Roche Miette Newsletter
Quarterly of the Roche Miette Association,
No. 6, November 2002.

A Sacred Place - Carol Ann Sokoloff.
Imagine - by Thomas Merton.
Cycle - by Randy Iwanciwski
Practice of the Presence of God for Terminally Ill - by Piotr Rajski
Questions? Comments?
What is Roche Miette Association - by Piotr Rajski.

A Sacred Place.

Tread softly,
you walk
in the garden
of the gods;

their mythical presence
is hidden hard in crevices,
suspected in glens,

most sensed
in the highest places,
where humans
seldom visit.

Tread softly
and be
a welcome worshipper
in Nature's temple;

Tread softly,
you walk
in the garden of gods.

Quoted after: Sokoloff, Carol Ann. (1993). Eternal Lake O'Hara. Victoria, BC: Ecstasis Editions.
Thanks to Patricia Glowacka for this inspiring book. 


"Imagine a man or a group of people who, alone or together in a quiet place where no radio, no background music can be heard, simply sit for an hour or a half hour in silence.  They do not speak.  They do not pray aloud.  They do not have books or papers in their hands.  They are not reading or writing.  They are not busy with anything.  They simply enter into themselves, not in order to think in an analytical way, not in order to examine, organize, plan, but simply in order to be.  They want to get
themselves together in silence.  They want to synthesize, to integrate themselves, to rediscover themselves in a unity of thought, will, understanding, and love that goes beyond words, beyond analysis, even beyond conscious thought.  They want to pray not with their lips but with their silent hearts and, beyond that, with the very ground of their being."

Thomas Merton, Love and Living.
Submitted by Gary Horn


As the close to the Year of the Mountains nears, these thoughts I wish to share. It is winter in the mountains and as I look to Roche Miette the snow is back and will not melt till spring. Such is the cycle and again it tells me of God’s love and how we are part of a cycle also.  We are born, we grow and learn and perhaps share then we die.  Yes a cycle.  In nature this happens yearly here.  I see it in the forests, plants and animals.  The life cycle continues like a well-oiled machine that has purpose and direction.

 So should we in our lives.  We are given choices, shown a direction and a purpose to fulfill.  Yes at the end we will look back and see how we have fulfilled our purpose.  Yes our own life here will end; all of us must face the inevitable sooner or later.  This proves to me that we are connected to his Godly creation called Earth.  Even more evident we are connected to each other and certainly must care for one another.

 Death is all around us not only on the media, war and in human struggle but also in our own families.  Even this week some of my close friends have lost fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and any number of family members.  It does make you stop and think how precious life is and how we should live and treat one another.

 My neighbor suffered his second stroke in two years just three weeks ago.  I spoke to him yesterday and he told me that he might be gone at any time now.  The doctors are having a difficult time diagnosing and treating his condition.  Yet he is smiling, just walking again and eating.  Things that I take for granted he is relearning again.  I do see a peacefulness and grace about him though, that is God’s reflection.  Yes even if we are staring death in the face, God is there if we choose to call on Him.  I pray I can have the strength and courage my neighbor has when my time nears.

 Being close to nature here I do see the promise of new life in the spring.  Again we being part of this Godly creation give us the opportunity to share in this experience.  We must die to ourselves in order to recognize our own divinity.  We are born and we will die and move on.  Some to a Heaven others to a next life, some to another level, whatever your belief is, the cycle that we are part of continues.  Yet I struggle with this continuation myself though I continually see it presented to me in nature’s yearly life cycle.

 I am slowly learning.  God is the gentle teacher and when I am ready I will move on, all of us will someday.  Thank you God for the mountains and another year to share them!

Randy Iwanciwski. 

"The Practice of the Presence of God for Terminally Ill."
By Piotr Rajski.


The author will present the basic ideas behind the practice of the presence of God as introduced to the Western World by the XVII-th Century Carmelite monk, Brother Lawrence. He will draw comparisons to similar techniques, such as meditation, contemplation, practicing God's Name, offered by religions other than Christianity. These similarities will be illustrated by quotations from scriptures and spiritual writings of many faiths. The author will show how universalistic elements of this practice can help terminally ill patients of all cultural backgrounds. Among the advantages of using this practice are: reduced fear, increased hopefulness, better contact with one's body and emotions, relaxation response, mindfulness, better social relations, life style changes, etc.


In the essence the Practice of the Presence of God aims at creating awareness, or vivid realization, that God is present in one's life inwardly and outwardly at the same time. Awareness of God's Presence means a different perception of reality.  People who are aware of God's Presence are never alone. God is a silent witness to their thoughts, words, and actions.   It is an acknowledgement that the Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent God permeats the whole creation, including the person who is aware of His presence.

