There is a beautiful story of a young boy on the coast of Maine who asks an old sailor, “What is the wind?” The sailor scratches his head and answers, “I don’t really know. I can’t tell you…but I know how to hoist a sail.”
We don’t really know what “The Presence” is, but we can surely speak of what we have seen it do. Those of us in recovery have experienced the miracle-working power of The Presence in our own lives and in the lives of others. We have seen, heard and felt a power greater than ourselves-so much greater-moving in us, pushing us through the tumultuous waters of addiction, and steering us into the peaceful waters of a new life in recovery.
The Presence of God is always with us and within us. Even in the deep, dark, painful moments of our past, The Presence was constantly with us and within us. We just couldn’t feel it. Addiction robs us of the ability to connect with anything beautiful…and The Presence is most beautiful. It is light. It is love. It is peace. It is power. It is healing. It is comforting. It is the guiding, all-encompassing, unconditional love of God in expression, and we are all worthy of it – regardless of where we have been or what we have done.
The Presence expresses through our thoughts and beliefs, through our experiences and pain, through our loved ones and strangers, through the inspired works of artists and authors, and the indescribable beauty of nature. The Presence is always with us, within us, and all around us.
Our most important work is simply to be awake and aware…to seek The Presence in all that we do. The Spiritual Path is a path of awakening to seeking and paying attention to The Presence. Our work begins as we let go, as we clear out the wreckage of a painful past and turn our attention to The Presence. As we clear our consciousness of guilt, shame, regret, sadness, anger, fear, and self-loathing, we make room for The Presence to fill us and bless us. We are blessed the instant we surrender and ultimately accept The Presence as belonging to us.
“The Practice of the Presence of God” is a beautiful book of collective teachings by Brother Lawrence, a 17th century Carmelite monk dedicated to the work of seeking or seeing the Presence of God in every moment of his life-from peeling potatoes to kneeling in prayer. By constantly “seeing” and feeling God in every moment, Brother Lawrence lived a life of constant hope, joy, peace and total fulfillment.
So, like Brother Lawrence, we must practice. We must practice being aware of The Presence in every moment. How do we accomplish this? By talking to The Presence like a friend all day long. In the quiet of your heart just say hello…or thank you…or help…or I love you. By listening to The Presence all day long-in the song of a bird…in the words of a stranger…in the laughter of a child…or in the holy hush of silence. By feeling The Presence in the touch of a loved on …in the bright rays of the sun on your face…in the fear of surrender…and in the peace of letting go.
The 139th Psalm is a powerful reminder of The Always-Present Presence:
Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there.
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
And settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
Even there your hand shall lead me.
And your right hand shall hold me fast.
Allow yourself to be enfolded in The Presence and rest. You will walk with a new sense of assurance and peace, and you will know that you are never alone. There is nothing that you cannot overcome, change, heal, forgive, accomplish, or become-as you awaken to the power of The Presence always with you and within you.