I didn’t intend to but I broke into a sanctuary. I bit too far into my apple causing the core to be exposed just a little. As I slightly turned the apple I stared at the different sections of the core. There were chambers arranged in a circle and in each chamber a black seed rested peacefully. I also saw bunches of tiny black specks that looked like tiny seeds. Holy apple! What in the world is going on in there?
Of course, this wasn’t the first time I broke into the apple sanctuary, but it was the first time I realized what I had done. I had been thinking about my core. What is going on inside me? Where are my thoughts? Is there a peaceful serenity? Are things arranged properly?
I’ve been pondering those questions because I’ve been reading portions of a book that I read many years ago—The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. Brother Lawrence was a 17th century Carmelite lay brother who worked in a kitchen in Paris. He is known for his practice of concentrating on God even among the clanging of his pots and pans. Re-reading his book—mostly a compilation of his letters—has caused me to stare into his core and I’m enamored by what I see. Let me quote a section.
I consider myself the most wretched of men, full of sores and corruption, and who has committed all sorts of crimes against his King. Touched with a sensible regret, I confess to Him all my wickedness, I ask for His forgiveness, I abandon myself in His hands that He may do what He pleases with me. The King, full of mercy and goodness, very far from chastising me, embraces me with love, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the key of His treasures; He converses and delights Himself with me incessantly, in a thousand and a thousand ways, and treats me in all respects as His favorite. It is thus I consider myself from time to time in His holy presence (pgs. 36-7).
Could there be anything more beautiful happening inside the human heart? That’s what I want to be going on inside me. Brother Lawrence’s description reminds me of Jesus’ promise in Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (ESV). It also brings to mind Paul’s words: “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Eph. 3:17).
What’s happening in your core? Are you having intimate communion with Christ?
Brother Lawrence would tell us that our conscious connection with God does not depend on external stimuli. We don’t have to fast and go on retreats all the time. We don’t have to listen to sermons all day. We don’t have to sit in solitude. Of course, there’s a time and place for those things, but here’s the point: Our inner sanctuary—our connection and communion with Christ—can be activated at anytime and in any place. Whether the apple is in the fridge, or on the counter, or in a lunch bag, the core remains a pristine sanctuary.
What does your core look like? I want mine to look like Brother Lawrence’s.