In the particular situation of this lecture the awareness of God's Presence means that He is not only present in me while I speak to you, but He is present in each and everyone of you and He is also present between and beyond us.  He permeats every atom of every item in this room but He may also assume a human body and sit next to you.

This awareness is not given but can be learned through the human life. Some people believe that achieving this awareness is the goal of human life. It requires an act of courage - a belief that something that cannot be observed with human eyes really exist. It is an act of faith.

Forms of the Practice.

Awareness of God's Presence is often believed to be one of His gifts.  However, we can prepare ourselves to receive this gift. We can prepare ourselves by practicing God's Presence. Practicing God's Presence is nothing new. Nor is this practice limited to one religion or denomination. Throughout human history people of all faiths practiced the Presence of God and gave it many forms. I will briefly outline the most popular forms, such as:
Breathing - Biological Experience of God
Continual conversation with God
Repeating God's Name
Practicing Purity or Holiness


The common element of most meditative techniques is that we close our eyes, go into yourselves and become aware of what is happening inside and outside of us. We become aware of your body, emotions and thoughts. By observing our breathing we come into contact with the miracle of life within ourselves.   While feeling life, life's energy within, we gradually become more open to the Source of Life.

Breathing - Biological Experience of God.

A great contribution to the awareness of breathing in the Western hemisphere belongs to Leonard Orr, the founder of the American form of yoga known as Rebirthing or Intuitive Energy Breathing. In his writings Orr (e.g. 1998) often refers to breathing as a "biological experience of God." He wrote:

“Breathing is the bridge between the visible and the invisible. Our invisible Source is eternal - ever young and healthy. Our visible body is always rejuvenating, purifying, and expressing the Infinite invisible Source. Intuitive Breathing constantly merges our body with its Source. (…) Even after practicing it daily for 23 years I am still amazed how it frees my mind and body of tension and pain (…) I don’t understand how or why people survive without it.” (P.2)

Orr (1998) wrote:

"To consciously appropriate the Breath of Life is the basic gift of God to enrich human existence. (…) Breathing is the basic source of health to the body. Breathing is the primary source of nourishment and elimination. (…) Cleaning and balancing our energy body is the secret to mental and physical health."  He later explained, "The miracle of Intuitive Energy Breathing is not a religion, nor dependent upon belief or faith, nor dogma, nor philosophy, but it is a biological experience of God, that is available to everybody." (P.2)

In other words by practicing breathing we practice God's Presence in its most wonderful form - life.


Prayer is commonly understood as a conversation with God. We assume that God exists, otherwise the conversation would not make sense. In prayer we assume that God can hear us and that He can respond. Prayer can be more formal as when we repeat some formulas prescribed in our religions. Or prayer may be a spontaneous activity in which we try to communicate with God using our own words.

Conversation with God.

Human beings tried to talk to God since the beginning of Creation. Many of these conversations were recorded in a poetic form, and as Psalms of the Jewish King David, poems of the Sufi mystics like Rumi or Kabir, or the Sikh Guru Nanak, have become a common human heritage. Today I would like to draw your attention to the writings of the XVII-century French Carmelite Monk, known as Brother Lawrence. This is not that his conversations with God are in any way superior to others, but he seemed to be the first in the Western world who identified them specifically as the Practice of God's Presence. This is how Brother Lawrence (1954) described this practice:

"(...) And I make it my business only to persevere in His holy presence, wherein I keep myself by a simple attention, and a general fond regard to God, which I may call an actual presence of God; or, to speak better, an habitual, silent, and secret conversation of the soul with God, which often causes me joys and raptures inwardly, and sometimes also outwardly, so great that I am forced to use means to moderate them and prevent their appearance to others." (P.37-38)

To "(…) accustom ourselves to a continual conversation with Him, with freedom and in simplicity" he wrote,  "(...) we need only to recognize God intimately present with us, to address ourselves to Him in every moment (...)."(P.24). He told one of his followers that "we ought to act with God in the greatest simplicity, speaking to Him frankly and plainly, and imploring His assistance in our affairs, just as they happen (…)."(P.18). Apparently Brother Lawrence participated in formal times of prayer according to the directions of his superior, but did not really need these formal times as nothing could divert him from God. "His prayer was nothing else but a sense of the presence of God" so "when the appointed times of prayer were past, he found no difference, because he still continued with God (…)." (P.26).

What is interesting is that Brother Lawrence was a cook in his monastery for 16 years and achieved his way of Practicing God's Presence in spite, or perhaps thanks to, the fact that he was a very busy person. He commented:

"The time of business (...) does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament." (P.31).

