Abiding in God's Presence

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This liturgical prayer, but we don't want to limit and constrict our being with God to the sanctuary in the church. That would be a little too limiting of what it's all about. Jesus says to the Samaritan woman, time will come where neither on this mountain or in Jerusalem, but people will worship me in spirit and in truth, and that's in any moment of spirit and truth. The gospel does invite an exhort us to pray without ceasing, Luke 21.36 for those who want the citation, and he taught them a parable that they should pray without ceasing, then again the parable of the widow. And then St. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5.17, pray without ceasing. Interesting. Of course, Thessalonians precedes Luke in the written form, but doesn't precede the oral


tradition of Jesus' teaching, so that's very interesting, and how close Paul is with Luke, etc. than John's image of the abiding, abide in me. Not intermittently, not sometimes, not when it feels right, but abide. It's like two deep friends or two spouses. They're just always one, one spirit, whether they're even a thousand miles away or whatever. So, this phrase has been kind of coined to talk about this genre of prayer, the practice of the presence of God. Some ways it's not too satisfactory because it sounds like it all depends on us, like we practice our golf game. There's no golf game unless we practice, but there is the presence of God whether we practice


it or not. So, it would almost better be called acknowledging the presence of God or awareness of the presence of God, but that's the term by which it's come to be known. Also through the collection of a series of letters by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. This is a Carmelite brother who lived back in France, a very simple, very holy life. In the second half of the 17th century, all kinds of editions. I had mentioned that I had a high school, an Episcopal edition. This is a more recent one of image books. It has a nice introduction by John Delaney, nice forward by Henri Nouwen, who's quite a respected spiritual writer in our own time. He said he thought, well, this is a little too simplistic.


When I was exposed to his thoughts for the first time, they seemed simple and even somewhat naive and unrealistic. But the deeper I entered into them, the longer I reflected on them, the more I became aware that Brother Lawrence's advice to walk constantly in the presence of God is not just a nice idea for a 17th century monk, but a most important challenge to our present day situation. He goes on about how distracted we are. Distraction is an interesting word, etymologically it means pulled apart. My body is here, I should be here, but I'm a million miles away thinking about got to balance my checkbook or got to reconcile with that person or whatever it is. But to not be torn apart, but to become back here where God is, from that center in which we are all rooted, the force comes forth that makes the wheel turn.


Brother Lawrence lived this knowledge and gave it very concrete form in his daily life. One of his most stimulating aspects of his thought is his deep conviction that prayer is not saying prayers, but a way of living in which all we do becomes prayer. We indeed are called not just to say prayers, but to live a prayerful life. So this is the way to God. Nice little addition. If you want to get really serious and scholarly, there's now out The Practice of the Presence of God, the critical edition put together by Carmelite Father. In some ways it's almost whimsical because he was so simple and all you have is a few letters and then an interview and a few maxims. But there it is for those of us who want to be scholarly. I was startled as an Anglican to find, again, in one of the great 17th century so-called


Anglican divines or great theologians, Jeremy Taylor, his classic Holy Living. There's a whole section entitled The Practice of the Presence of God, and it's very theological. This is very simple and practical. This gives you all the theology and scripture behind it. A fascinating section, and this predates this. So I don't think there's any direct dependence, but there you are if you want to approach it from a more theological and biblical approach. But then there's a famous Jesuit father, de Caussade, who lived in the same time, and I think his work is called Holy Abandonment, isn't that it?


Does anybody know? Abandonment to Divine Providence. He is Abandoned to Divine Providence, SJ. You can imagine he's quite subtle and quite theological. He takes his point of departure from that text of St. Paul, for those who love God, everything works to the good. Now, this doesn't say that God directly wills everything, but it means that if we approach whatever happens to us with a disposition of faith and love, we can draw benefit out of any situation, however tragic it is, because God cannot be frustrated. God cannot be blocked out by the most horrendous thing.


Calvary was one of the most horrendous things. It's this location of execution and a horrendous form of torture execution. If there's any place that's not holy, that's outside the walls of the holy city of Jerusalem, that's it. And that God's own Son was there going to be executed in that horrendous way. God would presumably flee. No, God is also there. And through Christ's cleaving to God, God is able to work salvifically even for all of humanity. So if God can work even through the cross, God can work through anything and anywhere. So that's what he says. He says, Sadiq al-Assad, don't spend too much time on what he calls the immediate. You know, someone insults me. Well, I can just stop there. Why did they do that?


