Mindfulness in the 1600s

The Practice of The Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

I’m reading about mindful meditation. Brother Lawrence, a monk in the 1600s, promised he would live day and night, in good and bad times, in God. He spent many years practising the presence of God in his life. His key to this practice was that he strove to be consciously aware of God’s presence at all times, which seems the true epitome of (Christian) mindfulness.
To me it means that with everything I do, I ask myself if I’m acting in the best consciousness and ethical conscientiousness. For me this means that I need to be aware and practise self-discipline, carefulness,  and thoroughness. It is very easy to wander away from awareness and thoroughness, like with any meditation. If this happens, I bring myself back into the presence of God. It is a wonderful meditation, but not an easy one. Having said that, the more you do this, the longer the stretches of time of being in God, or being mindful, do occur.

I started to read this tiny book months ago, and I do return to it often, because Brother Lawrence’s promise still inspires. To purposefully enjoy God’s presence, or mindfulness, in your life, is like opening up to small miracles. Pouring tea becomes a meditation and so does watering the flowers on the balcony. It is still a bit hard to feel the presence of God while paying bills (and all other worldly and bureaucratic chores ), but to stay mindful, to stay open for the presence of God non-stop is what it is about. And when I succeed, I feel a happy appreciation for the smallest things in life.

Titus van Rijn by Rembrandt

Rembrandt’s master work of his son, Titus van Rijn, in a monk’s habit
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Is this book only for Christians? Not at all. I recommend it to all people who are interested in the spiritual life. It is about mindfulness in the 1600s. Thich Nhat Hanh says, in one of his many books that I’ve read, that if you need the address of God, he will give it to you; it is Here and Now. Brother Lawrence would probably have said: God’s address is being in the presence of God.
Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Stag beetle, Lucanus cervus

Postcard Stag Beetle by Albrecht Dürer (1505), drawing by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Stag beetles live in some places in Belgium and the Netherlands, but they are hard to find these days. They seem to belong to the past, to the time of Albrecht Dürer. However, in the east of the Netherlands, in an area that I know well, there are two places designed for Stag beetles to lay eggs in rotting and fungi covered oak wood. They are ‘Stag beetle nurseries’ or ‘Stag beetle log piles’, in Dutch they are referred to as ‘Hertenstoven‘. By offering the few living Stag beetles nurseries, conversationalists hope to save stag beetles from extinction.

Have you ever seen a Stag beetle? Do they live in your area?

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist, Author & Expat

@mindfuldrawing on Instagram