You know him as Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, the name he took when he entered a Carmelite monastery in Paris. He was born Nicholas Herman in the early 1600s. Poverty motivated him to join the army, which provided meals and a small stipend. He left the army due to an injury, perhaps the cause of a limp that remained with him the rest of his life. From Ellyn Sanna’s Brother Lawrence: A Christian Zen Master:
“The winter I was eighteen, I stood looking at the bare branches of a tree. I realized that in time the leaves would grow again, and then flowers would bloom on the branches, followed by fruit. My awareness was suddenly opened, so that I saw God’s great strength and care. That realization has never since been erased from my mind.”
Sanna wrote: “The world of the intellect had little interest for him, and he was not much concerned with theology or doctrine. Brother Lawrence worked in the monastery’s kitchen (where) he developed an unusual and practical ability to focus himself on the presence of God. … he lived a life of such serenity and joy that others wanted to know his secret.” A church official interviewed him and recorded Brother Lawrence’s answers to his questions.
“This record, a few notes referred to as maxims, and a handful of letters were all Brother Lawrence left behind when he died at the age of eighty.”