Why don't they like me? The injustice of it all. I'm not that way at all. I just stay at that immediate level. He says, if we're drawn to prayer, if we'll go to the deeper way, not necessarily, again, that God wanted that person to say those hurtful words. But if I believe that God can work through that somehow salvifically for me, bringing me to a more courageous level of loving my enemy, of pardon, of et cetera, et cetera, then I benefit from that situation. So nothing, this is another famous text from Paul, Romans 8, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. So, that's basically it. By the way, this will sound a little like Hucksterism, but our own artist, we have several artists here, but Mark is one of our artists who will be making his solemn vows here in


December. He did a beautiful little image of Brother Lawrence. Here he is in the kitchen. Here's the pots and pans. And he has three sealed letters, since he did his letters. And we have these holy cards available over in the bookstore. But I have one right on my computer, and I have this hanging up. And we're hoping the original will go in the kitchen because he's famous because in the busyness of the kitchen, he came to this insight that just anywhere and doing anything, he can be in God's presence. Any questions, comments about any of that? Yes? The last statement that you made, maybe a reminder of the Old Testament. David, somebody, made a very nasty comment. And David, one of his bodyguards wanted to hit this man. He said, probably this insight comes from God wanting him to hear that.


Yeah, absolutely. It really fits in beautifully, doesn't it? Yeah, David was able to have that insight. Yeah, yeah. And when his own son is rebelling against him, he takes this with great humility. So, if we get, again, immediately locked into analyzing the immediate situation, getting indignant, etc., etc., we're lost. Not to ignore all that. Sometimes we have to be aware. We have to deal with this person. We have to dialogue, and is it just, etc.? But not that only. And more and more, as we kind of mellow out in life, not even that primarily. So, it's a great insight. So, the point that, if there's no other comments about this immediate journey into the practice of the presence, what Jeremy Taylor does is we did it a little bit at the beginning. All these different levels of God being present.


God is present just as God, where God is necessarily everywhere. I, as a mortal in flesh and blood, being here, I'm no longer back at my place, or I'm not up at Berkeley, or I'm not there. You being here are not at home. You can't be both ways, both places, without the miracle of bilocation. But without that miracle, it just won't happen. So, that piano is there, which means it's not in the sacristy at this moment, and it's not in the... We can move it into the sacristy, but then it won't be here. It's either here or there. God is precisely God because God is here and there, and God is everywhere and all times. So, we're not going to get away from God, just insofar as God is God. Then again, God as creator and sustainer is sustaining it all. And then God as redeemer is right here also sustaining us in grace, not just all around


us. This point came up this morning, but within us, John 14, 17. If anyone loves me, they will keep my word, and my Father and I will love them, and we will come and make our abode with them. 1 Corinthians 3.16. Do you not know that you are God's temple and the Spirit of God dwells in you, etc.? This, again, is the true self, that deepest center, not the ego self. It's difficult for God to be there. God is everywhere, but that is an illusory kind of weird psychic center. And so, God is there, but that self is not with God. The most horrendous... Hitler was always with God. Hitler was just not relating to God, but relating to other things, winning the war and eliminating


the Jews, etc. So, God was there, but Hitler was not with them. So, what we want to do in all this is acknowledge that God is with us, and then in faith and deep humility from our true self, be with God. And so, Jesus at the very end comes back in his risen form to the apostles and says, Behold, I am with you always. So, cling to that. So, how? Let's get practical. Here are just some practices that I found helpful. It's like playing the piano. With practice, with doing the scales and simple little pieces, slowly, slowly, one becomes more and more adapted just sitting down and improvising, or sitting down and from memory playing a wonderful Beethoven sonata or whatever.


