What is Spiritual Direction?

Dear Christ Church,

God is alive and active in your life right now, and mine too. I believe that’s true, but I need help identifying Him.

Sometimes God’s presence is elusive, fleeting, or difficult to identify in the crowded room of my consciousness. I need help, which is why I have a Spiritual Director. That’s what they do. Though sharing some principles of the modern counseling movement, spiritual direction predates it by centuries, and it’s not quite right to call spiritual direction “mentoring” or “disciple-making” either. A Spiritual Director is a companion who is trained to listen deeply to your life, and help you to listen to your life, and identify the movements and presence of the living God.

Author and Spiritual Director Susan Philips describes her work like this: “I spend many quiet hours listening to people – to what they say and don’t say, to inflections, silences, laughter, weeping, aspirations, sorrows, joy and longing. I listen for prayer. Some of prayer’s manifestations in us were expressed by seventeenth-century poet George Herbert as ‘God’s breath’ in us, ‘the soul in paraphrase,’ the ‘heart in pilgrimage,’ ‘a kind of tune,’ and ‘Heaven in ordinary.’ I have witnessed such prayers in my office. My listening is different from that of many professional listeners, in that I listen for how the holy penetrates lives. I am there to help people discover the ways their lives are imbued with spirituality. This is spiritual direction.”

Two Ways to Be Blessed by the Ministry of Spiritual Directors: Spiritual Direction is a professionally trained form of ministry, in which they are available for fee/donation-based meetings with individuals, sometimes in group direction settings, and in the context of larger guided gatherings and retreats. Here are three paths you can take right now, with a spiritual director as guide, to notice the activity of God in your life. First, browse the Lumen Center for Mission and Spirituality or this diocesan list of Spiritual Directors and set up an interview/introductory session to explore a longer term relationship. Second, join us tomorrow for our Advent Parish Quiet Day, a Spiritual Director-led morning of guided encounter with God. It’s not too late to register! This will be a beautiful oasis in the desert of a crazy, commercialized, culturally co-opted Christmas season. Lastly, email Amy McLaughlin, a Spiritual Director here at Christ Church, to explore participation in group spiritual direction in 2024.

Peace on Earth,

PS  If you haven’t had a chance to read the recent letter from the Vestry and me, you can check that out here.

Scroll to Top