What can the spiritual practices of the ancients of 1500 years ago teach me that is relevant to my relationship with God and others in this post-modern age? What purpose can these practices serve in this high-strung, hurried and superficial world where we seek to define ourselves and our significance through social media? I am recently learning about how to walk the tightrope between contemplation and action, finding balance between them both while deepening my faith and being transformed.
In The Scared Year, Michael Yankoski shares the story of his existential crisis and then his journey prompted by the inner turmoil that sent him away from “the shallow, and façade-obsessed existence” he was living and toward a pursuit of depth and intimacy with God manifested in his love for others. Through a conversational style, he connects with the reader through his insightful stories as he explores 18 spiritual practices that he divides into three categories: 1) Depth with self (e.g. practices of attentiveness, daily examen, simplicity); 2) Depth with God (e.g. confession, Sabbath, pilgrimage); and 3) depth with others (e.g. gratitude, justice, caring).
His discussion of the spiritual practices are far from dry, and his book is aptly subtitled: “Mapping the Soulscape of Spiritual Practice – How Contemplating Apples, Living in a Cave, and Befriending a Dying Woman Revived My Life.” While he spent a sacred year diving into these practices, he emphasizes that it’s not enough to accomplish them and check them off a list at the end. They require a lifetime to come into full maturity and to bring forth the intended fruit.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to increase their capacity for depth in life and to actually put a deeper spirituality into practice. If we walk away inspired to incorporate even just one of these practices into our lifestyles, we will be changed.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for my honest review.