A few years ago he headed east from Vancouver to the rolling green farmland of the Fraser Valley and a Benedictine monastery. His friends had highly recommended it to him as a healing balm from the frenzy of life.
One of the monks – a Luke Skywalker clone – Father Solomon – suggested Michael take a “sacred year” dedicated to spiritual practices. Spiritual practices, he said, are a way of “mapping your soulscape” – helping you become better acquainted with who you are, who God is and the people He has placed in your life.
What follows is a 354 page tome about a one year long, sacred experience of “contemplating apples, digging a grave, growing tomatoes, living in a cave and befriending a dying woman.”
He breaks his book into three sections:
* Depth With Self
* Depth With God
* Depth With Others
Each chapter includes a definition of the spiritual practice, a wellspring of information about the practice’s history and spiritual significance, a description of Yankoski’s experience adopting it, and a reflection on what he learned.
Yankoski’s beautiful and poetic writing style is not only the sort that should be savored, but the content of this book is SO different that it requires time to be absorbed and contemplated. In short, “The Sacred Year” is a synopsis of author Michael Yankoski’s year-long commitment to adopting both ancient and modern spiritual practices. The idea was to see to what kind of life-style and spiritual realignment they might lead.
I like that Yankoski says that “spiritual practices are like sailing. You learn to constantly be attentive to the wind and to respond to it. How is the wind blowing in your sails, what direction is it coming from, how fast is it going? Our attentiveness allows the wind to move us. Attentiveness to the wind is the art of sailing. Attentiveness to the Spirit is the art of following Jesus.”
20 Spiritual Practices:
The Practice of Simplicity
“The Practice of Simplicity” (page 65) and Yankoski’s discussion about true freedom is my favourite. He learns these lessons from a “Sweet Maria,” an eighty-year-old Italian woman whose house is next to his community garden plot.
Yankoski decides to grow tomatoes. She tells him, “You have to prune if you want fruit to grow.”
There’s a fundamental law built in to the nature of the universe: limitations and boundaries enable fruitfulness.
Fruitfulness depends upon pruning.
Bounty derives from limits.
If I hope for trees to become established, healthy and enduringly productive, I must be merciless in pruning them back during the winter months.
Our culture is adamant about disregarding the necessity of limitations and boundaries in all forms. Limits rub us the wrong way. We call, “Foul!”
The idea of not being able to do something I want to do is an affront to my sense of autonomy and my understanding of “freedom” as well.
Perhaps, I’ve misunderstood what freedom actually means.
Is freedom really the ability to throw of limits, to do without boundaries, to do whatever I want whenever I want?
Freedom is about being able to choose and then act toward what is good. Its about the opportunity to grow towards your purpose. Freedom means both a lack of external coercion that prevents you from moving toward your purpose, but also a lack of internal coercion that prevents you from moving toward your purpose.
There are ordered affections and disordered affections. Ordered affections lead us toward life, light, love and God. Disordered affections lead us toward evil, death, and darkness and away from what you have been created for.
The tragic irony of today is we have been pushed toward a new kind of slavery by a rhetoric of freedom, liberty and self-determination. We now find ourselves mired in the intensely arrogant belief that the pinnacle of freedom is a society of individuals running around pursuing whatever they feel like without any thought whatsoever about what they’ve been created for.
Freedom is not the ability to crush ourselves down with unending piles of useless clutter, but instead the lightness that comes from de-cluttering physical, mental and emotional space-time of the causes and effects of the insatiable appetite for more.
I was provided with a free copy of “The Sacred Year” by BookLook Bloggers.
Like this? Pass it on, and follow for more.
I’m writing in order to help people grow their faith in Jesus, build strong relationships and make their leadership effective. If this material is helpful to you, please follow me.
- Subscribe. I’ll put helpful content into your email box on Mondays and Thursdays, as well as upcoming events at North Pointe Church.
- Follow on Twitter. I daily tweet info I think you’ll be interested in.
- Friend on Facebook. If you “like” our page, let me know you found me here.
- Connect on Linkedin. I like this because it reminds me what people think I’m good at.