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.