April Yamasaki is my boss. She is forcing me to post this interview…
Well, not really. April and I work together at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, British Columbia Canada. It is a privilege to work with someone as talented and ‘with it’ as her. Her book, “Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal,” just came out and it is good. For a nitty gritty equipper for the average person attempting to find time in our noisy world for spiritual practice, this is the book for you. Because of her writing style and pastoral presence you will put this book down and feel encouraged to participate in spiritual practice. For this type of content, that is extremely important.
It was a joy to interview her on about this new title.
1. With many books on spiritual practices available, what prompted you to write this book? Where does it stand apart?
I wrote Sacred Pauses as a user-friendly guide to spiritual disciplines–for those who may or may not be particularly disciplined, who may or may not think of themselves as spiritual, but who long for rest and renewal in the midst of everyday life. In this book, spiritual disciplines are not a burden; instead, they’re spiritual practices that can delight and refresh us. The book is personal–filled with stories from my own life and others. It’s practical–with simple exercises that you can try for yourself. It’s a fresh approach that is both rooted in ancient Scripture and addresses life today, including both the classic Christian disciplines like Scripture and prayer, and more unexpected ones like making music and having fun.
2. Describe the process in writing the book. What was important and helpful to your work?
As I look back on the process, it was helpful to work with a small publisher where there was both a sense of collaboration with the editors (questions, comments, emails that helped me reflect on my writing and helped to shape the book) and also simply being left alone to write. When the writing seemed slow or difficult, it was helpful for me to remember the writing advice of Canadian author David Adams Richards “just to finish.” After all, he said, “It may not be the greatest thing in the world, but then again it might be, and you never know it might spark someone or something else.”
3. What is the meaning behind the title Sacred Pauses? How did you come to this title, and what is it’s connection with spiritual practices?
My original working title for the book was “Time Out”–since so much of life feels like Time On for me, “Time Out” sounded like a welcome break. But when I tried to explain my Time Out title to one of my friends who is a teacher, she immediately responded, “When I think of time out, I think of my students–you know, how kids sometimes need a time out.”
Well that was definitely not what I meant! So in collaboration with the editors of Herald Press, a new title emerged: “Sacred Pauses: spiritual practices for personal renewal.” After all, that’s really what a spiritual practice is–a sacred pause. I came to love the new title and re-worked the manuscript to reflect that.
4. How would you like to see individuals and churches use this kind of material? What is your hope with the message of this book?
A friend who read an advance copy of Sacred Pauses was so deeply affected by it that she gave her copy to another friend who was leaving on an 18-day trip to India. That friend read through the book as a way of grounding herself while she was travelling, and then decided that a third friend who lives in India also needed to read it, so passed the book on to her and resolved to buy another copy for herself. Hardly two weeks old, and the book is already making an impact in people’s lives and already on the other side of the world! I am amazed and grateful and humbled by that, and hope people will continue to discover the book and explore spiritual practice–to experiment and be refreshed, on their own or in groups, reading straight through the book or dipping into it here and there. It’s a practical and flexible resource that’s meant to be used and shared with others.
5. What other projects and work can we find you getting into in the future?
I continue to explore spiritual practice, faith, and life on my blog, and plan to develop it further–with my own original posts, plus Sacred Pauses interviews where readers can share their experiences and encourage one another, and with guest posts like the recent “Lectio Divina Goes Swimming.” My next writing project for regular print media is a series of sermons for CSS Publishing, which has published preaching and worship resources for over 30 years, primarily for “mainline” denominations. I appreciate being able to reach out in these ways, and also continue with my other main passion for full-time pastoral ministry, serving with you and others at Emmanuel. Thanks for hosting me on your blog!
Be sure to check out this title!