In a nutshell, spiritual direction creates space for spiritual dialogue.
As you allow time to pay attention to God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you discover there is more to the conversation about your heart than you knew was bubbling just below the surface. Together, a spiritual director and a directee meet in the presence of Holy Spirit, to look, listen, discern, and move closer to the heart of the Holy Trinity. Within this sacred relationship, the spiritual director encourages the directee to delve deeper, to develop an intimate life with Christ. Just as a personal trainer at a gym helps a person’s body stretch and grow, a spiritual director helps a person’s heart and soul stretch and grow in areas of life with God, with self, and with others.
This is not a counseling, discipling, coaching, or mentoring relationship, though all of those are good and holy relationships meant for healing and transformation. Rather, a spiritual director comes alongside to pray with and for you as you journey with Jesus. An atmosphere of attentiveness and examination perfume the time together.
Like a driver changing lanes, blind spots exist. A spiritual director’s role, like side and rear mirrors, GPS, maps, and traffic signals, enables you to notice and traverse the terrain of your own heart and soul. Perhaps a better name for a spiritual director would be a heart listener, one who comes alongside so your heart and the heart of God can more deeply connect. A good listener asks attentive open-ended questions, notices what brings joy or resistance, and delights in your growth as you find out more about God and yourself.
But, you ask, what really happens in this monthly one-hour meeting between directee and director?
Imagine an hour devoted to your soul’s care, where you can bring up anything you desire with no expectations or agenda for the hour. Imagine a quiet beginning with prayer, silence, and/or Scripture. You inhale deeply, then sigh about all that has transpired below the surface.
All month you’ve noticed brilliant places of great joy or subtle places of great unsettledness. You recall caches of treasure or trash encountered repeatedly. You place them on the banquet table that is set for your soul, where you can simply ponder what God is up to in and for you.
With the gentle but firm care of your director, you examine the treasure or the rubble, looking for how it intrigues or repels you. You notice obvious planes on the surface of the objects that draw your attention; your director probes with questions to enable you to notice what is beneath the obvious. You might encounter resistance and are surprised. You might discover delight and are also surprised.
What is the question beneath the question, the desire beneath the desire, the frustration beneath the frustration? Where is your breath shallow and your tension canyon-deep? How are you responding to what is on the path of your days?
How are these encounters impacting your connectedness with your own heart, with God’s own heart? Where are you in denial? Delight? Disappointment? Doubt? Where are you dulled and where are you diamond-sharp? Where do you dance and where do you dawdle?
You pour out more than you knew you were holding in and you are amazed at the layers being unveiled. Before you know it, the hour is up. You have an entire new set of thoughts to mull over, new scriptures to go sit with, and a heart that is reshaped by the time devoted to its care. You note a few things you want to sit with over the next month and marvel at how God has shown up for you.
Your spiritual director closes with prayer and you leave refreshed, rejuvenated, and full of yet more questions and wonders. You look forward to more dialogue with God about the Story of His heart for your heart.
What questions do you have about spiritual direction? Have you ever worked with a spiritual director? Did the tradition you grew up in have spiritual directors?
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