All the stereotypes of introversion describe my life: I recharge with alone time; I prefer a small gathering of close friends to a big party; I don’t make friends easily but when I make a friend I really make a friend. One thing that’s misunderstood about introverts is the idea that we don’t like to talk. We do like to talk, but we hate small talk. Put me in a meet-and-greet situation where it’s chit-chat about gossip and the weather over finger food and I’m making up an excuse to escape. Give me a one-on-one situation and we’re talking about things of significance, and I don’t want the conversation to stop. I’ve had pastoral visits where we get past the how-are-yous and weather talk and we really get to talking about the things of life and faith, and I’ve lost track of time and I’m wishing the conversation wouldn’t end.
We’ve all, introvert or extrovert, had these conversations, where the food on the table is all eaten and the wait staff is turning the sign at the restaurant door to “Closed,” but we’re still there, talking until they make us move. We know what it’s like to mine into the mother lode of a good conversation where the sharing is so rich and so good that we don’t want an ending. The Practice of the Presence of God is a report from deep conversations between Brother Lawrence and another who wrote recollections of the conversations. The real conversation, though, is with God. And what Lawrence encourages is a conversation with God: “That we should establish ourselves in a sense of God’s presence, by continually conversing with him.” What Brother Lawrence envisions is a life lived in non-stop conversation with God, where God’s presence is not something we occasionally drop in on but is regularly experienced.
I’ve had prayers I didn’t want to stop, where the chatter in my mind disappeared and it was just me and God and nothing else mattered. Maybe that conversation is constantly there, just waiting for me to find it again. What if it could be like that all the time, where we went through our day being present to all whom we encountered but we were also present to God who is always there, and if we simply awoke to God’s presence we might find a regular conversation we wouldn’t want to ever end?
"In drawing up its regulations, we hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome." - Rule of St. Benedict