What Is Spiritual Direction?
"If God is anywhere, the greatest writers of the spiritual life have taught for centuries, God is in us, bringing us to life, drawing us incessantly on to that place where we become everything we can be. The soul, that place where the human meets the divine, lives to develop the God-life in us here and now, to be the light, whatever the darkness that surrounds us, to bring us to a sense of self that satisfies without subsuming everything else in its path"--Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB, Heart of Flesh, 89-90.
"We go to stable mentors for spiritual direction and counsel because their self honesty disarms us. Letting our guard down, we tell them what we are afraid to tell ourselves. Because they have found some freedom from both shame and self-rightousness, they reflect the truth of who we are back to us, helping us discern the image of God that is stamped on our souls beneath our masks and the mire of sin." Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture, p. 143.
Spiritual directors, drawing on modern and ancient resources as old as the Hebrew scriptures and the Desert Mothers and Fathers, nurture with directees that place where the human meets the divine: the soul.
As a spiritual director in the Christian tradition, I like the definition of spiritual direction provided by Barry and Connolly, The Practice of Spiritual Direction: " . . . Help given by one believer to another that enables the latter to pay attention to God's personal communication to him or her, to respond to this personally communicating God, to grow in intimacy with this God, and to live out the consequences of the relationship." In direction, we take any life experience that the directee brings and consider together, reverently, where God is in it.
For the time I meet with each directee, we are on sacred ground as, in a totally safe and confidential environment, I listen and sometimes share perspectives. And I make the following promises which I have adapted from a text by San Francisco spiritual director Karen Erlichman, D Min, LCSW:
I never forget that there are always three of us engaged in spiritual direction, as indicated by three chairs in the picture on this page: the directee, the spiritual director and the Holy Spirit. And it is really the Holy Spirit who directs.
Some persons are concerned about the distinctions between spiritual direction, pastoral care, psychological counseling and psychotherapy. An excellent resource developed by Christine Luna Munger describing in template form these differences may be viewed on the following Spiritual Directors International link: http://www.sdiworld.org/sites/default/files/find-a-spiritual-director/Comparison%20of%20Helping%20Fields.pdf