Wednesday 28 March 2018

Spiritual Direction

For centuries people have sought out companions with whom to walk their spiritual journey, whether it be in an ashram in India, a monastery in the desert or a retreat centre in the outback. We are all seekers, to varying degrees, and only so much searching can be done alone. Spiritual direction is the art of accompanying another in their journey, being attentive to the movement of God/Divine/Spirit in their midst.

It may help to begin with what spiritual direction is not. It is not counselling. Counselling seeks to assist a person with their relationships and their own behaviours towards other people. Spiritual direction is focussed upon the directee's relationship with God in whatever form that may take for them. Spiritual direction is not authoritarian. Although the role includes the word 'direction', it is not used in terms of giving advice or providing judgment. The role of the spiritual director is to help the directee to become aware of how God may be working in their life for themselves. And spiritual directors are not experts in spiritual life. Although a spiritual director must complete specific training to be recognised, they also recognise that the work of the Spirit is broader and more expansive than the knowledge we can possibly hold.

So what does a spiritual direction session look like? Generally, a session would last an hour and the director and directee would meet every 4-6 weeks. There is, of course, flexibility in this arrangement depending on the needs of the person. I like to begin my sessions by lighting a candle and holding a period of silence. We often race from appointment to appointment, so it is important to spend a few moments leaving the cares of the world aside and coming into a contemplative space. The directee is invited to begin sharing what is on their mind. The presenting topics can be diverse and sometimes surprising.

As a spiritual director, my role is not to fix the problem, but to help my directees find where God is in this part of the spiritual journey. This is done with careful listening, open questions and assisting to go deeper than just the surface issues.

This is the ministry to which I feel called to develop further. I trained in Spiritual Direction in 2011 and 2012. I am now involved in the training of new spiritual directors. It is a profession that is gaining recognition and understanding throughout the world and plays a vital role in the lives of many. If you would like to know more about spiritual direction, I will be available from May for face to face sessions in Margaret River, Busselton, Bunbury and Perth or via Zoom link up. I would also be available to run a brief introductory session for groups who would like to know more.

Monday 26 March 2018

Meeting the Mystics: Meeting Me

My first 'gig' after I finish my ministry placement in a little over a month now, is facilitating the Women's Weekend Away in Perth. This is an annual event that has been going for quite a few years now. Each year, the ladies invite a different facilitator to explore a theme throughout the weekend. I first led this retreat while still studying and it was a great time with a lovely mix of fun, laughter and reflection. Back then, we looked at the theme of creating space in our lives.

This year, I will be unpacking the theme 'Meeting the Mystics: Meeting Me'. I gave the committee a couple of themes to choose from and I am so excited they went with this one. Over the weekend, we will develop an understanding of mysticism that, I hope, removes the mystery and elitism of the term so that we can see where it is relevant for us today. We will meet some of the wonderful female mystics, including Julian of Norwich, Hildegaard of Bingen, Teresa of Avila and Therese of Lisieux. We will spend some time in quiet, some out in nature, some getting arty and some playing games. 

My hope is that the women who come along will find a safe space where they can share their own experiences of God and their own spiritual journey. So often, people do not share their profound experiences out of fear that it is not seen as credible or in line with the beliefs of our faith community. The mystics of the past were often on the fringes of the church, as they were not afraid to speak out. I am looking forward to hearing the women who come along and helping their stories to be valued and validated.

It is shaping up to be a great weekend and, best of all, someone else cooks for you! If you are in or around Perth and are free from May 25th to 27th, why not come along and join us? For more information or to register have a look at the form.