Sacred Pauses on Tour: Have I become spiritually flabby?

For the second stop on my February blog tour, I’m very glad to visit Melodie Davis who blogs over at Third Way Cafe, and is the author of Whatever Happened to Dinner?  and eight other books. [The following post appeared on Melodie’s blog, but since that link is no longer live, I’m re-printing her post here.]

Another Way: Have I become spiritually flabby?
by Melodie Davis

How convenient that Lent follows a three-month-long season of feasting and parties for many of us in North America: Thanksgiving in October (Canada) or November (U.S.), Christmas and New Year through December and into January (many extended families now hold family dinners right through January), and finally Super Bowl at the beginning of February.

I found it a hoot (but not surprising) that TV commentators were warning about chicken wing shortages over the Super Bowl feasting time. It would be funny if it weren’t sad.

Time to repent and get lean.

But Lent is about way more than fasting or dieting. Many of those who seek to draw closer to God are finding fresh ways to “fast” from things other than food. Perhaps it would be more meaningful to fast from Facebook, video games, gasoline, shopping, going out to dinner or even just from fast food. It is sometimes easier or more meaningful to have a friend or relative fasting with you, who helps keep you accountable.

I was happy to find and read a new book looking at something like 18 ways to help us draw closer to God, all year round, anytime. April Yamasaki is a writer and pastor who just released Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal.

Full disclosure: Herald Press is a part of MennoMedia which also publishes Another Way as part of its ministry (and has also published some of my books) but no one tells me what to write about in this space and I do not write about every book that comes out from the publishing arm. In fact, I wondered, and asked the author, what makes this different from other books on the importance of taking time for slowing down such as Wayne Muller’s popular book Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives (Bantam, 2000).

April casts a wide net in terms of activities she classifies as spiritual disciplines. Some included in her book are (which give lots of ideas for Lent):

  • Engaging Scripture
  • Prayer
  • Nature
  • Nurturing relationships
  • Giving
  • Making music
  • Fasting
  • Having fun
  • Paying attention
  • Confessing
  • Praying Scripture
  • Living simply

In other words, if prayer or Bible reading doesn’t always succeed in bringing you in closer relationship to God, perhaps music or a walk in nature or a night laughing with good friends can do that, when approached from the purposeful perspective of: today this is a spiritual practice for me.

I also like April’s book in that it focuses specifically on Christian faith and does not attempt to be universal or appeal to those of all religions. As a Christian (and Mennonite) pastor, her knowledge of Scripture and biblical story comes through in frequent references to Bible passages.

We can’t expect to grow in our faith and relationship with God without paying attention to it. We grow flabby, eventually unable to stand up. Coming off the hype of Superbowl season here in the U.S., April’s words along these lines hit me:

In the world of pro sports, an athlete can’t expect to win a game just by getting dressed and getting out there. He has to practice, to work out and condition himself—more than once, more than twice, on a regular basis. She can’t expect to win a game—or even lose with dignity—without practice. So too in our spiritual life, if we want to be prepared for the inevitable challenges that will come our way, we would benefit from spiritual practice. (p. 4)

How can you shape up during Lent—if not to pro status, at least toning some of those spiritual muscles?

 

aprilyamasaki.com

Related links in the Sacred Pauses blog carnival: