“Practicing the Presence” can sometimes seem like an elusive thing. Often, that is because we have certain expectations about the outcome… what the divine will look like in our lives. Other times, it is because there is no real formula for success. It is more about practice than perfection. For some of us that is a challenging thought… especially if we want to measure results.
Practicing the presence is more about desire, inquisitiveness and grace. We practice certain spiritual rituals such as prayer, dwelling in scripture, and contemplation because we believe that God is present and we long to notice and experience the grace of the moment when our longing is unexpectedly filled by God’s love.
As I ponder the very peculiar story of Moses and the burning bush, I am struck with three important practices:
1. He is doing his ordinary job… out in the desert tending his father in law’s sheep. Sometimes we miss out on God all together because we have inadvertently set up boundaries and limitations as to where this might occur. Most of us think of God showing up at a church rather than in the laundry room where we fold laundry in the morning. We can practice looking for God in the ordinary stuff of our lives.
2. He is inquisitive. Moses notices that a bush is burning without being consumed… so he breaks from his routine and moves closer to examine what is going on. Many of us have blinders on when it comes to our daily chores and routines which makes it difficult for us to notice something extraordinary about the ordinary. We can practice being inquisitive about our God sightings and grace moments with the idea that these moments may be doorways into springs of spirit refreshment.
3. He takes time to reverence the holy. When God speaks to Moses in the most ordinary place through the most extraordinary bush, Moses removes his sandals as a sign of reverence. He fully embraces the moment of grace at hand. Here is where we often fall short in our practices. Too many times we may experience a momentary glimpse of God’s spirit through a song, or a person, a sunrise or a scripture, but we don’t take time to linger in that moment and fully embrace richness of God’s grace.
Maybe we don’t where sandals that we can remove and surely most of us don’t tend sheep out in the desert, but we can develop gestures and words for noticing the God moments in our day. My hunch is, the more we notice, name, explore and embrace these moments, the more enriched and fulfilled our lives will become. Like anything else… it takes a little practice.