The Sacred Year: Mapping the Soulscape of Spiritual Practice -- How Contemplating Apples, Living in a Cave and Befriending a Dying Woman Revived My Life

The Sacred Year: Mapping the Soulscape of Spiritual Practice -- How Contemplating Apples, Living in a Cave and Befriending a Dying Woman Revived My Life

by Michael Yankoski
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The Sacred Year: Mapping the Soulscape of Spiritual Practice -- How Contemplating Apples, Living in a Cave and Befriending a Dying Woman Revived My Life by Michael Yankoski

"In his life and writing, Michael Yankoski walks a tightrope between action and contemplation, and, behold, in ways we can all learn from, he manages to find a sort of essential balance."
Philip Yancey, author of What's So Amazing About Grace

"This book is a joy to the soul and a delight to the heart. It is destined to become a classic within the genre of contemporary spiritual and religious writing."
Phyllis Tickle, compiler of The Divine Hours

Frustrated and disillusioned with his life as a Christian motivational speaker, Michael Yankoski was determined to stop merely talking about living a life of faith and start experiencing it. The result was a year of focused engagement with spiritual practices—both ancient and modern—that fundamentally reshaped and revived his life. By contemplating apples for an hour before tasting them (attentiveness), eating on just $2.00 a day (simplicity), or writing letters of thanks (gratitude), Michael discovered a whole new vitality and depth through the intentional life.

Guided by the voice of Father Solomon—a local monk—Yankoski's Sacred Year slowly transforms his life. Both entertaining and profound, his story will resonate with those who wish to deepen their own committed faith as well as those who are searching—perhaps for the first time—for their own authentic encounter with the Divine.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780849922022
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 09/16/2014
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 930,773
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

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 (novitiate) 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.