But at first, some practice. Now, we have some real resources as human beings with a reason. One of the resources is we can anticipate, for instance, in the morning at the beginning of the day, we can anticipate what's going to happen that day to us. We won't get it all right, but in large measure, we can anticipate the basic things we'll be doing. We can anticipate where are the times when I very much will be pulled aside, very likely in distraction. What are the things that cause me concern, anxiety? Where are the things where I might just be caught up in too much pleasure, etc.? Anticipate this. And then, even at the beginning of the day, some little stratagems. When I meet that person, I'll probably be so nervous and distracted. No, I'm going to make a special effort being aware that that person is image and likeness


of God. And when I see that person, not immediately get into my defensive mode, etc., but immediately be aware God is with them and God is with me, and I'm going to act out of my deepest center in God and reverence the God in them. That kind of thing through anticipation. I've got to do a lot of heavy work cleaning up my place. Okay, but I'm going to resolve before I even start. I'm going to take a break at this point, maybe just a split second or maybe 10 seconds and be with God. That kind of thing. So, one resource is at the beginning of the day, I can anticipate. The second is memory. At the end of the day, I can look back and kind of do a review. Well, I did pretty well up to that point, and then I really got lost. What can I learn from that? And then offer that to God, etc. If we don't learn from our experience, our own personal lived experience, what are we


going to learn from? So, again, at the beginning and the end of each day, work with that day in terms of abiding with God. Then this mysterious brain works amazingly through association. I may forget where, I may forget what. When I'm with that person, I want to be with God with that person. But if I associate, I don't know, the archangel Raphael there with his arm around that person, so I'll see the person, I'll see this huge archangel, something startling and vivid, etc. And that archangel is there loving that person. Well, when I'm with that person, I'm going to be with that person. I'm also going to be aware of the archangel.


That kind of thing. You know, sometimes people tie a string around their finger or something. I always carry this. It's full of notes for that day. And when I lose this, I'm really lost. But this kind of thing. So make your list. I don't know if you all know the Briggs-Myers personality thing, but there are some people who are very structured and they start the day with their list of things they're going to do. They're called J's. Other people are B's. They kind of play it by ear and go with the flow, etc. Well, a J makes his list, but you want to leave space also for God there. Not make it so tight that there's no time. You can just put there a B's for God or something like that. So through association, through lists, prepare for the moment itself. And then I kind of rejoice in that moment through that association.


It might be my place of work. To see that place of work as a little place of worship. And maybe strengthen that association by putting a cross on the wall, if I possibly can. Or an image, as I say, in difficult moments. I've always got Brother Lawrence right there on the computer because the computer can be at a time when I get all lost up in whatever's happening there. But over by my desk also, if it's going to be a difficult bird, I'll put this up there so that he'll see me through that. That kind of thing. So whether it be the crucifix or an image of a favorite saint or whatever it be, to utilize things that will call me back to recollection from my forgetfulness, from my being distracted. Utilize whatever works.


Then we do have this amazing faculty, the will. A fine psychologist, Asa Jolie, who's a disciple of Freud and Jung, and quite a spiritual person. We met him in Italy. But he says the forgotten faculty is the will. If we're into therapy, we've got to be very much in touch with our feelings. What do I feel today? That's very fine. But what do I will today, whatever I feel? I may feel I don't want to get up and make breakfast for myself and my kid. But maybe acknowledging that feeling, working with that feeling, but nevertheless willing to get up and make breakfast for the kid. So little acts of will, of kindness towards people we're not immediately drawn towards or we don't immediately find sympathy. That's a splendid way to make that a moment of prayer also, the doing good.


There's that wonderful bumper sticker, do random acts of kindness. That's right. Once I drove up to the toll gate at the bridge, and the person just waved me through saying, the person in front paid for you. And my words, you know, just these random acts. Well, each one of us can do those random acts, like kind of going against the grain again of our grumpiness or random acts of meanness or something, that kind of thing. But as we engage the will, we engage faith, which is basically an act of the will in knowledge that we do believe in God. And that can become definitely prayer. And then as we use the will explicitly to cleave to God in whatever we're doing,


maybe we're driving and suddenly go slow and we're caught in traffic, irritation, anger. Well, this is a moment to slow down and be with God. The will can, again, acknowledge what we're feeling, that's fine. Not repress that. But not make our immediate affective state kind of the ruler of what we do. So engage the will in this. Kind acts. We had a wonderful reading from Macarius a few days ago. People who really want the gift of prayer, maybe want the gift of abiding in God. He says, all right, but be kind to people, be gentle to people. If you just are kind of rough and thoughtless and not aware of other people's sufferings and their needs, etc., you may go into prayer and be very focused. Maybe you'll have some prayer experiences, but they won't be that full and deep and perduring prayer


because you're not in the right place. Also with your brother or your sister. So utilize anything that will enable you just to, again, come back to the reality, not to live some fantasy thing that God is always here. No, again, in reality, God is always here. And the basic thing of slowing down, I think we've been taught to utilize every second to rush around the wristwatch. I read an interesting essay about whoever came up with the precise clock just revolutionized our culture, not necessarily in a good way. When people had only a kind of an approximate time, approximate sense of the time through where the sun was, for instance, it was a much more leisurely world. So we don't have to count everything by the seconds, you know.


