“There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.”
Spiritual direction is the art of holy listening, space for a directee to be unconditionally and nonjudgmentally seen, heard, and cared for. Both director and directee listen for God’s presence in daily life, in the thoughts, feelings, experiences, and reflections of the one seeking direction. Direction is highly individualized, since the concept of God varies greatly from person to person, and is dependent on one’s experiences of life. Exploring one’s concept of God and learning to engage God directly, whatever that may look like, is a fundamental aim. Sessions may or not be productive towards this end, spiritual companionship often being an end in itself.
Spiritual direction looks like therapy, as sessions are typically once a month for one hour. However, it differs from therapy in that it does not seek to solve any particular problem or concern. Anyone can be a good fit for direction at any time. One never moves beyond the need for direction, as the process of self-discovery is ongoing. Similar to therapy, though, the fit between director and directee can determine whether or not the relationship is successful.
I am currently accepting directees to meet virtually via Zoom. Coming out of the pandemic, I expect to accept a limited number of in-person directees near Hershey, PA starting in the fall of 2022. I have a job that pays my bills, so I only charge $30 a session, and all proceeds are donated to L’Arche USA for the provision of homes and care for adults with developmental disabilities. The first introductory session is always free, as a space to ask questions and discern if moving forward with direction is a good fit.
Why work with a spiritual director or spiritual companion?
The following is taken from Spiritual Director’s International, an excellent resource:
- They offer deep listening which helps people find and follow their own spiritual path
- They ask insightful, open-ended questions that help people connect with their authentic selves
- They allow space for stillness and silence (contemplation) to help people become aware of what is deep within them
- They build trust and openness by being authentic, kind and open themselves
- They do not proselytize, nor seek to influence or convince, but instead walk alongside people as they make their individual and unique spiritual journeys
- They honor the free will and discernment of each human being, especially in spiritual matters
- They offer a mirror to those they companion so they may see themselves as whole beings if they so choose
- They help the people they accompany create a stronger relationship with self and others and God, or however they refer to the ground of all being.
- They hold themselves accountable to a supervisor, and community.
- They follow universal ethical principles, with the most important one being to “do no harm.”
What does a direction session look like?
Sessions are typically once a month for one hour. I may bring a prayer or a poem to open the time, and invite us into a moment of silence to gather ourselves and begin to posture ourselves to listen. The directee may conclude the silence at any time and speak whatever they wish, whatever comes to the fore of their mind. We will listen for the imprint of God in the words we speak, and the discussion will follow from there. I will give us time at the end of the session to reflect on anything we may have missed, and close with a blessing.
How is spiritual direction different from friendship?
The direction relationship is not reciprocal. The space focuses on the directee, not the director, and the director is trained in specific ways. If the directee wishes to speak the entire hour, or sit in silence for the entire hour, these are all welcome, regardless of the preferences or agenda of the director. It is the directee’s time and theirs alone, where they will be unconditionally heard and accepted. Often, this space and associated self-grounding allows directees to maintain healthier reciprocal relationships outside of direction.
What if I don’t believe in God?
Every person’s idea of God comes from somewhere inside them. Often, one’s community and life experiences are what determines how they engage God, for better or for worse. God-language itself is very loaded, and for the purposes of direction is not required. Direction can be seen as a type of self-discovery, or finding one’s own deepest sense of meaning, purpose, and identity. A commitment to this kind of spiritual discovery is essential, but otherwise, all are welcome and can benefit from direction.
Ask more questions, or sign up for a free consultation!