He further added:

"My most useful method is this simple attention, and a general passionate regard to God, to whom I find myself often attached with greater sweetness and delight than that of an infant at the mother’s breast; so that, if I dare use the expression, I should choose to call this state the bosom of God, for the inexpressible sweetness which I taste and experience there." (P.39).

Repeating God's Name.

Repeating God's Name is another form of conversation with God and practicing His Presence. This practice is more popular in the Eastern Hemisphere where it is known as mantra, japa or dhikr. In the Christian Orthodox Church there is a long tradition of repeating the phrase "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me," while in the Catholic Church "Hail Mary" seems to play a similar role. Though there are some cultural and ethnic differences as to which Name to use, the principle behind these practices appears to be the same. By invoking God's Name we put ourselves in God's Presence and access ("download" one could say) His Energy.  This practice is so powerful that it not only offers protection from evil influences but can lead to immortality. The contemporary Hindu sage, Heirakhan Babaji (1990), explained it in the following way:

“Forget past and future, abolish all other thoughts, but pray with total concentration of mind and soul and have full faith in God. Chant OM NAMAHA SHIVAYA and you can defy death. Have no thought about your life and death. No evil influence will ever come near you if you pray with purity of heart and mind and with all faith and concentration.” (P.2)


In Deuteronomy (23:15) it is written: "For Yahweh your God goes about within your camp (…). Your camp must therefore be a holy place; Yahweh must not see anything improper among you or he would turn away from you." This quotation points to the importance of holiness or cleanliness in our lives. Heirakhan Babaji (1990) expressed the same thought: "God resides only in cleanliness. If there is impurity in you, how can God reside in your heart? So to reach God, look for cleanliness. (…) (You) must be very clean, take baths, have only clean thoughts." (P.48)

And how can we practice cleanliness? It seems that God does not require much or anything that would be too difficult for human beings. He seems to want us to wash our bodies daily and to wear clean clothes. He probably wants that we keep our quarters (our “camp”) clean. He appears to expect that we avoid substances that poison our bodies. He asks us to refrain from improper sex and to take care of our sexual impurities. He wants us to be active and to use our bodies in physical work or exercise. He wants us to breathe fresh air. Sitting at the fire is also believed to have a purifying effect. God often asks us to give up on hateful or sinful thoughts and to love one another. The purpose of these recommendations is to help us to be clean when we put ourselves in God's Presence.


The Buddhist practice of mindfulness can be an excellent preparation for the Practice of God's Presence. Thich Nhat Hahn (1995) wrote:

"In Buddhism our effort is to practice mindfulness in each moment – to know what is going on within and all around us. (…) When we are mindful, touching deeply the present moment, we can see and listen deeply, and the fruit are always understanding, acceptance, love and desire to relieve suffering and bring joy."(P.14).

The following poem by Thich Nhat Hahn (1995) may be especially suitable for the terminally ill:

"Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment.
I know this is a wonderful moment.
Breathing in, I am aware of my heart.
Breathing out, I smile to my heart.
I vow to eat, drink and work in ways
That preserve my health and well-being." (P.18)

Benefits of the Practice.

There are many possible health and spiritual benefits from the Practice of God's Presence. I will refer to but a few.

Relaxation response
Elimination of loneliness
Reduced fear
Spiritual perspective on suffering
Gentle death

Relaxation response.

According to Larry Dosey (1996) by the year 1996 there were over 150 controlled studies showing that prayer does have an effect. Studies of Herbert Benson from Harvard University demonstrated for instance that prayer can lower blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol and positively influence other bodily functions. These benefits are commonly referred to as a "relaxation response." It seems that prayer and meditation help our bodies to relax. When we reduce the amount of stress we expose our bodies to, our bodies respond with better health and well-being. Dosey points to the fact that almost all known healing techniques involve some form of God's invocation or prayer. It was also demonstrated that prayer may speed up recovery after operation.

Dr.Benson himself (Benson, Stark, 1996) reported that "25 percent of people feel more spiritual as the result of the elicitation of the relaxation response" (P.154-5). He observed:

"People who reported increased spirituality after eliciting the relaxation response described two things about the experience: 1) the presence of an energy, a force, a power - God - that was beyond themselves, and 2) this presence felt close to them. And it was the people who 'felt this presence' who noted the greatest medical benefits. Regardless of their professed faith, people eliciting the response who experienced these sensations - an energy that seemed both internal and external to their bodies, and that felt good - had better health as a result" (P.157)

Elimination of loneliness.