The moment we have to, we have, I don't know, a heavy flu and we have to go to bed and then everything just stops. Well, that's a good lesson to really slow down. There's a person we know who's ultra active, who at least has been ultra active, and rushing around doing wonderful things. But one thing right after another, suddenly she was very much hit with a health thing and she was just down flat on her back for the longest time and by orders of the doctor, couldn't do anything. And so this amazing shift that she had to affect in her life. She said her association with us helped because the whole idea of being monks and the kind of more contemplative pace, even though we can be very busy people also. So just to generally slow down. And then again, at the end of the day, to review the day.


Certain key, let's say, icons or images of God's presence can help us. One is the living person, one is just ourself. Myself, my anguish, my joy, whatever it is. If I become aware of myself, the first step in recollection after distraction, distraction is being torn apart. Recollection is recollecting myself. Coming back to myself is becoming aware of myself. Like Temple of the Holy Spirit. Just slow down a bit, just breathe a bit. Become aware of that rhythm of breathing, this little, again, remembrance that it was God who breathed my life breath into me. And then the whole prayer of Jesus, we'll talk more about that tomorrow morning. But coordinating maybe the breathing with a little prayer. Be aware that I'm here and not elsewhere, etc., etc.


So first of all, just myself. I'm seated here, be aware. Feel the chair, feel the floor, etc. Become a bit aware of this room, of what's happening here, etc. A little less distracted with myself as a temple of the living God. And then again, with any other person, each person is image and likeness of God. What do we do with that? In what way are we image and likeness of God? St. Augustine tended to say, insofar as we have mind, and God is mind, we can ascend to the eternal verities. This is true. Others would say, insofar as we have the spirit, and God is spirit. I like one of the things that St. Francis of Assisi did. He said, insofar as we have a human body, we're image and likeness of God.


Because God became flesh in Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is God of God. Jesus' body is the flesh of God. So insofar as I just have hands and face and eyes, etc., I'm image of God, who with Jesus had hands and face and eyes. It's an interesting incarnate way of understanding how we're image and likeness of God. But each one of us, again, is temple, is tabernacle, is icon of God. And so intentionally to work with that, maybe with someone with whom we live regularly, to more intentionally see them, pray for them. The prayer of intercession. Again, especially pray for our enemies. That's a command of Jesus. Well, that's a wonderful way to soften that relationship and to see that even in that relationship, God is there, that kind of thing.


So in ourselves, in others, in special moments, the meal table is a very sacramental moment. I suspect most of us do say something like a grace much of the time. As good Americans, we're probably going to eat three times a day. Well, if three times a day we come back to this sacramental moment of being with God, that's at least three times a day that we're not just locked into that forgetfulness. The meal is a very biblical space. Remember Abraham and Sarah were the three who came and were fed. And they blessed Abraham and Sarah with a promise, you will have progeny. That's the image as you come into the church, that wonderful icon of the three angels. That's the three angels who are also kind of


a prefiguring of the Holy Trinity as they came and visited Abraham and Sarah. And they're gathered around Eucharist, et cetera. So anytime we have a meal, there's that. Then there was the manna in the desert, that mysterious food from heaven that prefigures Eucharist. Then, of course, there's the Passover meal for Israel. It's so important. And then, of course, the Last Supper and our Passover meal and every Eucharist. But every meal should be a little Eucharist, a little agape. The early Christians had the Eucharist, but then they had their agape meal that was recalling all of this. And then remember Emmaus, this stranger that was walking with the two disciples. They didn't know who he was, but he talked wonderfully about Scripture and showed them the deeper levels of Scripture. Then he had a meal with them,


and he broke bread, and they recognized him in the breaking of the bread. So to claim meal time, it's a wonderful time. It's certainly holistic. We're just feeding our body then. So it's very much in terms of just nourishment to do what we have to do. But it's much more. It's an eminently social time to sit and eat with friends, to sit and eat with family. The meal table is very important. It's where we also acknowledge how totally dependent we are on the larger human family. You know, I didn't go out and grow that wheat and didn't cook the meal, and here it all is. Well, it's an integrative moment. It's a moment of awe and reference, and then that piece of bread and that soup is going to become me, going to give me energy. It's a great mystery.


