March 30, 2012

Lenten Spiritual Exercise: Knowing, But Not Seeing

One of my favorite films, Wim Winders' Wings of Desire, and a lesser knock-off (City of Angels) inspired me to practice a spiritual exercise which has helped me tremendously.

In both films, angels who have assumed (from the viewer's perspective) human form live among real humans, observe our actions, and attempt to comfort us in times of sadness or confusion. Ironically (and unfortunately), neither film explores how God actually comforts those who follow Him. Still, in both films, key characters make this assertion: "I can't see you, but I know you're there (or here)."

I can't see God, but I know He's here. From early years Sunday School lessons to readings of Brother Lawrence's The Practice of the Presence of God, some of us have struggled to remind ourselves of God's constant and unavoidable presence in every space and in every place.

Reflecting on the message of both films, I created this practice and invite you to join me in it for these final days of Lent (and beyond, if you wish).

1. Begin your day with a morning prayer of no more than 3 minutes. In that prayer, ask God to remind you throughout the day of His presence.

2. For every hour of your waking time, tell yourself  (silently or aloud) three times per hour: "God, I can't see you, but I know you are here." Repeat this sentence three times during every hour you are awake.

3. End your day with a prayer that tomorrow, you will become increasingly aware of God's presence. In that prayer, ask God to grant you good rest as you accept His presence with you while you sleep.

If you choose to engage in this practice during this last week of Lent, give careful attention to how this practice changes your view of God's closeness. I hope you will be blessed.

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