Heard of an elevator speech?
You get on an elevator with someone of influence who wants to know what you do. Could you tell them before the doors open again? Thirty seconds to get across mission, vision, meaning, purpose, maybe even a bit of identity. Three or four sentences to be clear, concise, compelling. Obviously, this is a must for sales and marketing, but applies to anything we do with intention or passion. Including our spiritual practice…especially spiritual practice.
If we can’t express the crux and intent of our spirituality in one sentence, in one word, it’s likely we’re not experiencing it on a daily basis.
Jesus understood this. So did Br. Lawrence, a 17th century French monk who said that his spiritual life was all about presence, that the practice of the presence of God is the spiritual life itself. One word, one sentence…they ordered his life and experience. Jesus said that his Way to the Father was all about love, to seek first the Kingdom of God, and all else would be added. Different? What is love without presence that unites love with beloved? And how can presence be experienced without expressing love in its purest form—identification with the beloved? And what is Kingdom but the quality of life when love as presence has become the basis of who we are?
Br. Lawrence and Jesus are saying exactly the same thing with different elevator speeches tuned to their own audiences and cultures. And they are saying it today. Their today, our today. Always today, because once you’ve experienced presence, you know it can only exist today, and can only be expressed in the language of today. All the sayings, stories, teachings that Jesus voices are active, present, and radically immediate. There is no escaping todayness in his elevator.
But today is terrifying. No wiggle room. Today demands a choice, now. Will we “enter” the presence of Kingdom today, this moment, or not? Much more comfortable to imagine truth out there somewhere distant, someday after tomorrow. But all the truth that matters is right here, within us, within our families, friendships, communities. Our presence makes it so. Today.