Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski

Yankoski was a successful author and speaker. At the end of a difficult speaking trip he had an existential crisis. His facade crashed. He had been talking about living a deep spiritual life but wasn't. He needed a different focus.

A conversation he had led him to what he calls The Sacred Year, a year of deep engagement with Spiritual Practices, some old, some new. He came to realize Christ's invitation to “come and die that you might truly live” is really an invitation to a way of being in the world, a way of patterning our lives.

Through the guiding voice of Father Solomon, a local monk, Yankoski began to intentionally structure and order his life around spiritual practices. Discovering these “means of grace” changed him. He practiced being attentive (Selah). He used the Daily Examen. He reflected, baking bread and even tasting dirt. He pruned, purged,reclaimed, delighted. He contemplated death, digging a grave and then lying in it.

He also practiced confession, listening prayer, Lectio Divina, Eucharist, solitude, keeping sabbath, practice of wilderness, pilgrimage, gratitude, pursuing justice, living in community, caring deeply.

The lessons he learned were personal and enlightening. Even part way through the year he wrote, “One thing this Sacred Year is beginning to show me is how each of these spiritual practices can work like an antidote to some of the more poisonous aspects of our culture today.”

Even though we will never relive all the experiences Yankoski had, there is much each of us can learn from this book. I really liked his section on reading the Bible for formation and transformation. His experience of Selah, being attentive, has me slowing down to observe and appreciate. One doesn't have to go to a monastery and have a spiritual director to experience the spiritual disciplines. The practice can be a simple as writing thank you notes (gratigraph) or as realistic as buying vegetables from local farmers.

If you are yearning for something in your Christian life, if you are tired of pretending, if you are seeking a different focus for your spiritual life, I would suggest this book. It is brimming with encouragement and ideas to have your own sacred year. You will discover a new depth through living an intentional life. As it was for Yankoski, it will be just the beginning of a lifetime of daily delving into the divine. He's provided an experience to get you going and a list of resources to keep you on the journey.

Watch the book trailer here.
You can read endorsements, interviews with the author, and much more here.
I am taking part in a blog tour of this book and you can read other reviews here.

Michael Yankoski is a writer, aspiring theologian, and urban homesteader who dreams of becoming a competent woodworker, musician, and sailor. He received his MA in theological studies at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, is a (novitate) Oblate of St. Benedict, and has authored four books. Michael grew up in Colorado, feels at home on the Pacific Coast, and currently resides in Indiana, where he and his wife are pursuing PhDs at the University of Notre Dame. Find out more at http://www.michaelyankoski.com/.

Thomas Nelson, 368 pages. You can purchase a copy here.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through the Litfuse Publicity Group for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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