Oasis of Presence

Ivan came to work the garden this morning. “Your garden,” he said “should be called an Oasis of Love.” What a wonderful thought! I remember one of our guests saying recently that “Practicing presence is our ministry.” Perhaps all of Centering Space is an “Oasis of Presence”

Practicing presence is acknowledging the hand of God in all that surrounds us: signs of divine energy in the sparrows, the red-winged blackbirds, the nuthatches, the red-bellied woodpeckers and even the starlings sharing and quibbling at the suet baskets; signs of divine artistry in the yellow daffodils, purple myrtle and surprise primroses that have bloomed so early this year; signs of divine promise in the buds swelling on a variety of twigs and branches. There is the stability of rock and soil and the ethereal reality of clouds and sky. All of creation is reminder of God’s creative desire that life should go on.

Then, of course, there is divine presence in Ivan, the gardener, Joe, the mail carrier, those who come to pray and even in myself. All who come and bless this space with their human presence are bringers of divine presence as well. After all, how else does God come?

Once in an upper room, Jesus stood in the midst of his friends and said “Peace be with you.” Remember, they weren’t sitting there expecting him. Outside of that place there was chaos. Soldiers were looking for upstarts like the friends of Jesus. They were anxiously huddled together in fear. I imagine them letting their common grief lead to anger and thoughts of revenge or retaliation. Suddenly Jesus is there offering them peace, calm, trust. Jesus is divine presence. “Peace! Calm down! Remember it is love we are about. Remember ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who persecute you.’ Remember!”

The chaos of that time is similar to that which is being expressed in our world today. Fear and ignorance give rise to anger and hatred at home and abroad. We often find ourselves huddling together with like-minded folks railing against whoever the “others” are. As a matter of fact, each one of us is called to be the presence of Jesus in whatever group we find ourselves. Remember “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.” Speak well of those who you don’t much like. Find the good in those who are different from you.

How did the presence of Jesus in that upper room change the world? If you are changed, the world is changed. If you live in love and peace, the divine presence is where you are. After all, how else does God come?


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