For years, I’ve struggled with spiritual disciplines. Growing up evangelical, of course I’ve always known about the need for “quiet time,” but other than that, I don’t recall a whole lot of direction for how to actually accomplish this mysterious and vital thing. I’ve tried devotionals, apps, picking a random book of the Bible to read through, and dipping in and out of the Book of Common Prayer or the Psalter. I’ve felt guilty for not being enough of a morning person, and guilty for falling asleep at evening prayer. But this year, finally, I found something that works for me. Maybe I’d dare say it’s changed my life?
If you haven’t heard of Sacred Ordinary Days, well then, let me introduce you to a tool that has helped change my daily rhythms for the better. It may sound like an exaggeration, but after four months using their weekly planner, I finally get how to prioritize spiritual practice in the middle of everyday life. It has an elegant, open-ended design and incorporates the liturgical calendar, weekly Sabbath and examen pages, limited priority lists, Lectionary readings, and a good bit of unlabeled space to write. A few ways this planner has helped me…
Reading through the Lectionary gives guidance to my Bible reading. I didn’t grow up with the Lectionary in my spiritual vocabulary, but I’ve found that small passages from the Old Testament, Psalms, New Testament, and Gospels, in sync with the Christian calendar and churches all over the world, has opened me up to a whole new way of reading. Now I see surprising connections between passages and the cohesion of story, poetry, and doctrine, making the familiar feel brand new.
Short, repeated readings encourage lectio divina. The ancient practice of sitting with and praying through Scripture feels much more natural when you’re only reading a few short sections over and over for a week. Sometimes I find myself lingering on a story, a verse, a word, and it’s beautiful. (Bonus for busy people: you don’t need an hour every morning to do this. Even a short read-through can be enough.)
Limited writing space helps me see what matters. You can’t make a huge to-do list when you only have three priority slots. And you can’t journal for pages and run down a rabbit trail when there are only a few lines of space per day. I use the journal space to write insights from the readings or note important moments of the day. You might use it for something else.
The Sabbath page is one big blank space! Again, highlighting what matters. A visual reminder to rest. It makes an excellent space for sermon notes too.
I’m keeping a record of my spiritual life. All the struggles, the goodness, the changes, the beauties of ordinary days. I’m looking forward to revisiting the story of this year when Advent comes around again. And yes, you can bet I’ll have a fresh, blank planner ready for the new year.
If this sounds helpful but you aren’t sure yet, take a little time to explore their website, download a free preview, and check out the current sale. Now that the year is well underway, you can get a great deal on all current planners, maybe even pick up an Academic edition and try it out for these last few months of the school year. And if you’re already a fan, I’d love to hear how you use yours!
Jen Rose Yokel is a poet, freelance writer, and spiritual director. Her words have appeared at She Reads Truth, CCM Magazine, and other publications, and she released her first poetry collection Ruins & Kingdoms in 2015. Originally from Central Florida, she now makes her home in Fall River, Massachusetts with her husband Chris, where you can find her enjoying used bookstores and good coffee.