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The Sacred Year: Mapping the Soulscape of Spiritual Practice -- How Contemplating Apples, Living in a Cave and Befriending a Dying Woman Revived My Li 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
E_Dickau More than 1 year ago
A Year worthy of Reading!  I highly recommend this book.    Michael is a gifted storyteller; lively and excited to tell stories that have shaped him while at the same time being very honest and vulnerable. I like how Michael sees contemplation as a practice of engagement with God, yourself, and the world. Rather than being something which isolates us, I've learned how contemplation actually brings us into the world, with renewed vision and capacity to work towards the Kingdom of God.   After reading about how Michael was challenged and impacted by taking up various spiritual practices (ways of living), i feel invited and even excited to see how these practices will shape me as well.  Already I have found myself more attentive and grateful.  I look forward to giving this book as a gift and hope that North American Christians will be transformed and encouraged by the wisdom in these pages.  
Joyinthesmallthings More than 1 year ago
Michael asked me to read and review his newest book, The Sacred Year, and I immediately said yes because I had loved reading Under the Overpass. I quickly realized this book was going to be different. Words like “Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself in a dark wilderness,” from Dante’s Inferno, and “The problem with doing more and more is that it makes answering your question-where am I most myself?- almost impossible,”  captured me. I kept reading with a hope that maybe I, too, could be changed. This is Michael’s story, but I found myself challenged to embrace new spiritual practices in my own life.   The past six months have been filled with much loss for me. You wouldn’t notice it by just looking at me, but deep down, I am fragile, thirsty, finding my footing in the new normal of life. While I have kept a thankful journal off and on for years, the Daily Examen took this practice a step further. “You begin with gratitude, then move into a petition to God for clarity, crescendo with a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour review of the day’s events, descend into confession for the wrongs committed, and wrap things up with express hope of living well in the time that is to come.” I have been a Christian for many years and lately the reading of my Bible has been one more thing to check off my list. Lectio Divina is another spiritual practice I am starting to embrace. Michael explains it well, “In Lectio Divina we come to Holy Text not to be informed, but to be formed. Not to coolly observe, but to taste and become… To slow down and sit with the text, giving twenty minutes to twenty words or even two, instead of trying to blaze through four or five whole chapters in the same amount of time.”  I could go on and on about this book, but I would rather you read it for yourself and find those practices which speak to you, and start applying them to your own life. You will be changed, I guarantee it! After reviewing this book, I bought five copies for close friends and family members. I would recommend this book to anyone who is searching for something more. For anyone who has been a Christian for a long time and is feeling stuck in a rut. I would also recommend this book to someone looking at Christianity for the first time. Michael’s style of writing is accessible to all. His voice rings genuine and true. I highly recommend The Sacred Year.
Copygirl More than 1 year ago
I thought The Sacred Year—with its subtitle that talked of “contemplating apples [and] living in a cave”—would be a fun read on the order of A. J. Jacob’s book The Know-It-All, on reading the Encyclopedia Britannica from beginning to end, or his The Year of Living Biblically, where he tried to live the Old Testament laws, including stoning adulterers. Yeah, I was wrong. This book (which I received free from BookLook Bloggers) has it’s funny moments, but it’s not just a compendium of absurd actions taken by a writer who takes something to the extremes simply so he can write about it. Michael Yankoski dove headlong into the spiritual disciplines to save his life after a rude awakening to the sometimes fakeness of celebrity Christianity. Yes, he goes to extremes, like living in a cave for a week to practice silence or digging a grave to focus on his own mortality, but his goal is to allow the disciplines to shape his soul and thus his life, his relationships, his actions. I will never take on the disciplines in the way Yankoski did. (In addition to no cave-dwelling or grave-digging, there will be no darning socks on a bus or hiking 48.6 miles to a monastery.) But after reading The Sacred Year, the lessons he learned are swirling through my head. I have lived (too recently) these feelings he describes: “I’m flat-out weary from the ever-present fear that I am falling behind, that I’m not getting ahead, that I’m not doing enough, not swinging the hammer high enough or hard enough.” I wasn’t raised in a tradition that spoke much of spiritual disciplines other than reading the Bible and praying, but over the years I’ve learned how I need much more than this duet, and how easy it is to let them go. Yankoski’s book adds to the spiritual discipline symphony I’ve already discovered. It reminds me why I need to consciously incorporate them into my life as I make everyday decisions. As I intentionally begin to practice the spiritual disciplines, I will need to listen more and more to the Spirit of God. Yankoski puts it this way: “Taken together . . . the spiritual practices become a lifelong way. . . . The unfathomable invitation presented to us in the way of spiritual practice is to work synergistically with God by walking on that pilgrim path, to meld our hearts and minds and wills and our very lives with God through the ongoing journey until we are at last standing in the full light of day, fully ‘conformed to the image of his Son.’” If you desire to be conformed to the image of Christ, take the time to delve into The Sacred Year. It isn’t easy, but it’s worth the trip. 
lmbartelt More than 1 year ago
