Wednesday, September 8, 2010

2010.09.08 What Is Spiritual Direction?

SO WHAT IS SPIRITUAL DIRECTION?

Spiritual Direction is a conversational process in which a gifted and trained mentor accompanies someone as s/he discern how God is acting in her/his life just now.

Unlike therapy, in which you talk about your life problems and how to solve them, you talk to a Spiritual Director about what is going on in your prayer life

WHAT IF I DON'T OR CAN'T PRAY?

A Spiritual Director will help you figure out the best spiritual practice for yourself, a means by which you stop racing around and start to listen to yourself and to the divine whisper in yourself and the world around you.

BUT I'M CATHOLIC.

Do you think God, by whatever name you choose to call that presence you think or hope is divine, is Catholic? Or Jewish? Or, of all things, Episcopalian?

Spiritual Directors are called, gifted— AND trained— to transcend, in both practice and attitude, denominational boundaries. They don’t care if you’re Catholic or pagan if you want to connect more deeply with your own soul and with Love, one of God’s many names. They will discern with you whether you are confusing Love’s voice with your own, your mother’s or, heaven forfend, the Church’s.

BUT.............

Fear not. If a director does not know enough about your particular religious concerns beyond their impact on your soul then they will be honest and refer you to someone of your brand.

WHAT IF I'M AN ATHEIST—SORT OF?

All you need is an open heart. God doesn’t believe in God. Do you think God believes in most of the pathetic and ferocious, patriarchal and exclusively masculine images humanity has projected onto the name of Love over the years?

DO I HAVE TO PRAY TO JESUS OR LOVE HIM?

Come on! Of course you might want to if you’re Christian. (Jesus can be quite nice.) If so a director will help you get to know Jesus.

I'M SCARE. I DON'T LIKE SOMEONE DIRECTING ME, CONTROLLING ME.

The director in this process is Spirit. Your director won’t direct just listen, suggest, pray only if you want, and laugh a lot with you. This is a WITH thing. Fear not, beloved.

Besides, you can interview a spiritual director ask any and all question and if you don’t like her/his manner, it’s not a sync then thanks and move on. It’s nice to do this with dignity and wordless flight.

WHERE DOES THAT NAME COME FROM THEN?

Jesuits. And........

It has ancient roots even biblical. Jesus mentored his disciples as did Moses, Paul and Mohammed. Spiritual teachers, tutors for initiates and inquirers have always been part of religious life. They listen carefully, provide wisdom, encourage deep prayer and retreat, and acknowledged always that the true director of the process was divine.

Today’s spiritual directors are called to their practice as professional ministry. They are naturally gifted listeners and discerners. They receive training and credentials to hone their gifts and qualify them to set up a practice and charge fees, usually on a sliding scale.

Directors are trained to suggest therapy or other paths to accompany direction if it seems that a person needs more that they are qualified to provide. So don’t go thinking you can go see a dear sweet spiritual director and avoid the confrontations of good therapy.

Spiritual Direction is about tuning into the direction the Spirit is moving in your life, remembering that your prayer life and your daily life do not reside on different planets!

HOW DO I FIND ONE OF THESE SPIRITUAL DIRECTORS?

Pray.

Then act: Go to the Seek and Find Guide on the website for Spiritual Directors International.

And see my next blog post: What is SDI?

2 comments:

Ardis said...

Lyn,
This is a good description of spiritual direction. It may be helpful to add some questions to use in the process of discerning spiritual qualifications (vs professional). Sometimes people go through all the right hoops for certification professionally without having developed a solid spiritual practice or done their own inner work. Give me a fisherman or woman who walks with Jesus (or Buddha or Abraham) daily anytime over someone who has taken the courses and passed the exam but has left their own practice on the altar of a titled position.

Lyn G. Brakeman said...

Excellent comment Ardis and thank you. All who read comments please take heed. Lyn