What is Spiritual Direction?
Think of it as keeping your ears open, in ways and in places and in times of day when before you wouldn’t have thought to listen. Think of it as tuning yourself to recognize God’s voice, as becoming someone who regularly, intentionally hears.
Think of it as a tool for becoming aware of God within the normalcy of life—of injecting the sacred into elements that could otherwise seem just every day. Spiritual direction helps give clarity and direction to one’s life---it helps remove the lines that seem to blur those things we call spiritual with what is secular so we can live as a whole person.
It is typically offered as a one-to-one or group experience in private sessions with spiritual mentors who have most likely completed extensive formation for the ministry of spiritual direction – it is up to you to choose a spiritual director who has the training, formation and experience that suits your needs. Spiritual direction includes your deity or higher power as a third partner in the process.
What Do Others Have to Say?
Spiritual direction is the process of accompanying people on a spiritual journey. Spiritual direction exists in a context that emphasizes growing closer to God (or the sacred, the holy or a higher power). Spiritual direction explores a deeper relationship with the spiritual aspect of being human. Simply put, spiritual direction is helping people tell their sacred stories every day. Spiritual direction has emerged in many contexts using language specific to particular cultural and spiritual traditions. Describing spiritual direction requires putting words to a process of fostering a transcendent experience that lies beyond all names and yet the experience longs to be articulated and made concrete in everyday living. It is easier to describe what spiritual direction does than what spiritual direction is. Spiritual direction helps us learn how to live in peace, with compassion, promoting justice, as humble servants of that which lies beyond all names.
-Liz Budd Ellmann, MDiv, Executive Director, Spiritual Directors International
Spiritual direction is the contemplative practice of helping another person or group to awaken to the mystery called God in all of life, and to respond to that discovery in a growing relationship of freedom and commitment.
-James Keegan, SJ, Roman Catholic, USA, on behalf of the 2005 Coordinating Council of Spiritual Directors International
Spiritual direction is a time-honored term for a conversation, ordinarily between two persons, in which one person consults another, more spiritually experienced person about the ways in which God may be touching her or his life, directly or indirectly. In our postmodern age, many people dislike the term "spiritual direction" because it sounds like one person giving directions, or orders, to another. They prefer "spiritual companionship," "tending the holy," or some other nomenclature. What we call it doesn't make any real difference. The reality remains conversations about life in the light of faith. There was much to talk about, to sort out in the light of faith in those days when confusion in the Church became a daily reality. Although spiritual direction has had a burst of new life, it is really quite ancient. Across both the Hebrew and the Christian Scriptures, we find people seeking spiritual counsel. The Queen of Sheba sought out the Wisdom of Solomon. Jesus gave us examples in his conversations with Nicodemus, with the woman at the well, in the ongoing formation of Peter and the other disciples. In the early church, people flocked to hermits in the desert for spiritual counsel. Across the centuries we find striking examples in some Irish monks, in some German Benedictine nuns, in Charles de Foucault, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Francis de Sales, and others. Today, spiritual directors come from many traditions…
-Marian Cowan, CSJ
What Spiritual Direction Is Not
- Spiritual direction is not counseling.
- Spiritual direction is not therapy.
- Spiritual direction is not financial advice.You may discuss financial issues in spiritual direction but a spiritual director does not offer financial advice and any decisions and actions you may take in that regard are done without advice or recommendation, and are purely your responsibility.
- While it may be appropriate at times to discuss personal and relational struggles in the context of spiritual direction, a spiritual director is not a psychotherapist, nor does the spiritual director provide such services.
-Spiritual Directors International
How Do I Find a Spiritual Director?
- Your Over the Edge guides have extensive training and background as spiritual directors, both in individual, one-on-one, and in group settings.
- Contact us today if you would like to set up an initial meeting to explore whether spiritual direction is something that could help you go deeper in your life’s journey by tending the Holy.
- You can also visit Spiritual Directors International to learn more about spiritual direction and find other trained spiritual directors in your area.