The long-term effects of loneliness on health were well documented by James J. Lynch (2000). Rapid increases in single parent households, high divorce rates, declining marriage rates, increasing number of people living alone, and rapid increase in the number of children born into single parent households are but some of the signs, according to Lynch, behind our inability to communicate. Among other signs are widespread violence, drug and alcohol addictions and ever increasing use of anti-anxiety and antidepressant medication. These phenomena have long been linked to social alienation, predisposition to sickness and premature death.

The Practice of God's Presence solves these problems, as those who are in God's Presence are never alone.  They are continually in contact with the Being who is not only their best friend, who knows them most intimately, who has always been loyal and understanding, but who is the Most Powerful Being you can imagine.

Reduced fear.

Having God as a friend eliminates or reduces a need to fear. The true believers from all spiritual paths are always at ease. It must had been the awareness of God's Presence that let King David to say:

"Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; He makes me lie down in pastures green; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; (…). Even though I walk through the valley of the shadows of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. (…)" (Psalm 23: )

Spiritual perspective on suffering.

Practice of God's Presence also changes the meaning of suffering. Instead of being a senseless affliction, it can be seen as a purification of the soul, an opportunity to overcome ego and material attachments, and a final preparation of the soul for God. In a letter to a sick friend Brother Lawrence expressed this insight in the following words:

"When pains come from God, He only can cure them. He often sends diseases of the body to cure those of the soul. Comfort yourself with the sovereign Physician both of the soul and body."(P.56-57).

Regardless his own readiness to suffer Brother Lawrence was quite lucky. He lived until the age of 84 and was never afflicted by any serious illness.  It seemed to bother him. He envied his friends who were sick. Maybe the reason for his good health was his practice of the Presence of God. He saw God everywhere, including in his own body.   Perhaps this permitted his body to stay healthy. Or maybe the reason was that he obtained insight into the purpose of suffering so it was not necessary for God to afflict him with suffering at all.

Gentle death.

Practicing God's Presence may also be a solution for our fear of death. Heirakhan Babaji explained:

"The fear of death is born with man (…). Attachment to material things makes man cling to life. When you chant the Name of the Divine, when you are one with the divine, you accept death. While you are attached to life and afraid of death, you die with fear and that weight clinging to you. If you have attained liberation you are free from death (you accept the inevitable). You die without fear and by remembering the Name of God, your soul leaves the body free of that fear and attachment. If you are reborn, your soul is still free from that fear. If you die in 'unity,' you are free from rebirth, unless you will it." (P.41).
This truth was also expressed in Bhagavad-Gita (1972). "Anyone who, at the end of life, quits his body remembering Me, attains immediately to My nature, and there is no doubt about it," says Lord Krishna.  It seems that for the most of us the purpose of life is not to become immortal. It is rather to learn about God. That is why, it is maintained, to remember God in the moment of death is the ultimate goal of human existence. Being firmly established in God, through the Practice of His Presence, we can safely, to use the expression of St. Augustine (1952), "cast ourselves upon Him without fear"  during the final passage.
Brother Lawrence seemed to understand it well. He was not afraid of death. In one of the letters he wrote:

"I must, in a little time, go to God. What comforts me in this life is that I now see Him by faith; and I see Him in such a manner as might make me say sometimes, I believe no more, but I see. (…) I know not how God will dispose of me. I am always happy. All the world suffers; and I, who deserve the severest discipline, feel joys so continual and so great that I can scarce contain them. (…). He never forsakes us until we have first forsaken Him. Let us fear to leave Him. Let us be always with Him. Let us live and die in His Presence." P.58-60.


