Spiritual Direction

One of my ministries is Spiritual Direction.  Below is some information about it.  You can read more at my website:  Fishdance Waves:  Spiritual Direction for Ordinary People.  You can contact me to schedule an appointment using the contact form on this blog or on Fishdance Waves.

What Is Spiritual Direction?

Spiritual direction is, in reality, nothing more than a way of leading us to see and obey the real Director — the Holy Spirit hidden in the depths of our soul. (Thomas Merton, Trappist monk, USA)

Spiritual direction, an ancient ministry of the church, is a relationship in which one person assists another, or others, in attending to God’s presence and call. Spiritual direction has been, and remains, particularly strong within Roman Catholic and Orthodox religious orders, and over the past twenty years Anglican and Protestant traditions have begun to recover it more fully. There is also growing interest in spiritual direction among other faith traditions, such as Judaism and Buddhism. Throughout Christian history, spiritual direction has traditionally been practiced by ordained clergy alone. In recent years, however, this practice has widened to embrace the spiritual gifts of non-ordained persons as well. Today, spiritual direction is regarded as a ministry open to all, not an order or office reserved for the few. (Presbyterian Church, USA)

Spiritual direction is essentially companioning someone in his or her spiritual life. Other ways of describing spiritual direction include holy listening, spiritual friendship, sacred journeying. (Janna Larson, Roman Catholic, USA)

As I understand it, spiritual direction is best seen as the “gathering together” of two (or more) people in the name of Jesus, who desire to listen prayerfully for the movement and presence of God’s Spirit. Spiritual direction fosters a relationship between a spiritual director and a directee, in orderto help the directee develop a closer relationship with God and to better discern how the Holy Spirit is leading in their daily and ordinary life.

Eugene Peterson, a Presbyterian pastor and writer, describes spiritual guidance this way, “It is teaching people to pray, to discern the presence of grace in events and feelings, affirming the presence of God at the heart of life, sharing a search for light through a dark passage, guiding the formation of a self-understanding that is biblically spiritual instead of merely psychological or sociological.”  He goes to add that spiritual direction is a “space to explore the everyday ordinariness for the presence of God and workings of grace,’ precisely at those times when ‘nothing seems to be happening.”

Spiritual direction is “help given by one Christian to another which enables that person to pay attention to God’s personal communication to him or her, to respond to this personally communicating God, to grow in intimacy with this God, and to live out the consequences of the relationship.” from William A. Barry and William J. Connolly’s The Practice of Spiritual Direction

Angela Jones, the author of Quest for Spiritual Community, says that “spiritual direction offers a way to attend to God’s presence in one’s life in the context of a trusted relationship. [It] “is not about what we do, but about who we are.”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Spiritual direction is the practice of being with people as they attempt to deepen their relationship with the divine, or to learn and grow in their own personal spirituality. The person seeking direction shares stories of his or her encounters of the divine, or how he or she is experiencing spiritual issues. The director listens and asks questions to assist the directee in his or her process of reflection and spiritual growth. Spiritual direction develops a deeper relationship with the spiritual aspect of being human. It is not psychotherapy, counseling, or financial planning.

Within Christianity, spiritual direction has its roots in the Early Christianity. The gospels describe Jesus serving as a mentor to his disciples. Additionally, Acts of the Apostles Chapter 9 describes Ananias helping Paul of Tarsus to grow in his newfound experience of Christianity. Likewise, several of the Pauline epistles describe Paul mentoring both Timothy and Titus among others. Tradition tells that John the Evangelist tutored Polycarp, the second-century bishop of Smyrna.

What Spiritual Direction Is Not

As mentioned about, spiritual direction is not counseling or therapy. The focus of spiritual direction is to pay attention to and nurture a relationship with God. Those with complex emotional problems or dilemmas may need the assistance of others, such as a therapist or twelve-step group.

Neither does spiritual direction offer quick solutions. A spiritual director cannot answer or solve all spiritual dilemmas, quandaries, and questions. No one can do another’s spiritual “work.” The director is just as much a seeker as the directee.  He or she is definitely not someone who has “arrived.”

The Benefits of Spiritual Direction

Spiritual direction is a two-way street between the director and directee, and as such, it can benefit both by helping them:

  • Mature in their faith, intimacy, and obedience to God.
  • Gain experiences that nurture trust in God’s loving and on-going activity in their lives.
  • Discover the richness of one’s own spiritual tradition, as well as the gifts and blessings of other traditions.
  • Learn about and engage in spiritual practices and disciplines revealing God’s grace.
  • Develop ways of being with God and others in discernment that is informed by scripture, tradition, reason, and personal experience.

Will a Spiritual Director Tell Me What to Do?

In a word:  no. This is where the title of “Spiritual Director” can be misleading.  It may be better to refer to one who offers spiritual direction as a guide or friend or fellow sojourner.  A director’s job is not to control or to tell another what to do or how to be spiritual. Rather, he or she walks alongside you in your own  journey of faith. aids you discerning the presence and movement of God’s Spirit in your life, and assists you in following that movement.

What Happens in a Session?

Normally, each session is a 45-minute face-to-face meeting or phone call. In preparation for each session, I may ask that you take time to reflect on your experiences and feelings since our last time together.  You may want to write some of these reflections in a journal or even send me an email of your observations.  Our sessions will begin with a time of quiet centring, followed by a time for you to share whatever seems important to you. There will be conversation with and perhaps some questions from me as I seek to more understand or clarify what you sharing. Our time together will end with prayer.

How Often Are Sessions Scheduled?

That depends upon you and your needs.  Biweekly or monthly meetings are common patterns, although more frequent meetings can scheduled when needed.

What Is the Cost?

I use a sliding scale for fees, which can range from $20 to $50 a session.  However, I will not turn away someone who is seeking spiritual direction due to a lack of funds. We will speak before our first meeting to determine an appropriate fee.

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