Reading and retreating – going on a retreat – are two practices that nourish our spiritual growth. In our everyday hectic distraction-filled life we need to be intentional about what feeds our spirit. Too often we focus on other people’s needs or give into the addiction of busyness. We neglect the holy habits that help us hear, know and love God.
My bedside stand has been full of great books that have called to me lately and I thought I would share a few with you. Yes I am one of those types that have many books going at one time.
Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva Dawn – I am revisiting this book as I attempt to honor the Sabbath more each week. This book explores the different dimensions of ceasing, resting, embracing and feasting – a very holistically approach to the Sabbath.
Daring Greatly – Brene Brown. I mentioned this book on my recent post about Being Stretchedthis year. Brene researches the value of having the courage to be vulnerable and how that can tranform the way we live. This is one book I will revisit over and over again.
The end of April I will be attending a conference where I will listen to two interesting authors; Richard Rohr and James Finley. I have been reading some of their writings in preparation for those days:
The Naked Now:Learning to see as the Mystics See by Richard Rohr.
This is a book to slowly read and absorb. I write in its margins and highlight many sentences. I find many of its words challenging.
“Two universal and prime paths of transformation have been available to every human being God has created: great love and great suffering. Only love and suffering are strong enough to break down our usual ego defenses, crush our dual thinking and open us up to Mystery.”
“All great spirituality is somehow about letting go.”
ChristianMeditation: Experiencing the Presence of God – James Finley.
This book explores the ancient practice of contemplation and presents its background in simple easy to understand language. I haven’t finished this one yet but I like how he directs our focus always on God.
The Cloud of theUnknowing. I read an earlier version of this Christian classic book from the 14th century and to be honest with little understanding other than what the presenter told me in a class. This newer translation by Carmen Acevedo Butcher is so much easy to read and study. Each chapter is short as in 1-2 pages and the author slowly teaches the reader about contemplative prayer. If you ever want to read this book, be sure to get Butcher’s version.
Not For Sale by David Batstone – I am reading this on my Kindle in response to a deepening call to social justice. Not the most comfortable book to read as it is about the human traficking industry that has multiplied everywhere. Twenty seven million slaves exist in our world today. Many things I buy were made by forced labor. This is not just a third world country problem; human traficking is happening in our own backyards.
My hope is to attend at least one multi-day retreat each year. I don’t always make that goal, but I know these days away with the Lord centers me and nourishes me. I do love retreating.
This month I will be at a two retreats.
The first one this coming weekend I am presenting twice. I participate in a local group called the Carpenter House Ministry and we are often invited to come to retreat centers in NW Ohio to lead retreat. The theme of this particular one is “Sailing the C’s of Marriage.”
The question is since I am presenting can I also receive? If I am intentional I usually can find time to drink in the Lord. I plan to bring my journal and spend some time in their beautiful neighboring cathedral.
I pray to stay open to hear God’s whisper in the messages from the other presenters and from conversations with the participants.
The next weekend I am attending a four-day SILENT retreat. Yep, I will shut my mouth for four days. Hard to believe? This retreat is also at a beautiful center in Ohio called the Lial Renewal Center.
We open with dinner and chatting Thursday evening then enter into silence. We do meet with a spiritual director each day to share what we are experiencing. I have learned in the past it takes time for the noise of the world and all the internal dialogue in my brain to drain away for a space for God to enter in. Again my journal and my Bible and lots of time gazing and listening for God will be my nourishment.
What books are feeding your soul presently? Do you plan a retreat this year? What are you reading and retreating?
Jean Wise says
Laura I learned several years ago I have to be very intentional to seek out then plan to go on a retreat. They usually refresh my spirit, and give me clarity. I find them priceless and really can’t see living without them.
I Sooooo need to retreat, Jeanie!
Jean Wise says
I have to take my time with Rohr to digest what he says. I can’t wait to hear him in person the end of April. Will let you know how it goes. I am sure there will be at least one blog post full of ideas from him.
Laura Boggess says
My Centering Prayer group is gettng ready to read the Naked Now, Jean. I bet Rhor will be wonderful to hear! Would love to sit at his feet a while. You’ll have to let me know how it goes. Praying for you as you retreat, my friend! Sounds wonderful.
Jean Wise says
I love Yancey but haven’t read that book. Thanks! I love nuggets of wisdom like that!
Jean Wise says
Ah Jody, you and I have the same passion. I have been looking at a few site where blogger use their words for social justice but haven’t really started that yet. This has been on my heart and in my prayers. Amy Sullivan does post like that too. Bloggers can really help to get the word our on an issue. Yes I would love to hear more.
I think I have that book you mentioned. will have to check. Thanks for the idea and reminder of a book I enjoyed.
Nancy Ruegg says
‘Grace Notes’ by Philip Yancey is a collection of his writings, organized into short, one-page-a-day devotionals. We received the book for Christmas, in plenty of time to start on January 1. I’m already up to October! His wise insights surprise me and challenge me. I can’t stop with just one reading per day. Here’s a sample nugget (out of dozens I could share) that stands on its own: “Prayer means keeping company with God who is already present.”
Jody Collins says
Jean, my sabbath time has been stitched together in 15 minute chunks throughout the week and the book that’s been speaking to me very powerfully is ‘God in the Yard’ by Laura Barkat–‘Spiritual Practice for the rest of us’ is the tagline. It was hard to begin because I was afraid of the commitment–an hour a day for 12 weeks–but when I decided ANY time I set aside to listen to God is better than, I began the journey. I’ll be blogging about it in the future as I’m processing the chapters slowly.
I was pleased to see you are also reading a book about human trafficking. I have recently felt a strong urging SOMEHOW to unite bloggers in an effort towards awareness of this problem. It is rampant in South King County–Seattle–esp. the sex slave trafficking. I feel it is like the civil rights issue of the century–Christians are do much about it, but more can be done….I’m simmering an idea for mobilization. Sounds radical, I know. Maybe I’ll share it with you?
Thanks for asking such great questions!
Jean Wise says
Hi Katharine. I am such a book addict! ( : Try a silent retreat sometime. I now seek one out once a year. makes a real difference for me.
Katharine Barrett says
What a great book list! I have always wanted to go to a silent retreat, I hope it is a wonderful time for you! I’m glad to be your SDG neighbour this week! Blessings!