“Serendipity” is a word that every spiritual seeker should understand. It means “an unexpected and fortunate discovery”, or “a beneficial surprise”. My Lenten serendipity occurred when I found, tucked away on the back of a cluttered shelf, a small book about Nicholas Herman, who was born about 420 years ago.
Nicholas Herman was injured as a soldier in France during the “Thirty Years War.” He then became a footman, who waited on tables, held doors for visitors and moved furniture, and who, he admits, “was clumsy and broke everything.” He then became a cook in a monastery in Paris where he discovered a pure and uncomplicated way to work continually in God’s Presence. He took the name of “Brother Lawrence” and lived a life that is best described as “the practice of the presence of God.”
He is remembered for his holy life, which he described by saying, “I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of Him…. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.” Every single thing he did, even the menial and routine, was recognized as an opportunity to be in the presence of God.
The small book, which was my Lenten serendipity, consists of four conversations and 16 short letters, which demonstrate a pure and uncomplicated way to live and work continually in God’s presence. He explains that to be continually walking with God involves not just the head, but also the heart.
Brother Lawrence demonstrates for me what The Psalmist meant when he wrote:
“You will show me the path that leads to life;
your presence fills me with joy
and brings me pleasure forever. (Psalm 16:11)
Practicing the presence of God is not only something we do during Lent. It is a lifestyle.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for revealing new ideas in our head, and new feelings in our heart, so that your will is done everywhere we practice your presence. AMEN
Reverend Dr. Regi Thackston
Trinity UMC Pastor Emeritus