions of a journal. It in not my intent to republish the whole text here, but to lift a sentence or phrase that touches my soul, especially as a I seek GOD and practice ART in His presence.
As it is the beginning of our journey, it seemed fitting to introduce some of the background of Brother Lawrence’s life. Brother Lawrence entered the Discalced Carmelite Priory in Paris after his service in the Thirty Years War, as well as serving some period of time as a footman. The Carmelite order was founded in the early 13th century near Jerusalem, and later moved into various European countries including France. Most likely Brother Lawrence joined them in the mid 17th century.
Three things endear me to him already: he lived in Paris, he was comfortable in bare feet (i.e. discalced), and he devoted his whole life to living for God.
As an artist, my life can sometimes feel monastic, in that I am often alone while I immerse myself in ART. I am enjoying this new found way of being present with GOD, marinating in His words and the life of this humble brother who wanted most of all to remain in continual conversation with His Creator.
Brother Lawrence stated his soul intention, as a call to commitment for all who pursue God:
That we should establish ourselves in a sense of GOD’s Presence, by continually conversing with Him. . . That we should feed and nourish our souls with high notions of GOD; which would yield us great joy in being devoted to Him.
After pondering what it means to remain in continual conversation with God, I decided to start my collage for today. During the process, I enjoyed seeing the pieces come together. Often as I glue down images, words will surface that direct my heart toward God.
The words that surfaced across the top of the page were “I will…trust. It’s simple. Love.” Each word or phrase became a tab on a file folder. It’s hard to explain all the meaning I glean from the chosen images, but I liked how the whole collage became a stack of files. I used more layers today, and the files reminded my heart that conversations with God take on many layers. And being in God’s presence is a multi-faceted experience.
Recurring images can often mean something to me. I noticed that I had another pen and a light fixture in this collage, just like yesterday. I will keep my heart open to what God may be encouraging in the conversation regarding my practice of writing and sharing IDEAS with others.
How do you maintain a continual conversation with God? How can you incorporate more color into your relationship with God? Have you ever wanted to be a monk?
(To see more about the stages of the process I followed today, click here.)