Spiritual Direction is a contemplative practice. By contemplative I mean it values contemplation, which is a form of quiet resting in God’s embrace with no need for words or particular actions. It is what the Psalmist meant when writing, “Be still and know I am God.” The late Walter J. Burghardt, Jesuit theologian and spiritual writer, defined contemplation as, “a long, loving look at the real.” Once you get to what is real in your life, then you are at a place where God is actively inviting you to a closer relationship through awareness, prayer, discernment and action.
Most of us are drawn to one facet of the spiritual life. If you are an introvert, you may prefer stillness and silent prayer. Extroverts may be more keen on talking over their options and taking decisive action for God. The reality is, we need all of the above.Spiritual direction helps us take that “long, loving look at the real” from angles we may have been neglecting. In fact, the stillness angle is probably the most neglected today. Unless we are really careful, our lives tend toward the hectic. Our culture is so bombarded with persuasive messages about how to live “the good life” that we can easily lose sight of what is real and lasting.
Spiritual directors exist to remind us to connect with our inner stillness and wait for the gentle prompting or insight from God. Spiritual direction is a contemplative practice that helps us recover that all important quest for meaning, love and our true identity.
In our next session, “Who comes to spiritual direction?”
For more about spiritual direction as I practice it, check out my website. If you have questions or comments about the content of Spiritual Direction 101, please let me hear from you in the reply section below.