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Practice of the Presence


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About the Author

Carmen Acevedo Butcher, PhD, is an author, teacher, poet, and award-winning translator of spiritual texts. Her dynamic work around the evolution of language and the necessity of just and inclusive language has garnered interest from various media, including the BBC and NPR's Morning Edition. A Carnegie Foundation Professor of the Year and Fulbright Senior Lecturer, Acevedo Butcher teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, in the College Writing Programs.

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection -- Nicolas Herman -- remains one of the most beloved spiritual writers of all time, with his book Practice of the Presence of God remaining in print since its original publication in 1692. At the age of twenty-six he entered the Order of the Discalced Carmelites in Paris, where the friar's longest-running job was as a kitchen worker. His spiritual wisdom was only fully recognized after his death, when his letters and a handwritten manuscript with the title Spiritual Maxims, or Ways for Acquiring the Presence of God were discovered among his effects.


"In this radiant new translation, Carmen Acevedo Butcher puts her acclaimed skills as a translator fully in the service of her listening heart to deliver Brother Lawrence's timeless teaching on simplicity and presence to a world desperately in need of it. More than a translation, this is a transmission, conveying not only Lawrence's words but the spirit of inclusivity and kindness from which he wrote them. It is her faithfulness to the fragrance of his presence that makes her translation so inviting, even as we watch her take a few risks to reach a whole new world of seekers. It was a joy to watch Carmen and Brother Lawrence making such sweet music together." --Cynthia Bourgeault, author of?The Heart of Centering Prayer,?The Meaning of Mary Magdalene "How to live in the presence of God is of the essence of the Christian mystical tradition. Few mystical texts have presented a practical method for attaining God's presence as effectively as the collection of letters, conversations, and biographical materials known as The Practice of the Presence of God, stemming from the Carmelite brother, Lawrence of the Resurrection (d. 1691). This gem of the Christian mystical tradition has now been made available in a striking new translation and study by Carmen Acevedo Butcher. It is a book to be treasured by all who are devoted to the inner life." --Bernard McGinn, Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor emeritus, Divinity School, University of Chicago "What a bold, vibrant, and potent translation of this mystical masterpiece! As she did with the perennial wisdom jewel Cloud of Unknowing, Carmen Acevedo Butcher once again breaks open the stilted and patriarchal language that encrusts our most life-giving spiritual treasures and makes The Practice of the Presence of God easy to grasp and impossible to resist. Its author, the humble seventeenth-century sage Brother Lawrence, reminds us that every task, no matter how ordinary, is a fresh opportunity for drawing near to the Friend. And that the more we take refuge in this intimacy, frequently repeating such phrases as 'My God, I am all yours,' or 'God of love, I love you with all my heart,' or 'Love, create in me a new heart,' the more often we find ourselves simply resting in the presence of Love Itself." --Mirabai Starr, translator of John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and Julian of Norwich; author of God of Love and Wild Mercy "In a time of such devastation and rabid confusion, Brother Lawrence's testimony is of sublime help, and a source of radical encouragement to all seekers on all paths. In these wonderful, naked, luminous translations he lives afresh, inviting us with every word into the reality he knows and embodies so simply and fully. Do not miss this book, and give it to everyone you know." --Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope and Turn Me to Gold: 108 Translations of Kabir "Carmen Acevedo Butcher's powerful translation of Brother Lawrence's Spiritual Maxims, letters, and conversations opens our hearts to experience God through the lens of a humble seventeenth-century friar, one who had very little to say about institutional religion and very much to say about the presence of God in the everyday lives of ordinary people. At a time when institutionalized religion often fails us, this translation reminds us that we are constantly surrounded by the divine presence and that God is accessible to us at any moment of life and far beyond the confines of churches, temples, and synagogues. It is a timely translation that holds enormous possibility for the reformation of a religious faith that desperately needs it." --Rob Nash, associate dean for doctoral programs and professor of comparative religion and mission, McAfee School of Theology of Mercer University, Atlanta, Georgia

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