What happens if you spend your days telling others how to have lasting life in Jesus and you become frustrated and disillusioned with your very life? What if you travel and speak to Christians, motivating them to do more with their walk with Christ and you realize you’re all talk and no walk?
Well if you’re Michael Yankoski you write a book about it. You take a year to teach yourself how to stop talking about living a life after death and you start experiencing it. You learn how to take spiritual practices and make them a reality. You spend one year in focused engagement with the very spiritual practices you have been touting.
This book has changed the way I think about many things. It has given me ideas, things to implement in my own life. I’ve read about Michael’s journey through:
- The practice of attentiveness.
If you’re anything like me, and I’m betting you are, because I’m like you. My world goes a million miles an hour. I feel like I spend too much time trying to play catch up. I can’t focus on any one thing because it all hits me so fast. I’m constantly taking rabbit trails, shouting SQUIRREL! every few steps. I’ve thought myself the poster child for ADHD. I’ve been convinced I have it. After reading this book, I’m not so sure anymore. I think it’s just life. And we’re all affected and infected.
- The practice of simplicity.
Not just downsizing, although that plays a part to be sure. But being simple in all areas. Keeping a simple house is good. Getting rid of things you haven’t used in six months or a year, is good. But what about getting rid of some thoughts, behaviors, actions, habits, and grudges? Can we live a more simple life from the inside out?
- The practice of still, silent solitude.
Oh yeah. In today’s world that is nearly impossible. Years ago Bissell vacuum cleaners had a slogan, Life is Messy. Life is messy. But life is also noisy. So noisy and yet we constantly seek to fill it with more noise. We have the tv or radio on for “background noise”. Why? Are we so afraid to be alone with our thoughts and our God? Yesterday I reacquainted myself with Neil Diamond’s song, Beautiful Noise. I pondered what it meant. It doesn’t seem finished, it seems as if he is singing about a noise but doesn’t tell us what the beautiful noise is. I’m convinced today, it’s life. Life is noisy. But God speaks to us through a still, small voice. Not a shout. What if we took the time to be still enough, quiet enough in the noisiness of life to listen? What if we turned off the tv, the radio, the cd, the phones and just listened?
- The practice of Sabbath
I am not going to lie. This one probably has the biggest impact on my life. I loved every chapter. Every practice. In the margins on many I have scribbled, DO THIS!!!!, but there was something about this chapter. This practice that hit me between the eyes with a fatal blow. I have implemented this practice and I am so happy I did. I know you’re thinking, “If only I had time to spend a whole day doing whatever I want in total self-indulgent.” Please hear me say, you do. You in fact have 6 days to spend indulging your every wish and whim. Creating a Sabbath is not about self-indulgence or laziness. It’s about asking God how He wants you spend your day with Him. And doing what He says. Some of the things He has told me to do are laundry, dishes, create.
- The practice of gratitude.
It is the season where we all start thinking about how thankful we are. Facebook will soon explode with people posting what they are thankful for. 30 days of Thanksgiving. Gratitude is being thankful. But it is so much more than that. Gratitude is an attitude of the heart. An attitude that says “I honor you because you have changed me.” “I’m grateful for all you have done for me. For who You have made me.” It’s more than simply saying “Thank you.”
- The practice of pursuing justice.
This one is tricky. It seems the more we unearth about the injustices of the world, the more we realize we are living unjust lives. Injustice affects every area, every aspect of our life today. I am still pondering this one. But it had a great impact on me.
There are more chapters, if you want to know the other practices, you’ll have to get the book.
I received a free copy of this book, The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.