Spiritual Direction aims to make clear the voice of God so one can become more responsive to God in our lives. The Holy Spirit operates in the ordinary experience of our everyday life and ironically we miss most of these epiphanies precisely because they are so ordinary. It is by taking our experience into prayer and spiritual direction that affords us the opportunity of making these encounters more manifest.
You probably have a doctor, a dentist, a banker, a lawyer, a tax accountant, a plumber, and perhaps a personal trainer. From this perspective, it seems foolish not to have a spiritual director.
It is often misunderstood as one person getting advice from a spiritual director. In practice, God is the director who guides the seeker while the certified spiritual director acts as a wise companion journeying with you.
In spiritual direction, we invite you to listen, notice and reflect upon God’s invitation to a deeper relationship.
The personal relationship developed with your spiritual director builds upon mutual honesty, trust, respect and openness with one’s self, others and God.
Spiritual direction is not counseling, therapy, problem solving nor instruction.
Spiritual direction recognizes and responds to god’s communication in the ordinary course of one’s life.
Spiritual direction tells the story of your soul told to a graced companion.
We tend to compartmentalize our lives: there’s my work life, my home life, and there’s ‘my time.’ The truth is everything is your spiritual life. It’s the one life which we have all been given and will have for all eternity.
For many, spiritual direction is the first time they’ve talked about their relationship with God. No part of your life is off-limits. The principal issue in spiritual direction details your experience of god in your life. The director listens and observes your faith story – your core religious experiences. This involves being attentive to what is happening in daily life; family, work, friends, and prayer.
We might talk about your prayer life and your vocation. We want to talk about what you struggle with, your temptations. What do you dream about? How do you experience God? What gets you down? Whatever is going on in your life is where God is operating. That is where God is closest to you. That is where God is leading you to make choices as to who you are becoming. One critical question we will ask continually is “where is God in all this?”
Spiritual direction aims to make clear the voice of God so one can become more responsive to God in our lives. The Holy Spirit operates in the ordinary experience of our everyday life and ironically we miss most of these epiphanies precisely because they are so ordinary. It is by taking our experience into prayer and spiritual direction that affords us the opportunity of making these encounters more manifest.
All of Daylesford’s spiritual directors are graduates of accredited centers of training. We offer the service as a ministry and as a professional service. It is customary for the directee to offer some remuneration. We suggest a sliding scale of $40 to $60 a session which is shared between the director and the spirituality center. It is, however, our desire that no one be turned away for financial reasons.
Most education requires a new vocabulary. You will be discussing things that you may not have put into words before. Things can be awkward at first. That’s OK. It will come to you. As you speak about your journey you will begin to see the hidden connections between your everyday events and your prayer life. You will come to see that God is active and alive in your world.
Most will claim they are able to look back and feel that they are growing in peace; that they are more hopeful and – most of all – that they are growing in love. Barriers come down. One becomes more forgiving and more accepting. You will be less anxious and more trusting. You will see progress in your life and feel closer to God. You will be more configured to God. The Mystery of God expands.
Left to our own devices we can get tangled up in our own minds going over the same ground again and again. That’s not development; that’s not growth. Most people find clarity, balance, spiritual and psychological relief in having a sounding board for what is going on in their lives.
A Spiritual Director is not going to tell you what to do or how to do it. Good Spiritual Directors listen more than they talk. They are neither catechists nor theologians. Typical terms ascribed to Spiritual Directors are shepherds, midwives, gardeners or advocates. You want to see your director as your spiritual companion and occasionally your guide. They will mostly listen. They will help you sort. They will give you feedback. They will offer other resources. They will not tell you what to do.
Your Spiritual Director will care about you. They will not judge you. They will not discuss anything you say to them nor disclose your identity. You are safe and can discuss anything you desire. You are also free to ask them whatever you like.
Good candidates want to nourish the desire to accomplish God’s will. You want to be open to being taught and influenced by God. You want to be willing to trust and to develop the ability to distinguish God’s voice from others. You will want to establish a regular pattern of prayer, reflection and self-examination. Directees are good seekers and good questioners.
- The desire to keep God as a top priority in one’s life
- The willingness to forgo whatever might impede one’s relationship with God
- A willingness to make time for regular periods of prayer
- Remember, everyone wants transformation but most of us don’t want to be asked to change
Commit to 2 or 3 sessions and move ahead. You will know by then if the practice and spiritual director are a good fit. Most directees meet with their director once a month. Sometimes one might desire to meet more frequently in the beginning to move things along. A session lasts 45-50 minutes.
There is no homework other than a commitment to prayer. Excessive planning prior to a session is not proper for spiritual direction. Strict confidentiality is observed. Unless required to do so by law or by court order (for example an incidence of child abuse or if the directee is seriously considering harming him/herself, or another individual), whatever you speak about would not be spoken about outside of the room. Even the fact that you are a directee is held in confidence.
Group Spiritual Companionship is a practice where people gather monthly to assist in one another’s growing awareness that God is actively operating in their lives. Often, we suffer from self-sufficiency- the belief that we are doing just fine. But as we all know that generally is not the case. Spiritual masters say that if your life does not contain trials, you’re not growing.
As individual members share, the group assists them in discernment by helping each other see God’s active presence through gentle questioning, insights and comments. One becomes aware of God’s ways in one’s own life by hearing how God is operating in the lives of other group members.
To prepare oneself, to commit oneself to Group Spiritual Companionship, participants must be willing to share their personal faith journey and respect the journey of others. They must be willing to enter a relationship with others that is built on trust, prayerful listening and compassionate responses. New members are encouraged to attend three meeting before commitment.
Groups form dynamically – one might be invited to join an existing group of members or to form the membership of a new group. The dynamics operate best with four or five group members where diversity and anonymity enriches the collective wisdom.
The pattern of meetings is rhythmic; silence, sharing, silence, response, silence. Meetings are generally ninety minutes long and currently gather on Sunday mornings from 8:30 till 10:00 AM. Depending on the group’s conscience, some groups take the summer off due to vacation conflicts.
Sessions begin with silence. The leader will then invite someone to share a thought or feeling they are living. Everyone shares something initially. This is followed by silence/journaling.
Next, a member will share a difficulty or experience more deeply. Each member listens prayerfully avoiding advice. Group Spiritual Companionship is not therapy. Once completed, silence is observed allowing God to enter the group’s experience. Sharing, silence, response and silence is repeated until all members have been heard.
Finally, a gathering of graces comprises the final reflection on the time together. It is not a time to dissect or evaluate the time together but a quest for noticing how God has guided the group prayerfully.
Over a period of time, participants discover through hindsight and reflection subtle changes as a result of these gatherings. Edges soften; patience grows, there is an increase in confidence and trust among members and particularly with God. Love for God increases and love of others rises in importance.
In both forms all participants have a deeper sense of searching for God and desiring to know how God is present in the individual situation of one’s life. In both formats there is an understanding that one cannot do this work alone. There is a unique experience of honesty.