From time to time, I will have guests post here on the subject of “what spiritual direction means to me.” Today’s post is from Karen Richter, the Director of Spiritual Formation at Shadow Rock UCC in Phoenix.
Have you ever had a new experience that somehow seems familiar? I have experienced 3 different kinds of being with people that elicit in me the same emotional and spiritual response.
- Savasana at the end of yoga. If you’re even a ‘once in a blue moon’ yogi, you know what I’m talking about. The lovely floaty feeling of Corpse Post at the end of a yoga session is a wonderful thing. The overall experience of yoga is body acceptance, being friendly with What-Is-Real, and an inner strength.
- Being sung to by a Threshold Choir. This is probably a less common experience. I’m fortunate that our church has a Threshold Choir… they are a women’s group that sings a capella to very sick people or individuals near death. The songs are slow and harmonic. A couple of years ago, our Threshold Choir director asked me to be the demonstration person at a prayer service. Lying in a comfy reclining chair, surrounded by singing friends and strangers, I had the same floaty graceful feel as Savasana.
- Silence in the midst of spiritual direction. My Spiritual Director is awesome. If we lived closer, I would want to just hang out with her, but she’s far away and we meet on a video call. Sometimes I’m chattering about during a session, filling our time together with the sound of my voice, and my Director wisely asks if it would be a good time for a period of silence. In the silence, I can feel her warm regard for me, her ongoing supportive prayers for my journey, and the safety of a healthy, strong relationship between Director and directee.
When I first noticed the similarities among these three experiences, I was surprised and delighted. The delight has remained, but as I thought more about it, I realized what ties together yoga meditation, Threshold Choir, and Spiritual Direction. How could I be surprised?
- All three experiences allow our egos to rest. I have moved into a season of making friends with my ego, but if I can demote my ego from Managing Director to occasional consultant, peace comes more easily into my life.
- All three experiences are about acceptance and grace. I am a big fan of grace, which is not about the ungraceful way I get up from my yoga mat but is instead concerned with my approach to my own life, the Universe, and the reality all around me. If I can look unflinchingly at reality and somehow some way see goodness, that is grace.
- All three experiences are spacious… a time during which nothing is required of us, nothing about us is being judged and found inadequate, and no expectations or roles are thrust upon us. They are Being times, rather than Doing times. And this is a gift.
In my mind, all three experiences are also open to everyone. If you need this kind of listening graceful presence in your life, click around Spiritual Direction 101. Pray, if this is your spiritual practice, or spend time in quiet reflection around the question of spiritual direction. Maybe 2018 will be a time of adding Spiritual Direction to your life.
Be well and be at peace!
Karen Richter serves a United Church of Christ congregation in North Phoenix as Director of Spiritual Formation. She is a teacher, spiritual director, and retreat leader and loves sharing her passions for nonviolent communication and peaceful parenting.