Rarely do I advise people to NOT read a book. I'm a believer in reading, whatever your preferred genre, however long it takes you. But for this book, The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski, I feel compelled to caution you before you begin reading. It's one of those dangerous books that will force you to ask hard questions about your life and will make you responsible for your decisions. If you're not prepared to consider a different way of living, then don't even think about reading this book. That said, The Sacred Year is one of my favorite reads so far this year. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book through Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my review.) Yankoski, who gained fame as the author of Under the Overpass, recounts his search for meaning and purpose in his faith. As a sought-after Christian speaker, Yankoski comes to a point of seeing himself as a person spread too thin with very little depth. He commits to exploring spiritual practices that act counter-culturally to the way he currently lives. He focuses on practices like solitude, simplicity, confession, pilgrimage, gratitude and justice. There are 18 in all, and his experiences are as challenging as they are fascinating. This is not a book to rush through or read carelessly, and while it can be overwhelming to consider the kind of life Yankoski presents, he encourages readers to consider one or two of the practices for starters and begin living a life of more depth. I've enjoyed Yankoski's writing in the past. He is an honest and captivating storyteller who doesn't paint perfect pictures of his journey but acknowledges the hard parts and the failings. My copy of the book is already well-worn and dog-eared from the many places his words hit home. An entire section on creativity has become an agent for change in my writing life. Despite my earlier warning, there's nothing to fear about this book. It hits at the heart of a longing I think many are feeling about living a life of faith, purpose and meaning. Not an easy book to read but a necessary one. Definitely among my top books for the year.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
How could staring at an apple for over an hour help you to change your focus? How could digging a grave help give you a deeper understanding of what our own mortality means? How long could you sit in a room in utter silence until you had to do something or engage in another activity? How can you learn to appreciate all that life has to offer when you can't seem to find hope and happiness anymore? I found some amazing insights into one man's spiritual walk, Michael Yankoski during one year he entitled in his book, The Sacred Year. In meeting with a man known as Father Solomon, he engaged Michael to take his own spiritual journey to find deeper nourishment, deeper encouragement, and deeper hope in a book that follows, through the ups and downs of one honest questioner's year of spiritual practice. There are simply so many amazing things that my poor copy of this book is more dog-eared than not. From outstanding quotes that open each chapter to the insights Michael discovered in so many profound ways, causes the reader to stop and pause at their own life, and realize how much we are truly missing. From learning to appreciate a great meal simply by fasting for 24 hours gives you a greater sense of the food you are eating. A good meal is never more appreciated than when you have gone without food for a few days. How too often we simply give up appreciating the abundance of food and flavors we have available to us simply by walking into a grocery store. How when challenged to learn how to reclaim items that too often we simply discard not because we can't use them any longer but because we don't want them anymore. "We humans throw away such an astonishing amount of stuff every year, especially in the developed world. Resources are scarce, clean air and water and land are precious, and perhaps one of the ways of protecting what remains includes reclaiming what we might throw away, like lumber scraps, clothing or furniture. If we truly don't want them, and they are perfectly good, why not consider donating them instead? Michael actually spent time dumpster diving to see just what we so often throw away that still has value left in it. How learning what is really important instead of the stronger overtaking the weaker, building something bigger, better and bolder, when you consider what is the point of it all anyway? "Is everything we build just destined to become rubble in another's ambition? For all the power and wealth here, for all the cultural influence and clout these culture-makers possess with their red carpets and private jets, they will all - we will all - one day be six feet under." (pg 111). He gains an insight into his own mortality digging a grave by hand. "The fact that I'm going to be down there someday. That we're all going to be down there someday. And the whole world will just keep on going about its business above us, like we were never even here."(pg 114). He uncovers how God views us all not as a harsh judge looking for the moment to wipe us off the planet but in discovering through a close friend who is dying of cancer, how God views sin in our life like as a father views cancer taking the life of his daughter. The father hates cancer with an absolute, burning passion. So sin is like cancer, eating us alive, diminishing what we're made to be. It's a cancer of the mind, a cancer of the heart, a cancer of the soul. And it has spread out like a tumor throughout our whole selves. And, like the Bible says, "the wages of sin," are like the effects of untreated cancer, "is death." "And God like the father of the child with cancer, hates sin, hates the cancer that is eating us alive. He loves us and so he hates whatever it is that is killing us. He doesn't hate us, though, He loves us. He loves us and hates cancer, hates cancer because He loves us. God desires for us to live, to flourish, to thrive. That is why He made us. That is why God keeps us in existence from moment to moment." (pg 131). I received The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski compliments of Thomas Nelson Publishers and Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own unless otherwise notated. There is simply so much to be gleaned from Michael's book and in his own year long search for something more than simply making it through this life doing the best we can with what God has given us. For those of you looking for a little bit more insight as the world grows at an exponential rate leaving us as debris in its wake, you just might uncover a true diamond in the rough tucked between the covers of this book.. I easily give this one a 4.5 out of 5 stars and can't wait to begin my own journey!
Theophilusfamily More than 1 year ago
