New Year’s resolutions are usually a flop. Good intentions are quickly squelched by “real life.” How can we escape the gravitational pull back to the place we want to leave? I’m happy to report that the Sacred Ordinary Days Liturgical Day Planner is a realistic way toward positive change!
What is it?
This book is a unique blending of a traditional day planner with several elements intended to integrate our daily plans with practices that help us become the people we desire to be.
What’s in it?
As I describe the pages below, you may refer to the images provided here or to the free Sacred Ordinary Days Workbook PDF. To see an enlarged copy of any image, simply click on the one you wish to see.
The Front and Back Covers
Inside the front cover is a visual, circular depiction of the Christian calendar. It is followed by a welcome statement and an owner’s square with the Sacred Ordinary Days website. Inside the back cover is a prayer labyrinth with accompanying instructions. Their location inside the covers makes them easy to access for frequent consultation.
Rule of Life
The first step is to create a “rule of life.” The creator of planner, Jenn Giles Kemper, explains what this is in the introduction, but since I had never created one, I found additional help from chapter 9 (“A Rule of Life”) in Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton. Real world examples can also be found at a link provided in the Sacred Ordinary Days Workbook. The point of the rule of life is to reflect on your life as a whole and determine the character traits you desire to integrate with the hubbub of life.
12 Month Snapshot
Following the instructions on how to use the liturgical planner is 12 month calendar snapshot which includes the major national and Christian holidays. Space is also provided to write in other special days.
Every season of the calendar is introduced with the its date range, themes, colors, and associated holy days. Every month starts with a two page, blank month which includes major holidays. This prompts you to reflect on the upcoming month and planned appointments, again with the goal of integrated living.
The format of Sundays intentionally differs from the rest of the week. The lefthand page includes a table with two main columns “reflect” and “reset.” There are 6 rows of topics on which to reflect and reset, including “spirit,” “body,” “mind,” “relationships,” “home,” and “work.” Ideally, you should consult your rule of life at this point since it is here that you identify the ways you have met your goals and the places where growth is desired. The readings for the day are from the Revised Common Lectionary. On the facing page is an inspirational quote followed by 13 lines to journal.
The rest of the week follows a fixed format with each day allotted 1 page. Every page has the day and date at the top followed by an inspirational quote from Common Prayer: a Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. This is followed by the Daily Office (readings from the Book of Common Prayer, but I’m told that this may change to the Revised Common Lectionary in future editions).
Under this are 3 projects on which to prioritize work. When a project is completed, you are encouraged to take advantage of either rest or reward before moving on to the next. Next, the page is split into two columns with the left providing 11 lines to journal and the right providing time slots to write in appointments or to break the day’s work into manageable sections. Finally, every page has ample blank space at the bottom for free writing.
The end of the book includes ample space for reflecting back on the year. Several types of blank pages are provided such as lined, dotted, and unlined. Two integrated ribbons permit quick access to the current month’s calendar and the current day of the week. While the book pages are “grey-color-tabbed” for each month, I added and labeled stick-on tabs so I could quickly grab the tab for any month I wish to look at.
A complete (45 min!) free video walk-through is available as well on YouTube. You can access the video by clicking here.
Why do you like it?
- It is tangible.
- It is rhythm forming.
- It orients and focuses.
- It is useful and practical.
- It is thoughtful and intentional.
- It provides a context for bonding if used with a friend, spouse, or small group.
How would you improve it?
While I’m only a few weeks into the book, I really love what Jenn has put together. I honestly do not have any immediate complaints. Yet, I do have a few ideas to make the book even better!
- More color options. The current color offerings are grey and mint green. They are sharp, but I can see people wanting more variety here. I’m told that cloth covers are in the works.
- Include artwork. The book is very text oriented and would benefit from artwork. Cost or copyright issues might prohibit this from becoming a reality but a more significant visual dimension to this planner would further set it apart from other planners and integrate more senses into transformation.
- Different size options. The book is not too heavy, though it is about the size of a small textbook. This makes it much larger than average planners. This means, you have to be committed to carrying it around. Some might prefer a pocket-style planner, while others will want a fuller book size. I’m told that a trimmer, lighter weekly edition is in the works.
- Integrated, physical tabs. As mentioned above, physical tabs are preferred (at least by me) over those colored on the page. I prefer the external tab style, but a graduated cut in the page edges (like on some dictionaries) would work too.
- An iPad app equivalent. I’m hesitant to suggest this because the tangibility of the planner is what makes it powerful. While I am fully digitized, I find the principle “out of sight, out of mind” to apply. As such, I prefer a physical copy. Yet, there are likely people out there who would find appealing an app integrated with Apple, Google, Microsoft or other services.
Will it be a good fit for me?
This of course depends on many factors. If you can’t see yourself writing with a pen or pencil (so 20th century, I know), then perhaps this isn’t for you.
Another hurdle might be cost. Currently, the Academic Year version is currently on sale for $49 (+ $4 shipping) until sold out. The price is not exorbitant in comparison to other quality day planners, but the Panda Planner is available on Amazon for $26. It is not explicitly Christian and not exactly comparable, but it does offer a similar emphasis on regular reflection.
If neither of these are an issue and you are interested in a way to begin changing your rhythms of life, I am unaware of a better product to help make this a reality. Even if you have existing practices, you will be blessed by what this planner brings to your life. Additionally, the Facebook community associated with this journal is also a plus but this may not be a selling point for everyone. I’m told that a video library of resources on postures and practices of prayer and work will also gradually be released starting this Fall.
The Liturgical Year edition will be available for pre-sale on Sep. 26, 2016. It is identical to the Academic Year except that it starts with Advent at the very end of November.