I’ve recently been reading a new book on spiritual practices or disciplines by Brian McLaren titled “Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words.” I’ve only made it through a handful of chapters at this point, so it’s a little premature to offer any overall assessments. But I’ve already been blessed by the first of McLaren’s “12 Simple Words”—the word “Here.”
As McLaren puts it, “Here is the simple word by which we show up, responding to the One calling our name. Here is the way we name where we are—pleasant or unpleasant, desired or not—and declare ourselves present to God’s presence.” As I read it, McLaren is advocating the same kind of goal that one finds expressed in Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence of God and Frank Laubach’s Game with Minutes: a simple-yet-focused awareness of the reality of God’s abiding nearness. His ‘spiritual exercise’ for cultivating this awareness is tantalizingly simple. At any time and in any place, one can simply bring to mind this thought: “Here I Am. Here you are. Here we are together.”
Of course, McLaren lays the groundwork for this exercise by unpacking several biblical examples of divine-human encounters. And he points out that successfully cultivating an awareness of God’s presence ultimately requires time spent alone with God so that we can still ‘make the connection’ when we’re immersed in the rush of daily life. In this way, his simple word “Here” references what might more traditionally be called the disciplines of solitude and/or centering prayer.
But over the last few days, I’ve found that this single-word approach does have a certain power. Creating just the tiniest space for my heart to say, “Here” focuses me on the reality that I want to live in this moment (and not some other), and on the truth that God is with me in this moment. And for that, I give thanks.