  The Sacred Year became a 2014 favorite right away.  Michael Yankoski's writing epitomizes "productive contemplation" without ever devolving into navel-gazing.  This book is full of stories and he takes the time to tell them well, tasting, touching, savoring... meditating on each experience.  His observations in the opening chapter are spot on. We are all busy with working and caring and dealing with problems and chasing dreams. It's a crazy world, and we have noisy minds and often broken hearts.  It can all become one big carnival ride (inside our souls and out) and we can lose touch with reality as we live our lives.   We need something to bring us back, to center us, to reassure us and to hold us.  When Michael took his concerns to a spiritual retreat, an older monk understood the unasked questions. And this Brother guided him toward his first Sacred Year. Those intimidating and misunderstood things called "spiritual practices"  would soon become the rhythm of his days.  The unfolding year was spent "trimming the sail" of his soul, hoping to better catch the Wind of the Spirit.  And Michael brings us into that year, through 18 chapters, each one devoted to a different practice.  As Brother Solomon carefully explained, these practices aren't methods of earning grace or getting God's favor.  In fact, they aren't strictly methods at all, in the sense of "systematic procedures."   There is a chapter about Daily Bread, the process of growth, harvest, and preparation that links us humans to our sustenance. It's funny, most of us eat three meals a day and it's so easy to forget that our food comes from the earth, and that nourishing is more than caloric intake. It made me want to go cook something.  There is Guilty as Charged, on confession. He delves into the heart of what confession is, the pain and darkness that we can feel, and then points to the merciful Hand that reaches down to us. He reminds us that confession should bring healing instead of shame, and be life-giving instead of threatening. Into The Wild, this chapter is on seeking out nature. There's a reason why Anne Frank, St. Francis, and Dostoyevsky all found God in His creation.  As Edna St. Vincent Millay cried in her poetry "O God, I push the grass apart and lay my finger on Thy heart!"  Taste and Become, a chapter on reading Scripture to soak it in and thus be transformed, rather than striving to dissect the text. He was dead on with his description of my own "skim and scavenge" reading habits. It may be efficient for completing a book, but is that the worthiest goal, to get things done fast?  Ah, all this review can be is a basic outline. If you read the book you'll get much more meat.  In full disclosure, I originally thought the subtitle "contemplating apples, living in a cave, and befriending a dying woman revived my life" made this sound like one of those trendy 12-Steps-to-a-Spiritual-High books.  Nope. The Sacred Year is the farthest thing from that.  This is his personal journey of communion and community, and something in here will assuredly speak to you. You'd better have a pen and a highlighter handy as you read, and then expect to give some copies out as Christmas gifts.  Final thought: The Sacred Year is delightful, ecumenical, and honest.  Thank you Litfuse for my review copy.
jrmunn More than 1 year ago
The Sacred Year is a journey through the soul. Michael acts as both a guide and a friend as he narrates his own travels from the shallow pools of frantic action to a depth of life and peace. At the twists and turns one feels him echoing your own words, your own desire for simplicity, meaning, life. With characteristic humour and humility, Michael shares with us both his deep fears and his experiments with the spiritual practices that have brought him grounding and meaning. But The Sacred Year is not just a memoir, it is a devotional and a resource. As a writer, I have deeply appreciated his craft--not just telling us about the spiritual life, but narrating spiritually. Each practice, whether confession, rest, or pilgrimage, is a personal invitation into engaging God in a profound way. As a leader in our local church community, I have found these practices (and the forms that they take in The Sacred Year) both inspiring and creative. Just recently I had a room of youth contemplating an apple--and reflecting together on God's creation in new ways. The Sacred Year is a profound book, highly recommended for those wanting inspiration to more deeply connect with their own soulscape, or those looking for ways to find a more grounding and authentic spiritual life in the midst of a frantic world.
D_Munn More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Sacred Year – and would highly recommend it to anyone desiring to live more fully and intentionally in this beautiful world.  What I particularly appreciated was the way Michael described so vividly with deep authenticity, the temptation to live our lives an inch deep and mile wide – tossed to and fro with the demands of life!  The Sacred Year poignantly touches upon different practices that can be developed in our lives to help us pay attention to the small gifts of life that invite us into deeper living.  I personally enjoyed being challenged by the practice of simplicity, and already have started to give away clothes that I haven’t been wearing!  Using personal examples, wisdom from others and poignant conversations with a monk - this book is funny, exceptionally written, thought provoking.  I haven’t enjoyed reading a book this much in a very long time!   
Nparisi More than 1 year ago
In this fast paced world of moving from one task to the next Michael Yankoski’s book The Sacred Year is a powerful tool to help us break free and experience the transformative depths that ancient spiritual practices can have in our modern lives.   The book is contemplative and authentic; it was something I needed to read.   
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Sacred Year is refreshing, to say the least. In an environment of doing more and leaning in, The Sacred Year gives us the freedom to step back and find God in the quiet and even the mundane.  A captivating and thought-provoking book, The Sacred Year has caused me to contemplate the presence of God in my daily life. Things like preparing food, feeling the wind, and going to sleep now take on an intentional and sacred meaning and Yankoski's views on the Sabbath have challenged me to rethink how it is practiced. The Sacred Year is an important book and is destined to become a classic on par with Foster's Celebration of Discipline.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago