How aware are you of God’s presence? And not the surface-level “Jesus is always with us” lip-service stuff. I’m talking about the deep-rooted awareness of God’s presence. The recognition that God’s presence is in the rhythm of the heartbeat of everything, including not just where we are, but also in the things we do.
God’s Presence in the Kitchen
This weekend, Merridith and I decided to brave the frigid Atlanta weather and get some tacos at one of our favorite restaurants, La Fonda Cantina. It’s sort of a blend of Cuban and Mexican food, but they seriously have the best chips, salsa, and chicken tacos in town.
When we walked in, we aimed to sit as far away from the front door as possible (think: cold winter air blowing in), so we sat toward the back by the kitchen. It gave us a front row seat to all the action behind the scenes, whether it was the chefs at the grill or the wait staff running food. But for me, I noticed the guy washing dishes.
God’s Presence in the Dishwasher
I don’t know about you, but whenever I think of dishwashers in the back of restaurants, I think of very unhappy people. I imagine a teenage kid slamming a plate against the side of a trash can, tossing it despondently into a tray, blasting it with hot water, and moving on to the next inconvenience.
That’s not what I witnessed in this kitchen.
The person washing dishes was an older African American man. He didn’t look bothered by what he was doing, but grateful. He took great care in the way he handled the dishes. He gently wiped each plate from its debris and stacked it strategically into a tray. Then he rinsed each piece with warm water, making sure it was spotless before placing it in the sanitizer.
He captivated me because he moved with such grace. He washed dishes like he was doing a dance with the Divine. It made me wish that I went about my work in the same way.
Brother Lawrence on Practicing God’s Presence
Brother Lawrence was a 17th century French monk who is well-known for his “practice” of the presence of God at all times. Here’s a little excerpt from The Practice of the Presence of God, which is exactly what the man in the kitchen made me think of:
And it was observed that in the greatest hurry of business in the kitchen [Brother Lawrence] still preserved his recollection and heavenly-mindedness. He was never hasty nor loitering, but did each thing in its season, with an even uninterrupted composure and tranquility of spirit. “The time of business,” said he, “does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.” (p. 30)
Becoming Aware of God’s Presence
Don’t you wish you were aware of God’s with-ness with you in that way? Don’t you wish you could go about the mundane tasks of your day, whether entering data into Excel spreadsheets, reviewing resumes, answering phones, waiting tables, steaming lattes, or even washing dishes, and be engulfed in the beauty of the Divine saturated in every fiber of what you’re doing?
I do — and I’m going to commit myself to being more aware of that today. Will you?