Finding the “Inner Presence” that is God

Finding the “Inner Presence” that is God February 22, 2024


Inner Presence
Anne Nygard via Unsplash

Are you familiar with the “signs of the cross”? As a child and teen, I attended mass at the beautifully ornate St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Bloomfield, New Jersey. Once during each service, we would engage in the signs of the cross, or what Richard Rohr refers to it as the “body prayer.” We would recite the words found in Matthew 28:19, “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” while touching our forehead, our heart, and then both shoulders.

As a non-practicing Catholic, I hadn’t thought of “the signs” in years, until I picked up the book The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation by Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell. The book is loosely about the Father, Son, Holy Spirit trinity mentioned above, and what Rohr refers to as “the Trinitarian flow.” But one does not have to fully understand or embrace the Trinity to come away with wisdom from Rohr’s writings.

A modern-day mystic, Rohr has always been a believer in having a direct relationship with God. He blames institutional religion for keeping God “out there,” removed from the experience of our own heart, soul and mind. In his words, “we’ve given people the impression that the pope could know for us, or the experts could know for us, or the Bible could know for us—that we have second-hand knowledge of holy things.”

Yet, with Rohr’s guidance, we can see that a first-hand knowledge of the holy is obtainable for all of us. What follows are key passages from The Divine Dance which I have stitched together in a narrative whole and organized into categories. The thinking below is all Rohr’s, his exact words in quotes. In other places, I have lightly edited his message and interspersed a few thoughts of my own.

You realize everything is connected to everything else.

The greatest dis-ease facing humanity right now is our profound and painful sense of disconnection. We are often disconnected from God, from ourselves, and from each other. But if we take a closer look, we will see that, like the Trinity, everything is connected.

“The pattern of the neurons, protons and atoms is similar to the pattern of the planets, stars and galaxies. Both are in orbit and all is relational to everything else.” There is a deep-seeded interconnectedness between all things from the atoms that make up everything in life, to the cosmic dance of the solar system.

You view the world as a mirror.

When you see things from a contemplative point of view, you gaze out into the universe like you would look into a mirror. As you take in the world around you, it reflects back to you what you see in it. “When you look into the mirror with love and goodness, they are reflected back.” Light begets light and, in time, this light intensifies.

Another way to look at this mirror is like a river of liquid energy. The flow of the river comes toward you and then flows back out of you. Love is received. Love is transmitted. Over and over. By doing this, you complete the circuit of love. You reflect the divine image of God to everyone else.

“You don’t have to understand it. It is already happening, and you cannot stop it.” (Unless you allow your ego to get in the way.) Your only task is to let go and surrender to its rich rewards. “When the flow is flowing … you can be a homemaker in a grocery store, or a construction worker at a work site. It doesn’t matter. It’s all inherently sacred and deeply satisfying.”

You experience “an inner aliveness” deep within.

How do you get to this place of spiritual joy? It’s an inside job. It starts in solitude, perhaps with a prayer, perhaps with the signs of the cross, or a rhythmic breathing exercise. This is your first task, to quiet the mind and any doubts that may live there.

“You just have to let go of whatever it is within you that is saying no to the flow, judging it as impossible, because guess what? Even your sins … even your mistakes will be used in your favor, if you allow them to be. That’s how good God is.”

When you are in the flow, you will feelan inherent, inner aliveness.” It’s a deep level of seeing. It’s a feeling of enjoyment not easily found in everyday life. “Call it Consciousness, call it God, call it Love; this is the ground of all being out of which all things—and especially all good things—come.”

When it happens, don’t think “oh, that’s just a coincidence or that’s merely an accident … if you stay on this path of allowing and trusting, the Spirit in you will allow you to confidently surrender.” You will realize, “There’s a reason for this. I’m living as the river flows, carried by its unfolding. I am being led. And it’s okay.” You will realize an energy that is the source of life and light.

You rest in the place where the “Inner Presence” dwells.

Rest in this quiet holding place and the stirrings of the ego will pass by with little to no effect. “The passing flotsam and jetsam on your stream of consciousness will then have little power to trap or imprison you.” In its place, “as you tune your heart to greater perception, you’ll begin to experience God almost like a force field you can abide in and trust.”

The “Witnessing Presence,” this force of life, which is the Holy Spirit, is planted within us. It only needs recognition and appreciation. Find the patience, to “stand guard over this seemingly empty space where your Inner Witnessing Presence, your quiet Inner Knower, dwells. You must learn to trust this Knower.”

As you enter this sacred place, “don’t be afraid of what first feels like boredom or nothingness. Don’t be afraid of this silence, which is where God seems to be.” Don’t be afraid of all that it can offer. These gifts are bestowed upon all of us, waiting to be opened. But first we must realize they are there.

If you like this story, you may like my new book Wake Up Call: Daily Insights for the Spiritually Curious, now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It features over 100 of my top stories from the past 10 years.

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