So to claim that sacramental moment, certainly through grace at the beginning and the end, but also in the moment itself to feed on Christ, whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood, and to think about that as we're eating and drinking, etc. So then the place of work. Most of us are very much involved in work, and the Benedictine motto is prayer and work, and we need both. And you can kind of fudge the borders and say, well, my prayer is work for me sometimes, and my work is prayer. And that's true. They certainly intersect. But to acknowledge the dignity of work in and of itself, but to not obsess with work. This is a real problem with, I think, Americans. The addiction of the workaholic. And it's getting worse and worse.


You know, it's not that people with all these time-saver machines, etc., are working less and less. They're working more and more. And now we have our pagers and buzzers, and we come home and get on email. And it just invades also our non-work space. So to keep boundaries there, to not make a god of our work, the whole thing about... What do they call it? Work rage? Road rage? Pardon me? Road rage? Well, there's road rage, but now they're applying this also to work. You know, these cases of people going to shoot up all their work associates. Then I heard of a recent poll. 25% of the people at work are very angry at any given moment. So, very frustrated. Very in America. So what's happening here? Again, to claim that whole chunk of our day as Christian.


If we just Christianize it, in some way or another, we'll be coming back to being with God. It might be just a big plant in our place of work, which reminds us again of I am the vine, you are the branches. It might be again a crucifix, an image of Brother Lawrence, or whatever it is. But somehow break up the work so it's not just something that possesses me the way an addiction possesses me. But I do it for the glory of God. If there are distracting moments, fine. If I'm involved in a very precise, intricate thing, I want to be there. But again, beforehand say a prayer, afterwards say a prayer, that it all be to God's glory. And to do some work. Am I sure that this is upbuilding the human family in some way? If what I'm doing isn't, if what I'm doing is destructive to humans


or the human family, I better get out of it. If I'm peddling drugs or something like that. But if I'm doing something, if I'm teaching or a nurse or a doctor or whatever it is, it basically helps the human family move forward, working in a grocery store, that I can do that offering unto God and, again, with that consolation of that union of will with God in the doing of it. And then it can more and more become suffused with the light of God's presence. Any comments, questions about that? Yes? I've heard that Tom Monaghan, who's the founder of Domino's Pizza, in the corporate headquarters, has put a chapel, a chapel so that he encouraged people to come. That's good. During the day. But the interesting side of that


is other, who go on to an organization and other people have asked them how they can get this done. And they've been stymied, for the most part, by the religion state, the religion infringement, first amendment, first rights, that type of thing. A lot of companies have tried to effect that and they can't. That's kind of a sad commentary. Yeah, those all of us who work at home, we can have a little prayer corner. We can really have recourse to icons, images, etc. Whatever brings us back to realize my words, God is also here and I'm doing this for God and through God. And then again, little moments of interruption. It can be five seconds, it can be just a split second of getting my breath and invoking God just with a word, a prayer of aspiration. My God, help me in this. Are you running with me, Jesus?


What was the name of the author of that? Malcolm Boyd. He was busy as an Episcopal priest in all kinds of pastoral work, so he wrote this book, Are You Running With Me, Jesus? to see Jesus in the, I don't know, the parishioner who's angry that flowers are no longer put the way they used to be and with the young alcoholic and the whole range of things through a day. But to Christianize our work. You've got a little ansel. The door. Yes? I just wanted to, on the meal, I really enjoyed those things. You know, there's also Jesus was feeding Peter following up the resurrection. Oh, yeah. Feeding the 5,000. Yep. But then it dawned on me that the first reference in Scripture about a meal went awry with Adam and Eve. There you are. You've got to be careful.


