Today I would like to go back to a book that I have been using as a reference guide while doing my reading for the upcoming session of the Academy for Spiritual Formation. The following excerpt is from the book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Calhoun. In particular, this passage is from the section “Practicing the Presence” (pg. 72):
“Practicing the presence is a way of living into a deeper awareness of God’s activity in our lives. Through many small pauses we begin a habit of turning our heart toward God.”
I was “practicing the presence” this afternoon as I was waiting for my kids to get home on the school bus. It has been very cold the last few nights and I have been concerned for the plants that I have planted and tended around the parsonage. In particular, I have been concerned for the apple tree that was so prodigious our first year but suffered from frost damage on the apple blossoms last year. I do not have the resources to properly protect the tree. I pray for the tree. We use what we have…
Anyway, I went up to the tree while waiting and tried to slow down. I had been preparing dinner as a surprise for my wife and had been busy mincing, shaving, and slicing vegetables for dinner. I needed to get to work shortly after the kids got off the bus to have dinner ready in time. I was feeling a false sense of time pressure, so that particular moment was a good moment to slow down.
I stopped and stared at the apple blossoms. The blossoms were absolutely gorgeous. Don’t take my word for it–look at these beautiful blossoms!
As I looked at the blossoms I came to realize something. There were no pollinators at work. The weather was a bit breezy and a bit cold. The blossoms were in bloom, the pollen was ready to be spread, but there were no bees! All of these beautiful blossoms would be out and ready, but no bees were taking advantage of the treasure trove of pollen.
As I looked, slowed down, and sought to find the presence of God I realized something. Our lives are full of opportunities to go deeper in our relationship with God. There are opportunities to explore our faith all around us. We can get to know God better by taking fifteen minutes to pray before starting our day. We can grow in our knowledge of the scriptures by spending time reading through the Psalms before we dig into our lunch each day. We can spend time with a spiritual director or an accountability partner going deeper in our faith. There are so many opportunities to go deeper in our lives.
As I stopped and went into God’s presence I realized those opportunities are like the flowers on an apple tree on a cold day. They are all over the place. A moment or two is all it takes to cover ourselves in God’s presence like pollen covers a bee. As we drink in God’s presence like a bee drinks nectar we spread the blessing of one part of our faith to another. As we come across others that blessing can spread from our lives into theirs. There are so many opportunities if we spread our wings and leave the nests of our own comfort.
I am very glad I took a moment to slow down and seek God’s presence. Hopefully I will be wise enough to continue finding moments where God is present in the midst of the busyness of my days.