When seeking a spiritual director, people sometimes say they want one who will “call them on their bad behavior.” What they mean is they have destructive habits or believe that they are deceiving themselves and want someone to challenge them around those issues. Spiritual directors rarely do anything of that nature. At least most of us don’t. Why is that? If you ask for it, why won’t we provide it? We Are Not Your Mother And you are not a… Read more

Occasionally I hear someone say they want a spiritual director who will “hold their feet to the fire,” meaning one who will challenge them, push them or hold them accountable to some self-determined standard. While the metaphor of “feet to fire” seems a little harsh (I prefer non-violent metaphors), I do understand that the covenant relationship between spiritual director and client involves personal responsibility – a whole lot on the part of the director but also some on the part… Read more

Spiritual direction is not a cure for anxiety but anxiety frequently comes up as people share their life stories with a spiritual director. In those moments of anxiety—even panic—the response of a caring, compassionate and non-anxious spiritual director can make a difference. The Mayo Clinic describes anxiety as “intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations.” Anxiety be mildly annoying or it can seriously impair a person. Much has been written lately about how the current decade is… Read more

I’m always interested in how to change the world—especially how to assist people who are consumed with hate to convert to a spirituality based in love. And since hate-filled people rarely go to spiritual direction, and all my friends are of the loving variety, it took the resurfacing of a 2015 article in the New Yorker to show me the way. If you have not already seen this piece, I highly recommend you take a break today from the contentious… Read more

I’m going to get political here because, like a Cecily Strong character on Saturday Night Live said recently, “I want one day without a CNN alert that scares the hell out of me, all right?” Yes, I’m afraid and it’s hard to keep the faith. Most of the people I know are afraid and many of those I work with in spiritual direction are afraid or at least bothered by threatened cuts to Medicaid, health insurance benefits, disability insurance; a… Read more

Confession time. I’m addicted to refreshing my twitter feed. And the result is I’m on media overload, a spiritual condition many find themselves in these days. Media overload is when your eyes glaze over because you’ve been reading or watching too much news. It’s when you can’t stand to be away from your smartphone in case something new happened in the last five minutes. I felt it after 9/11, during the 2008 and 2016 presidential elections and I feel it… Read more

The urge to speak with God face to face and understand great mysteries is a thread running through HBO’s third season of the dystopian religious drama “The Leftovers.” Last week, in episode 5 of the show’s final season, Episcopal priest Matt Jamison (played by Christopher Eccleston) finally gets a chance to unburden himself to God. Although the man in the red hat who calls himself God, David Burton, is pretty obviously not God (Matt saw him toss a man overboard on… Read more

Spiritual direction is a clergyperson’s best friend. Deep listening and discernment enhance the life of a congregation and its leaders, so if you are clergy, I hope you consider how this spiritual practice can be used or expanded in your work. If you are a layperson, please pass this good news along to the clergy in your life.   What do clergy need to know about spiritual direction? You need it in your life! Spiritual direction is a contemplative, confidential… Read more

A young minister colleague came to me last week and said, “we really need spiritual direction for the resistance–time to reflect on what we are so passionate about.” The resistance of which my friend speaks is made up of humanists, interfaith religious leaders and progressive Christians all fighting the creeping authoritarianism of the Trump administration. And it is deeper than politics, according to the General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, Dr. John Dorhauer, who recently wrote… Read more

The practice of spiritual direction rescued me. I never felt I fit into the conservative church I grew up in, so I set out as a young adult to find a spiritual path that focused on God’s unconditional love of creation. The journey took considerable time. My new path had little to do with the institutional church. I didn’t discover it in worship, bible studies, social justice activism or through the adoption of a new theology. I found it by… Read more

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