After some soul searching I came to realize that it is unful­filled every time I try to take charge of it.  Every time I try to make something happen.  When I sit down and think, “I am going to experience God’s presence now!”

 

I can be so entrenched in my brain when I am longing for the presence of the Divine that I for­get to engage my heart or soul.  I am so busy thinking about what name to use as I approach the Light, what image I hold.  I obsess about whether I should read scripture, and if so which one.  I think maybe I should meditate, maybe pray.  And if I pray, how will I do it?

 

I once heard a group of small children sing a song in church.  What they were singing was “Are you listening, are you listening, when I pray, when I pray?”  What I heard was “Are you listening, are you listening, when you pray, when you pray?”  That is the message I needed to hear.  When I pray I can be so busy talking that I forget to listen.

 

As a child I was driven to be perfect, to always get it right, thinking that would earn me redemption.  That would qualify me for my parents’ love and attention.  I’ve heard that we mold God in the image of our parents, and so it’s not surpris­ing that I start thinking if I can just be the perfect ...  I don’t know, supplicant, worshipper, devo­tee… that God will notice me, accept me, want to spend time with me.  Basically, if I get it right, if I just do it “good enough” God will love me.

 

If I turn the question around and ask “when is my longing for God’s presence fulfilled?” I find other answers.  When I become aware of it.  When I am still and listen.  When I realize and accept that it is already there.  My long­ing for the presence of the Uni­versal Spirit is fulfilled when I make myself present to it.  Perhaps I could think that my longing for God’s presence is ful­filled when God’s longing for my presence is fulfilled.  My presence opens me to the Sacred’s presence.  And pres­ence isn’t something that I have to get right or do perfectly.  I don’t have to work at it.  It just is.  Presence is just being.  I heard recently that it is called ‘presence’ because it’s a gift.  My presence to God is also my gift to myself.

 

I don’t have to arrange a time, place and method to fulfill my longing for Love’s presence.  It can be fulfilled, and has been, anywhere, anytime, doing any­thing; as long as I am present to it.  And at those times when despite my presence, my longing for God’s presence feels unfulfilled, I can find solace in the faith and knowledge that it is there.
—Mica Coffin