Practice Of The Presence

This last few months I’ve had much time for thought. I’ve been less active physically due to my eye problem, though I’ve still managed to produce artwork, thank goodness.

It goes without saying that a spell of introspection does us all good. But introspection can be a painful activity, often productive of self-doubt and self-criticism: not a good state to be in.

This is how I’ve felt lately with regard to my Christian walk.

Questions flood the mind: “What are you doing that’s of use to the Lord?   Why, you’re not even in the marketplace, not even in close contact with many people.   What good is this life you’re living?”  That’s how the enemy works.  The results are the sins of doubt and unbelief.

I’ve been on the backside of the desert one way and another for more than 12 years, battling this type of mindset.  Now the war intensified….

So I cried out to Him for help – and sure enough it came, in a form something like a door being kicked open.   Praise the Lord  – a complete change of mindset?   It’s interesting how this came about.

Way back in a former life, I was a student of Classics at the University of Auckland, studying Latin and Ancient Greek with a much-loved Head of Department, Prof E M Blaiklock.

A brilliant writer, scholar and lecturer, he inspired us all. His writings and translations live on, and not only in the world of classics. For 40 years he wrote without fail a weekly column published in The New Zealand Herald and the Weekly News  under the pen name ‘Grammaticus‘.   A quick glance at his entry on Wikipedia gives some idea of the vastness of his other written work.

I’ve recently re-read his ‘The Century Of The New Testament – maybe the first time in all the years I’ve had the book that I read it right through.  It is a great exposition of the history of the Mediterranean world leading up to the century from the birth of Christ to the death of His longest-lived apostle John.  This book is written from the strict perspective of a historian, and it is fascinating.   The author’s deep knowledge of his subject-matter – the Middle East, Greece, Rome – stands out: it’s like being back in lectures again.

Searching Blaiklock’s name on Trade Me, I bought another of his books: ‘The Acts Of The Apostles‘ – more of a commentary, it demands concurrent reading of the Book of Acts, so I’m working on that.

Recently though, my standing search on Blaiklock’s name brought up something else – ‘The Practice Of The Presence Of God‘ by Brother Lawrence, translated by E M Blaiklock – no doubt from the Latin.   I’d never heard of it, but a light flashed on in my head – “You need this book!”  Okay, okay…

Quick research revealed that Brother Lawrence was a humble 17th century lay monk in a monastery near Paris.  His daily work was lowly – labor in the monastery kitchen and mending sandals for his fellow monks. Nevertheless, his teachings became sought after.  Collected after his death by Abbe de Beaufort, envoy of the Cardinal of Noailles, they have gained an enormous worldwide reputation and influence, and multiple editions and translations of the work.

I snapped the book up.   It is still in the mail.

More quick research soon revealed an enormous wealth of commentary and quotation of Brother Lawrence on the Internet.   For those who cannot get the physical book, there is probably no need, because the volume of quotes and reference to Brother Lawrence’s work on the net is so vast.

Next post, I will talk about what this monk and his writings have to offer for us all.


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