The first step in any spiritual journey is awareness–becoming open to a reality beyond yourself. Many people enter spiritual direction to become more aware of God’s presence in their life and in the world. They want their belief in a Higher Power to make that journey from head to heart. They want to feel the love of God so they can live in harmony with that love. Even if you seek spiritual direction for some other reason, a good director… Read more

Spiritual direction is not professional counseling. Even though there may seem to be some overlapping practices (such as active listening), there is a vast difference between therapy and spiritual direction. Spiritual direction is primarily a wellness practice. First and foremost, spiritual directors do not diagnose or treat disorders of any kind. For example, if a person is clearly suffering from depression, a good spiritual director will notice that, share their observation with the directee and refer the person to a… Read more

At its best, spiritual direction can help you become more aware of where God is active and moving in your life. It’s designed to help you savor and remember God’s goodness and discern how it is you are being invited to follow God into a broken and hurting world. Spiritual direction is also helpful for people moving through tough spiritual questions that arise when your image of God is malformed or arrested in time, or when someone is recovering from… Read more

All kinds of people come to spiritual direction–there is no one “type.” Directees are lay people and clergy. They come from all classes of society. They are male and female. Gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered and straight. Some are very religious and some fall into the “spiritual but not religious” category.  They are seekers and lifelong believers. They come from a variety of religious traditions. Although spiritual direction as discussed in this blog grew from Christianity, not all people who visit… Read more

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… Read more

Spiritual directors today are, in a sense, “field guides” along the walk, pointing out interesting highlights and asking you to think more deeply about certain questions. As a field guide, it is hoped that we will at least recognize the terrain. At times, we discover it with you. We don’t walk the walk for you, but we observe the walk with you aware that God is leading the way and is in relationship with you all the time. The field… Read more

The first spiritual directors were holy men and women who left their life in the city behind to lead a sparse and ascetic life in the deserts of Egypt. Amazingly, pilgrims from all over followed them to the desert asking them to speak a word of wisdom for them. Not many of us live in desert caves anymore. You’re more likely to find one of us in an air-conditioned home, church or private office with a couple of chairs, a… Read more

This ancient practice of spiritual direction—dating back to the 3rd century Desert Fathers and Mothers—seems rather new to some. That’s because before the 1950’s, about the only people receiving spiritual direction were Catholic priests, nuns and monks—and usually it was with elders from their communities.  Also, for Catholics there is a long history of spiritual direction being combined with the practice of confession, which limits who is able to offer spiritual direction. For much of the history of the practice,… Read more

Spiritual direction is an exploration of your spiritual path with a person trained in listening, deep reflection and discernment. Those are all carefully chosen, important words so let’s break it down. We explore with you. We don’t tell you what you need to know, do or have in order to be spiritual. It is essential that you feel the freedom that comes with exploration in spiritual direction. It is your path we are exploring. No one else’s. The time you… Read more

Spiritual direction must be one of the best kept secrets around. A lot of people still think it’s only for clergy or other religious professionals who are stressed out or in crisis. Far from it. First of all, I wish more clergy (stressed out or not) were in spiritual direction. They and their faith communities would be a lot healthier. But more importantly, I wish spiritual direction could be seen for the positive, life-affirming practice that it is—and that all… Read more

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