15 April 2009

"Give me the presence or I die!"

Last weekend at the retreat center, the room I stayed in was called "Beth-el" -the dwelling of God.

As I read and prayed and slept in that room, I felt the blessing of God's presence melting my crust, drawing out the core of what is true about me, that I am God's beloved daughter. So much else in life tries to define my identity. But that piece, my core role as God's beloved is true no matter what.

In addition to a welcome space to rest, my room had some great resources to help guide my retreat time. One of them was the following passage which completely resonated with my heart and my desperation for retreating.

Let me know you think!

There is a practice of the presence of God
which is done on the run in the busiest of days,
in office, and schoolroom and kitchen.
Little prayers and communion;
ejaculations of surrender & joy and exaltation;
if it didn't sound silly to say it,
little snugglings of our soul moving nearer to God.
Most of our lives can be lived this way,
as divine conversation of our soul with God,
going on behind the scenes all the time.

But then come crucial periods in life
when the quest grows hot,
when the hot breath of the Hound of Heaven is at our heels,
when the heart cries out,
"Give me the Presence or I die!"

And these are the times when we get
beneath the conventional mildness of average religiosity
and find Him more fully, who is dearer than life itself.
From these women and mean will come the profound return to religion,
ie, the love of God and neighbor,
which is so desperately needed."

-Thomas Kelly The Eternal Promise (1938)

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