Wednesday, January 19, 2011

God in the Yard :: The Way

Three months ago, I began to read God in the Yard. As I realized the commitment requested of me in reading it, I realized I could not fully commit until January.

Chapter 1 had invited me to find a small space and commit to visiting it regularly while considering the topic of spiritual discipline. In the intervening three months, I have found my thoughts returning to the idea of that small space. It's an important concept, because a small space would allow me to become mentally free of the mundane for a few moments at a time.

Eventually I realize, I just enjoy sitting on my couch with a favorite mug of coffee and my bag containing Bible, journal, pen, current book, and a few assorted odds and ends. The bag makes the space my Small Space, in whatever corner of the house, or the world, I find myself with a few quiet moments.

On the first day of this year, I sat down with my Small Space, pulled out God in the Yard, and began reading Chapter 2: The Way. I have approached this chapter more slowly than the last, over the course of 13 days instead of a single afternoon.

I confess this is partly because I am still in a hurry, impatient because I still don't get where the author is trying to lead me. And I don't want to progress further until I feel I have fully experienced . . . whatever it is I am supposed to experience. After all, my One Word for this year is Drink. I want to drink deeply of whatever will help me draw near to God. So I persist, trying to find my own way, my own rhythm.

January 1
What quiet space? I do not have quiet spaces in my day, to let myself simply drift, to allow God to come alongside me. I wish I had the willpower, the self discipline to wake early and meet God in the beginning of my day.

Can I change? I think people don't tend to change dramatically, unless God does it from the inside. I suppose if I worked harder at preserving my quiet spaces, I could have more of them. Can God work to preserve my soul, if I don't make time for quiet space to hear him leading me? I don't know.

January 10
I believe failure to fly can be dangerous, because it indicates failure to develop properly. Paul addresses believers with this problem, saying they should be ready for meat by now, but they are still only mature enough for spiritual milk. And I suspect this may be true of me.
Can God change me? This is the one thing I seek right now. I drink from the well, almost desperately, desiring real change after decades of following him and sensing I could have done so much more of eternal significance by now.

Of the spiritual practices outlined in Scripture, I think the most obvious and all-encompassing is love. After that, I believe I am called to know God's message thoroughly. Bible study, memorization, teaching. Other important ones may stand behind those, but for now I am happy to dedicate myself primarily to the pursuit of these two.

January 13
I persevere into the next section, still a bit unclear about the direction this book attempts to lead. Then a quote rises off the page as if waiting there just for me:
"My job is not so much to practice a rigid set of disciplines as to pay attention."
Perhaps the way leads me here: to my goal of developing the discipline, the habit, of attending to what God would show me. Perhaps that is the point of spiritual discipline.

If spiritual discipline leads to being attentive to God's leading, then bring it on.

What do I really want in the way of personal transformation?
I hope God leads me to a more attentive frame of mind that includes being self-disciplined in my personal habits. I feel like I am failing (and flailing) at life. I want to feel in control of my family life. To have peace, a haven for my family to come to.

Peace; Patience; Self-Control. Those are the fruits struggling to grow in the garden of my soul, that I so desire to cultivate.

After accepting the Invitation, I begin to understand that The Way to pursue this journey toward God specifically involves learning to pay attention.

As it happens, the author is reading through this book and interacting with it, at the same time I am. She shares her journey on her blog here:

love notes button
l.l. barkat
I begin to feel encouraged that God may honor my attempt at pursuing him with my whole heart. My Small Space; my One Word; my Bible Memory project; all are my way of Paying Attention.

Speak, Lord.


  1. My heart ached as I read that you feel you are failing and flailing. You are so much, just as you are. Without making things perfect. Just being. Just being! He delights in you.

    I loved your "small space." It made me want to hand-sew a little bag for myself. A bag for sweet secret things. A special pen. Maybe a love note. A favorite verse. Or some pictures I cherish. And whatever book is on the top of my list.

    Be encouraged... the journey is everything, and holding his hand along the way.

  2. Love the bag concept (and the bag -- I am honored)... one that can go with you and create the 'Small Space' wherever you are! Good idea ... I struggle with finding that sacred place myself and yet find that my most 'productive' times with God are on my couch or chair as well. Love you! Thanks for sharing your journey! Mom

  3. Loved this book and I just reviewed it as well


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