The Cultivated Life by Susan Phillips just came to me as a book club purchase from IVP Book Club. I sat down with this book and devoured it. Through the reading I felt I was able to begin breathing again.
The first metaphor she dealt with was precisely my life, and our lives in the American culture: it’s a circus. We are consumed by media. We think we have control… but we don’t. It may not be TV anymore, but it’s social media that replaces it. It’s the earphones over the ears so we can blast music as distraction… it’s a constant humming that has been cultivated into our lives.
It’s not even a matter of observing. We now have the temptation to BECOME the story. We want to photo bomb and somehow be in the story.
The hard move is to choose to cultivate a different life in the midst of the circus. We need to get away from the mentality of “bigger, faster, stronger” or the hype that gets played all the time. The battle is to move away from “heroic” feats (which are no longer heroic because we overuse the word) and realize what is far more beneficial is the development of persons and relationships.
Our current culture either has us in “full on” mode or “veg out” mode. We don’t know how to cultivate a purposeful life.
The book is a gentle prodding. It is a set of ideas on how to cultivate something fuller, deeper, in the midst of our circus world.
One practice that captured me was a modified lectio divina. I have taught and practiced this discipline, but she mentioned the ability to go back to a particular passage every day for a month to keep gleaning.
This is something I am deeply resonating with in my life right now.
Also, I have seriously missed the discipline of fasting. Yes… I’ve missed it. As I head from Labor Day to an annual retreat, I will walk more purposefully in fasting to find yet another way to get out of the circus, at least for a time.
I highly recommend this book as a resource. It can become a friend over many months for a journey that will get you off the flying trapeze and away from the flaming hoops.