A month or so ago I received a short book to review from Zondervan Publishing entitled, God in My Everything: How an Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God. It has taken me longer than normal to get through this book, not due to any fault in the prose, but because it seemed a book better digested in a thoughtful and disciplined manner. In essence what author Ken Shigematsu is attempting to do with this book is to reintroduce the modern world to the concept of a rule of life. A Rule of Life is an intentional pattern of spiritual disciplines that provides structure and direction for spiritual growth. While the idea of a spiritual discipline may sound foreign at first, Shigematsu does an excellent job of making these ancient practices timely and relevant to the 21st century reader.
I was initially intrigued due to the fact that I have had a life-long fascination with all things related to monasticism. In fact, when I was in high school I even briefly toyed with the idea of joining a religious order. While the desire for monastic seclusion faded fast, the draw towards a life ordered by contemplative practices never really left me.
Our lives today are not the well ordered lives of a ancient craftsman, a medieval peasant, or a colonial farmer. From the first effects of the industrial revolution, which drastically changed the natural rythms of life, to the technical revolution of the 20th century, which introduced the concept of multi-tasking into the human lexicon, we now live in a world of speed. Speed that is equated with efficiency, and efficiency is treated as an objective good. Haste, once a vice, has become a virtue. God in My Everything attempts to move us from the high speed commuter lane back to the blue highways of our collective past where life really happens.
The book is divided into 4 parts, each one directing readers towards a different aspect of creating their own rule. Shigematsu uses the image of a trellis to explain how a rule can support the whole of a person’s life from establishing solid roots, to relating to others, having periods of restoration and finally reaching out to the world at large. Each section leads the reader through a thorough explanation of the particular “trellis support” and then details how that can be put into practice in one’s own life, complete with personal anecdotes from the author’s own journey.
Shigematsu loosens theses ancient monastic practices from the dogmatic rigidity of the past in order to unmask the underlying truth of these timeless spiritual disciplines. In God in My Everything we have a rule that is sustainable and practical for our modern lives. The concepts may be ancient, but the treatment is modern, and that is what makes this a profitable read for those looking for a way to slow down and get more out of their lives.