I am currently involved in a three year “Art of Spiritual Direction” program with the Sisters of St. Joseph in Orange in connection with Loyola Marymount University. After completing my second year, I am about to begin my internship and will soon be meeting with directees. As I embark upon this active segment of the process, I am working on composing a brief explanation of what spiritual direction is, as many people (especially in the Evangelical realm) are not familiar with the term.
In conducting spiritual direction, I will be referred to as a “director,” but that is not an accurate description of what this ministry entails. The true Director in the relationship is God. The spiritual director acts more as a clarifying companion, accompanying another on their life journey as they seek the voice of the Lord. Thus, “Spiritual Companion” is probably a better term to describe the role of a director. Jesus is THE Director.
PROCESS OF SPIRITUAL DIRECTION
The sacred task of the spiritual director is to help directees orient to the voice and movement of the Spirit in their lives. The director engages in holy listening with the goal of attending to the relationship between the directee and God. The challenge is to stay out of the way so that the Holy Spirit may provide guidance and direction. Therefore, the director’s questions and comments are typically minimal, with the purpose of such interventions being to reflect (not interpret) and clarify what is being brought out by the directee. Sessions often focus on the prayer life of the directee, discernment about life circumstances and relationships, and spiritual growth and awareness. Spiritual direction is not psychotherapy or counseling, and the director takes a much less active approach than does a therapist or counselor; however, many of the same healing aspects and ethical issues apply across therapy, counseling, and spiritual direction practices.
BLESSINGS FOR ALL
Ideally, presence and mindfulness are cultivated through spiritual direction, as the directee opens to receiving God’s love and many blessings in the course of ordinary life. Spiritual directors also grow in presence and awareness as they attend to the movement of the Spirit in the lives of those they companion. Directors commit to continuing their own spiritual direction and to continuing supervision while they are meeting with directees. Through spiritual direction, we serve one another and develop a shared awakening to Christ’s love, grace, and healing.