 (1) "To know God in this way," writes Keating, "is to perceive a new dimension to all reality. The ripe fruit of this [Contemplative] prayer is to bring back into the humdrum routine of ordinary life not just the thought of God, but the constant awareness of His presence beyond any concept. He Who Is – the infinite, incomprehensible, ineffable One – is the God of faith." Finding Grace at the Center. P.34.
 (2) The Holy Quran says for instance: "Since we created the human being, we are fully aware of his innermost thoughts. We are closer to him than jugular vein. The two angels, at right and at left, record everything he does. Not a single utterance he utters without a vigilant watcher." Quran 50:16-18
 (3) "And look into space;" - says Kahlil Gibran, "you shall see Him walking in the cloud, oustretching His arms in the lightning and descending in rain. You shall see Him smiling in flowers, then rising and waving His hands in trees." The Prophet. P.79 "Those who see the great God in the sun, moon, stars, earth, air, fire, and water, and always meditate on Him only, get success in life and are the true devotees." The Teachings of Babaji. P.19.
  (4) Fr. Basil Pennington explains: "At every moment God is intimately present to each and every particle of His creation, sharing with it, in creative love, His very own being. When we go to our depths we find not only the image of God, but God Himself (…). We go to our center and pass from there into the present God." Finding Grace at the Center. P.13.
  (5) Fr. Thomas Keating explains: "The presence of God is like the atmosphere we breathe. You can have all you want of it as long as you do not try to take possession of it and hang on to it. Nothing is more delightful than the divine presence. For that very reason we want to carve out a piece of it and hide it in the closet for safekeeping. But this like trying to grasp a handful of air. As soon as your fingers close over it, it is gone. The presence of God does not respond to greed." Finding Grace at the Center. P.30.
  (6) Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hahn wrote: "To breathe and know you are alive is wonderful. Because you are alive, everything is possible. (…) Breathe deeply and enjoy your breathing. Be aware that the sky is blue and the birds’ songs are beautiful. Enjoy being alive (…)" Living Buddha, Living Christ. P.59. "Life is precious. (…) When we appreciate and honor the beauty of life, we will make every effort to dwell deeply in the present moment and protect all life." (Ibid. P.93).
  (7) Thich Nhat Hahn explains: "For the monks of old, the secret of success in the practice was to keep the name of Jesus always in mind. The name of Jesus brings the energy of God, namely the Holy Spirit, into your own being. When the monk was able to do this, he could live his daily live in the presence of God. (…)" Living Christ, Living Buddha. P.166. "The Holy Spirit can be described as being always present in our hearts in the form of a seed. Every time we pray or invoke the name of the Lord, that seed manifests itself as the energy of God." (Ibidem, P.183).
  (8) Basil Pennington wrote, for instance: "What happens (…) is that in this prayer we experience not only our oneness with God in Christ, but also our oneness with the rest of the Body of Christ, and indeed with the whole of creation, (…). Thus we begin, (…) to experience the presence of God in all things, the presence of Christ in each person we meet. (…) From this flows a true compassion – a 'feeling with.'" Finding Grace at the Center. P.20.
  (9) "He is within us; seek Him not elsewhere." P.64.
  (10) Bhagavad-Gita 8:5.
  (11) "Cast yourself upon Him; fear not, He will not withdraw Himself to let you fall. Cast yourself upon Him without apprehension: He will receive and heal you." The Confessions of Saint Augustine. (VII.11).


Benson, H., Stark, M. (1996). Timeless healing. The power and biology of belief. New York: Scribner.
Bhagavad-Gita as it is. (1972). Los Angeles: International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Brother Lawrence. (1954). The practice of the presence of God. Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revell.
The confessions of Saint Augustine. (1952). New York: Catholic Book Pub.Co.
Dosey, L. (1996). The healing power of prayer. Gateways Inc. (video)
Gibran, Kahlil. (1989). The prophet. New York: Alfred Knopf.
Holy Bible. Today's English Version.
Keating T., Pennington B., Clarke T. (1982). Finding grace at the centre. Still River, MA: St. Bede's P.
Lynch, J.J. (2000). A cry unheard: New insights into the medical consequences of loneliness. Baltimore, MD: Bancroft Press.
Orr, L. (1998). The healing manual. Stauton, VA: Inspiration University.
Quran: The final scripture. (1981). Rashad Khalifa (Trans.). Tucson, AZ: Islamic Productions.
The teachings of Babaji. (1990). Nainitial, UP, India: Haidakhandi Samaj.
Thich Nhat Hanh. (1995). Living Buddha, living Christ. New York: Riverhead Books.

(This text was presented by Piotr Rajski during the conference "Spirituality and Health Care," Toronto, October 25-27, 2002.) 

Questions? Comments?

If you have any questions or comments, or you would like to contribute to the Roche Miette Newsletter, send Piotr an e-mail to: Feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone who you think could be interested in it. People may subscribe for the future issues at If, on the other hand, you would like to be taken off our mailing list, please, reply to this e-mail with the word "remove" in the subject line.

What is the Roche Miette Association?
Roche Miette Association is an informal group of people who try to achieve the ideals of human unity as expressed in  the Roche Miette Rule. One of the characteristics of this group of enthusiasts is love of Nature and willingness to love God through His Creation.  In particular, we are drawn by the beauty of the Roche Miette Mountain, near Hinton, Alberta, and organize once a year a non-denominational hike/pilgrimage to this mountain. People of all religious backgrounds are invited to participate with us in this auspicious event.
If these ideals appeal to you, you may want to support them through a financial donation. Please, send checks for "Roche Miette Association" to:

Piotr Rajski
Roche Miette Association
576, Lessard Drive
Edmonton, AB, T6M 1B2