The Sacred Year

Michael Yankoski's book (brace yourself, the subtitle just goes on and on), The Sacred Year: Mapping the Soulscape of Spiritual Practice How Contemplating Apples, Living in a Cave and Befriending a Dying Woman Revived My Life sounded like my kind of book when I first heard about it. So I got it and read it.

It was not the book I expected. But I wasn't disappointed at all.

The book tells the story of how Yankoski, a motivational Christian speaker, became disillusioned with his shtick--and with his life. So he goes on a retreat to a monastery, where he sits down with a Father Solomon (Yankoski's description of the tone and technique of the priest/spiritual director is dead-on). Father Solomon tells him, "A carnival is a wonderful place to go every now and then, but a terrible place to live."

I was hooked.

Guided by Father Solomon, Yankoski undertakes a "sacred year," in which he systematically pursues a series of spiritual practices, one at a time. He distinguishes these practices and places them in sections in the book as "Depth with Self," "Depth with God," and "Depth with Others." For example, he plumbs new depths in himself by pursuing the practice of attentiveness, simplicity, and creativity (among others). In pursuing depth with God, he explores the practice of confession, solitude, and wilderness (among others). And pursuing depth with others took him to new experiences in gratitude, protest, and community (among others).

I appreciated his style and self-effacing humor. I loved his choice of practices--the unexpected (like mortality) among the unsurprising (like Sabbath). And I thoroughly enjoyed the means he used, such as gardening (simplicity) or digging a grave (mortality). And I tried hard not to drool with envy at his descriptions of visits on Iona and St. Paul's Cathedral, among others.

More importantly, I found myself longing for more depth in my life, too. Depth with "self," with God, and with others, perhaps with my own version of a "sacred year." I'm checking air fares to Scotland right now.

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