Monday, May 31, 2010

Reading Update: Sacred Rhythms

I am so relieved to say that I have finally finished two of the books I've been reading! My goal is to share a short summary of sorts on each book I complete to keep the thoughts fresh in my mind and perhaps even encourage others along the way.

You might understand what an achievement it was to finish this book if I told you I began it almost three years ago! It isn't a long book but neither is it one to be read lightly. It is well written, with much food for thought. Addressing historic spiritual disciplines of the Christian life, the author explains seven of them and guides the reader in the practice of them. She chooses to use the term "spiritual rhythms" rather than disciplines to provide "relief from some of the heavy-handed and rigid approaches to the spiritual life that many have experienced" and to describe the "basic components of the rhythm of intimacy with God that feed and nourish the soul."

Overall, the author's emphasis is on desiring God and cultivating intimacy with Him.

To be truthful, it was an unusual read for me and I do think it is a book to be read with discernment. I did not agree one hundred percent with every concept, but I was moved to tears on several occasions. The book does not shy away from the emotional side of our relationship with God. For me that was refreshing because although I recognize that there needs to be a balance so that emotions and/or experience are not the basis of our faith, I do think sometimes as "conservative" Christians we are guilty of doing away with emotions altogether. Yet our Heavenly Father writes a book laden with love and emotional imagery such as Song of Songs to describe His relationship with us.

An aspect of the book which was especially helpful and convicting to me was its discussion of technology and its effects "on our mind, our soul and our relationships." The author shares her own struggles with making a time for silence and prayer and uninterrupted time with God against the pull of the computer, cell phone, e-mails, etc. that permeate our modern lives. She encourages thoughtfulness and discipline in this area, which personally is a challenge for me.

My response to the book is best summarized by the author's own closing thoughts:
I don't know about you, but I yearn for the freedom and beauty of a life that is completely oriented to the reality of God. I long to experience my soul hidden and content in the very depths of God, so that what is seen on the surface is transformed and energized by what take place in those depths. The choice to orient our life to God's transforming presence is always ours; sacred rhythms help us to say yes to this desire, day by day by day.


Walking to China said...

I agree about Sacred Rhythms. I went to an workshop the author gave a few years ago and it powerfully impacted me. But I've never finished the book! It just takes such careful reading!
I've read your blog off and on the for past few years but I think I've only commented once or twice. I enjoy reading about your life in Chile.

Joe said...

Hey Stephanie,
Thanks for the link. I've not read the book, but I've met the author and head her speak. My reactions would be similar to yours.