That's right. And that's where the whole thing, the addiction to food can come in. Gluttony. Yeah, so you've got to be careful there. And the presence of God helps us eat well, eat within moderation, eat enough. There's a terrible problem, anorexia now. You know, these young people, mostly girls, but also boys, kind of starve themselves to death. Well, they're not eating with God, you know. They're somewhere else. Not to mention the whole thing of overweight, etc. So, absolutely. Another key element, a door. Pick out just a door in your life that you pass through two, three, four, five, six times a day. That can be a reminder. Or a hallway, or a stairway. They're all kind of elements of transition. And that can be when we're the most distracted. We've finished one thing, and we're rushing on to another. But know just to go,


and I am the door, says Jesus. Or another image, I stand at the door and knock. But that each transition be a transition, maybe from distractedness, but now going into more of a mindfulness. And before I get to the next place, offer up that new engagement, of commitment, challenge, whatever it is. But the door is archetypical. We go through doors. We pass from one thing to another. I am the door, John 10, 7. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. Apocalypse 320, etc. So, we are in this life always in transition and utilize that. Maybe a stairway, that's extremely archetypical. You know, it can appear in dreams and this kind of thing. Sometimes that so-called anxiety dream is we don't know where we are,


and there's all these corridors, and we can't find our way. But when we know where we're coming from and where we're going, that's a real consolation. And to offer that to God. The whole of God's creation, trees. If you can look out your window and see a beautiful tree, that's extremely archetypical all the way through starting with Genesis and the tree of life and the other tree. And finally, the tree of life, which is the cross kind of thing. But that each of us is also a tree with our deepest root system and then the trunk and the whole leaves. But to claim that of animals, if you have dogs or cats or something, remember, they're creatures of God. A wonderful t-shirt there with a wolf. All these amazing creatures of God were rediscovering all this through also ecology and through rediscovering people like St. Francis of Assisi


and the medieval monks who so revered nature. It's all revelation. The theologians talk about natural revelation of creation because God made all these things. So, you know, one could just do an infinite number of homilies just about this one plant or also a careful, what would you call it, arrangement of dried plants, etc. But anything that has to do with nature, clouds and sky and sun or fog or whatever it would be can bring us back to God one way or another. So get more in touch with nature, some gardening. Then the inner states, to become aware. I think therapy helps us to be wise there,


to be aware if I'm angry, not just to deny it or to be aware if I'm happy, to be aware of what makes me happy, to be aware of what makes me joyful. Each one of these states can be a place where I encounter the living God. Sorrow. Well, Jesus is the man of sorrows. In sorrow, I'm in touch with the deep sorrow of Jesus and the sorrow of all of humanity. So without looking for sorrow, we don't want to get into a kind of masochistic thing, that can be a place where very much I can be with God. Fear. Some psychologists say this is the fundamental thing. You know, I'm no good at all. I'm nothing. I'm going to die. Whatever it be, I've offended God. To be there, stay with the fear. And in that fear and trembling,


invoke God, the only one who can really see us through also the final, primordial fear of death, which again also Jesus went through. So to acknowledge that. Not to mention joy. Unfortunately, in our happier, positive, affective states, that's where we can be the most distracted of all. But again, as Jesus says, in moments when there's really occasion to be thankful, to go back and thank the Lord, we lose something. I lose something at least once every other day. You know, the anxiety, the concern, the anger. Then when you find something, the rejoicing and the thanking God. I read this funny little phrase that people who never lose anything don't have the joy of rediscovering them. So there's the parable of the woman who found the coin lost


and so calls in the relatives and celebrates, etc. So whatever it is, to be aware of where am I, it might just be a calm peace, good. That's an ideal medium for communion with God. The whole Eastern Christian tradition is called the Hesychast tradition. Hesychia in Greek means peace, tranquility, quiet. We should be wanting to so structure our lives that at least there are good chunks of peace and quiet. My peace I give you, not as the world gives peace. This is the first gift of the risen Lord, peace. So to claim that peace and to let that peace be where we encounter the God of peace. Not to mention love, etc., etc. So all this can be a vehicle, can be medium, can be you


