Sandpiper, Kitty Hawk, NC
Photograph by Lee van Laer
That is to say, I cannot begin by investing myself in my thinking. There needs to be a clear and present sensation of being that begins in the organism, in the cells. There is a brightness, a clarity, an intelligence that animates me at this microcosmic level. I can become available to it; and that availability consists of a relationship.
What this means is that I am an organism, and I know it with the intelligence of sensation and the intelligence of the soul. These two things are not far apart from one another.
I need to begin with that intelligence first, before any other layers are put on it. Then I can come to this particular aspect of presence throughout the day, always referencing every other event from this perspective:
what is organic within me at this moment?
I will never have a full answer to that question, but I can live within a relationship to this presence, which provides a powerful inner gravity that neutralizes the strength of thought and leads to a form of emptying. It's as though my being—in its lower-case, minor sense, that is, the parts of me that are repetitive, habitual, identified, and banal—drains out of me through this grounded, intimate connection with the body and the earth.
The mind empties itself; and in becoming empty, it is filled with Real Being.
Then something new can happen.
There isn't anything more satisfying than this organic question; yet it is so often uncensored, ignored, neglected. If Being and body come into a right relationship, then this relationship offers itself generously and with love. It is the routed form of compassion, that is, compassion for the legitimate self, which begins at home, before one is capable of having compassion for anyone else or any other situation.
I would say this relationship is important in this sense because it arises, fundamentally and at its quantum level, from Love, which is what animates the cellular sense of Being and the organic impression of life.
So it is wholly legitimate to call this the Practice of the Presence of God, which is also the title of the fine little book that describes the life of Brother Lawrence. (Everyone should read this book—you can download it free here.)
May you have a blessed day today.
Lee van Laer is a senior editor at Parabola Magazine.