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God in the Yard: Spiritual practice for the rest of us Paperback – May 15, 2010
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L.L. Barkat invites us to chase spirituality in much the same way a child chases the tail of a kite...by finding the beautiful balance between what's just beyond reach and what's entirely ours for the taking. Her words are full of hope, joy, wonder. --Holley Gerth, Senior Writer and Editorial Director, Dayspring, and Co-Founder InCourage
This brilliant work is one part inspirational, one part practical. I've not read a more groundbreaking book about spiritual discipline since Richard Foster, and I'll never think about communion again in quite the same way. --Marcus Goodyear, Senior Editor, TheHighCalling and Christianity Today's FaithInTheWorkplace
Mix Richard Foster and Annie Dillard in a blender, and you'll pour out God In the Yard, a cool smoothie of hope on the topic of spiritual practice. --Ginger Kolbaba, Editor, Christianity Today's 'Kyria'
This wonderful book causes us to pause, that we might discover and recover ourselves, God, others, and aspects of this amazing world in which we live. L.L. Barkat's wise words move us more deeply into matters of consequence. --David Naugle, professor of philosophy, Dallas Baptist University, and author of Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness
This is a book of meeting. A thoughtful, intentional exploration of what it means to live out spiritual disciplines in a modern context, by a writer with a poet's eye, arresting language and keen mind. --Ann Voskamp, of Holy Experience
About the Author
L.L. Barkat is Managing Editor of Tweetspeak Poetry, where writers and poets can find everything from basic inspiration to full-fledged writing workshops. The author of six books, including fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, Barkat understands the writing process from all angles and gently, skillfully mentors both up-and-coming and established writers.
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As she explains, for a year Barkat undertook a purposeful journey in "discovery and playing toward God." She didn't travel to a remote spiritual location or retreat house; instead, she spent time in her back yard. She didn't start with huge expectations; instead, she aimed at "gentle" results. She used a variety of tools - meditation, contemplation, writing and blogging.
In addition to her own journey and what she learned and found, the result was this book. It is like a little gem whose value is more like a pearl of great price.
Each of the 12 weeks centers on a topic and specific practice, with assignments and exercises. The topics range from invitation and celebration to silence and hospitality. She discusses what she learned, and invites the reader to learn as well. While it is a disciplined approach, it's not an onerous discipline but more of a gentle one.
What I particularly liked was how I slowed down and actually thought, for this book is as much if not more about thinking as doing. The exercises took me to places I didn't expect to go, reminding me of things I had long forgotten or simply needed to be reminded of. I thought, I wrote journal entries including several poems, and used blogging as a means to keep me on track.
And it worked. The whole book works, in fact, as a spiritual exercise, an exercise for the soul.
I'm in the 11th week of 12 and I don't want it to end. I've done a lot of different spiritual disciplines over the years and while many have been very beneficial, this one has been like no other. It's much less structured yet structured enough to keep you on track.
Barkat doesn't preach at you to do this or do that, but gently invites you into her own story. And asks you to participate with God in what he wants you to learn from your story. Each chapter focuses on a particular theme (like submission, celebration, silence, etc.) and has a set of 3 question groupings to help you zero in on a thought.
Each chapter also includes a suggested activity for "Playing towards God & discovery (like Bridge Building, Word Play Equation, Open `n Close) as well as a weekly prayer, encouragement for stream-of-consciousness writing or doodling, and an invitation to blog or journal about what you've learned that week.
Even though I didn't follow everything to the letter, I still benefited richly from this time and I'm glad I documented much of it on my blog.
While I may be near the end of the 12 weeks, I hope I won't stop this new spiritual discipline that has helped me learn to slow down and notice the details that God wants me to delight in.
I've been on a quest for quite some time about spiritual disciplines. I want so much to hear God in a fresh way and I've been drawn to many books about spiritual disciplines in the last 10 years. Most books speak in generalities. This one gives you something to do, to actually help you in your quest to spend time with God and learn to hear His voice in your life.
I love this little book, because it's simple. I don't have the money nor the time to go off on a spiritual retreat or a silence retreat, although I'd love to. So, "God in the Yard" is a wonderful invitation to come aside in your own yard/corner/closet and spend a bit of time with God. I love to write, so this plays right into my hand, these exercises she suggests. But I think what really grabbed me was the pure simplicity of the questions in chapter one. Wanting to get to the end of the book was put aside as I read because I found I really WANTED to answer the questions. It's a first...
I'm looking forward to strolling through this book with God. Thank you L.L. for a sweet invitation to spend time with my Lord!
Barkat made an odd commitment after reading a book she found pivotal: Radical Simplicity, by Jim Merkel. With her senses and soul opened wide, for one year she spent time in her small backyard every day—no matter the weather—“to find some contentment and beauty."
A contagiously interactive book, pages nearly vibrate with unexpected observations. Paradoxes abound, which invite further musing and exploration. Amid scenes from the author's life and readings, Soul Questions invite reader participation. For example:
When I was a child, I lived______________
Today I live________________________
If I could, I would return to_____________
There is wisdom and humor and candor here, alongside compelling generosity. I am still under its spell.