for encountering the living God. Moments of decision, they're key moments. I've got to decide going this way or this way. Well, I'm brought up to my humanity, to my limits. I can't do both. I've got to either go this way or that way. The risk, I'm not infallible, etc. But I think given everything, I can go this way and I ask God's inspiration. I ask God to be with me. Moments of decision can be truly moments of communing with God. Moments of temptation, that can be God knocking. The Desert Fathers, one struggled all his life with a particular temptation. Suddenly it passed and another spiritual father said, you better pray that that temptation returns because you've become too soft and too spiritually prideful,


etc. The moment of temptation. Also, even the moment of sin. Afterwards, not in the sinning, but the contrition afterwards. There's that, again, phrase of St. Paul, all things work to the good of the one who loves God. And St. Augustine commented on that. Even sin, et siam peccata, again, if in the sinning, after the sinning, I'm brought back to my humanity. So also walking, jogging, any kind of exercise we do, certainly encountering the Scripture. The moment at the end of the day of going to sleep, that's a very mysterious world that requires trust, that requires an opening up to this mysterious realm of the unconscious, to peacefully go to sleep in God.


It's a wonderful way to enter into that. Some people are terrified of sleep, do anything not to, just lie down and rest. But ours is a God who invites us to peace and rest. Requiem aeterna, give them eternal rest, we pray for our deceased. So to enjoy that moment as a giving myself over to the mystery. There be nightmares and horrors, somehow God will see me through that also. But to enjoy this sacrament of sleep. Jung said it's not that sleep is there in function to our waking hours, it's rather that our waking hours are in function to sleep. He thought that these integrative dreams are so powerful and so important, whatever you do with that.


But don't see the sleeping time as just a means, and don't try to reduce it to a minimum or something like that. Enjoy sleep and all the mysterious integration that it can achieve at the subconscious. Not to mention then the getting up, refreshed at the beginning of the day. This is a basic resurrectional symbol. I rise up to a new day. That's what Christ does on Easter morn. So the whole thing can be, whether it be places, whether it be others, whether it be doing things, whether it be psychic states, whatever, to claim them in faith as Christian as it is, to claim them as a place where I can abide in God. Any comments, questions, additions, subtractions? Jews put a sign on their doorpost.


Really? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, all the symbols. Well, most Catholics, you know, can wear a cross. We are very much into symbols. I think it kind of startles some of our Protestant brothers and sisters. But yeah, whatever helps to bring back the memory that God is really present. Yes. Yeah, we had this wonderful recluse. And she just slept on this board.


In the middle of the board, had been put another cross in wood. So she slept on that. I think at least these are exceptional. The Italians who have been around with Roman Catholicism so long, they have this wonderful phrase in Latin, this kind of thing is to be more admired than imitated. And St. Francis himself at the end of his life asked forgiveness from God for being too tough on brother bodies. So at least if you're going to get into that kind of thing, check it out very well with a spiritual director because it can possibly say that Ignatius of Loyola was very tough on himself at Magresa. And then he discerned it very carefully and God was saying, no, just eat better. It's with your health that you're going to be serving God. We've got, yes?


Just another problem, seeing God in adversity. How did you manage when El Nino hit? Did you really feel El Nino? Did you feel God's presence and comfort in a tragedy or rather a problem that El Nino caused? Often there is just the anxiety and it's very difficult to pray in some moments. Afterwards, looking back, I think most of us would say our community was strengthened by it. It was an occasion of grace. And in the moment, we felt our, what technically called contingency, our dependence on nature. So in its own way, it was certainly, we didn't handle it as well as we might, but that was certainly an occasion of grace. To me, something like this is very frightening. Yeah. What do you do in the moment?


Am I looking back at something? But when you're in the moment, what do you do? Well, the psalmist teaches, I think, pray the fear, pray the terror. Lord, I'm, you won't necessarily get an easy answer. Maybe El Nino will continue for months. But just the prayer is extremely meritorious to use Catholic language. It's worth much more than when I'm sleeping in bed, I'm very comfortable, et cetera. So when Jesus sweats blood, you may be as close to God then to use paradoxical language. Or on the cross, that's our central image of Jesus on the cross. That wasn't an easy time, convinced that God had abandoned him at some level of his psychic mind. We've got Vespers in about nine minutes, so hopefully there's time for those who want to rush off somewhere and wash your hands or something. So we go from talking about prayer to prayer.


But as you go out the door and as you go down the corridor and as you, whatever you do, think that the before and the after and the during, it's all in God. Thank you.