Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Show Me Your Presence

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 -- Week of 4 Easter
Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, 373

Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 961)
Psalms  119:49-72 (morning)        //        49, [53] (evening)
Exodus 33:1-23
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
Matthew 5:17-20

[Go to for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]

Today's reading from Exodus speaks of Moses' practice of communion with God in the tent of meeting.  We hear the dialogue.  God charges Moses to take the people into the promised land.  But Moses seeks assurance that God will actually be with him and with the people.  Moses seeks a more intimate knowledge of God.  He speaks to God, saying "Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight."

I remember being on retreat at an Ignatian monastery many years ago.  I had withdrawn into my own tent of meeting in my cell, reading scripture and practicing the particular kind of meditation taught in the Ignatian tradition.  I was reading Isaiah.  As my heart and mind went into the reading, I had a deep longing, not unlike Moses'.  I sensed God's love and care for me.  But I yearned for something else.  What does it feel like to know you deeply, God?  Show me your presence, I asked. 

I've never been able to describe what happened next.  But I sensed a presence in the room, behind and above me.  It was like I could see, but not see, a faint color in the ceiling corner to my left.  The atmosphere was charged and tingling with energy.  My heart quickened with an anticipation, and then with some fullness that I can't describe.  Simultaneous with my unspoken question, "Is this?  Is this what God feels like?" the presence/energy moved across the back of the room, and I felt something like a cosmic laugh saying, "YES!!  Yes, this is what God feels like!"  The benevolent joy seemed to laugh at and with me over my little longings, and to fill them with something so immense that it was as if the stars were laughing with God at the joke and were twinkling with a happiness shared by us all.

Then it was over, except for a tingling sense of peace and aliveness that shared something with Dame Julian's vision that all is well, that "all shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well."  I felt a joy and fullness that seemed so comprehensive that it left nothing but gratefulness and peace.

God said to Moses, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."  Moses asked for a bit of evidence.  God promised to place Moses in the cleft of a rock and cover Moses with the divine hand.  "Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen."  Tomorrow we will read of this theophany.  With the assurance of this deeper revelation, a distraught Moses -- who has just endured the rebellion of the golden calf, the breaking of the tablets of stone, and the violent deaths of three thousand -- will remake the stone tablets, return renewed to Mount Sinai, and hear the Name of God spoken to him -- "a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness..."  In the energy of that presence, Moses will be healed and empowered to continue his journey.


Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Go to:

About Morning Reflections
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at

Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at

Our Rule of Life: 
We aspire to...
    worship weekly
    pray daily
    learn constantly
    serve joyfully 
    live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


At 2:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lowell,

Just lovely - seeing, touching, tasting, knowing the deeper spiritual reality even for a moment dazzles us. Sometimes when I walk these quiet roads the clouds all rush in and it is if I am breathing in the whole universe, or swallowing the entire natural world, or my heart is pouring out love and the universe is responding. Very sense oriented and very connective moments. I'm glad you share these moments with us though words don't seem adequate to touch the immense peace and love that God is.

Peace and light,

At 8:37 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Thanks for your post from a couple of days ago. It sounds like your surroundings in Big Sky country are so conducive to your own sense of prayer and spirituality.


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