What is spiritual direction? Is spiritual direction for me?
“We are travelers on a journey, fellow pilgrims on the road. We are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.” These words by Richard Gillard from the hymn We are Travelers on a Journey would make a good anthem for those of us who engage in the art of spiritual direction.
"We are certainly a generation of people on the move - constantly wandering but never quite arriving. "
For some, this concept of journeying with a spiritual guide or friend may be a familiar practice. For others, the term spiritual direction or spiritual director may be a new and interesting idea to explore.
Often, we refer to life as a journey. We are certainly a generation of people on the move - constantly wandering but never quite arriving. As Christians, we seek to follow the path of Christ, but if we are honest, we often grow weary and homesick. Along the journey, we will need the care of a companion who can offer hospitality that includes restoration and comfort.
The goal of a spiritual director is to offer holy hospitality. While the Holy Spirit is the ultimate director, the task of the spiritual director is to help the individual reflect on their journey with the Divine, to recognize and claim their identity in Christ, and to discern the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Spiritual direction is not...
Spiritual direction is not therapy. It is not about fixing or eliminating pain. It is about knowing where God is in the pain. Spiritual direction is not coaching one to reach their goals, but it is helping the seeker uncover what the soul desires. Spiritual direction is not mentoring but accompanying someone in listening to the voice of God. Spiritual direction is not teaching. Teaching means to impart wisdom, and spiritual direction is about uncovering the wisdom that lies within.
Spiritual direction is...
If those are all the things that spiritual direction is not, what IS spiritual direction? Spiritual direction is holy listening. That listening begins with stillness and the understanding that God is present and eager to be discovered. Spiritual direction is exploring practices such as meditation, centering prayer, journaling, and art to discover the seeker’s best way of experiencing Divine presence. Spiritual direction is companionship where the spiritual director holds space for the seeker. This is a space that is safe, loving, and affirming.
As a spiritual director, my goal is to offer compassionate presence and holy space where seekers can explore and discover how God is at work in their lives through ordinary, everyday events. I hope that as seekers journey forward they will learn to connect to their own souls and discover the very essence of Christ living and breathing within them. Spiritual direction sessions offer the seeker opportunity to reflect on his or her relationship to God, to learn contemplative practices such as centering prayer, to reflect upon scripture and spiritual writings, and to employ the arts as a means of expressing emotions.
“I will hold the Christ-light for you in the nighttime of your fear; I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.” (Richard Gillard, We Are Travelers on a Journey)
Ruth DuCharme, of Macon, Georgia, has served for over thirty years as a minister in the area of faith formation. Her new ministry is providing one-on-one and group spiritual direction, retreat leadership, and pulpit supply.