What is Spiritual Direction?
Spiritual direction is a sacred conversation in which a director helps you discern the voice of God. In our busy, distracted, lonely and anxious society, most of us need extra help creating time and space to listen to God’s voice. A spiritual director offers guidance through those things that help and hinder your deeper sense of God. This help is specific to your unique, personal journey as you and a director ask together, who is God for you right now?
God is everywhere always making himself available to us, always inviting us deeper into his love. The question is if we are able to hear and respond to this invitation. A spiritual director can help you identify how to be attentive to God’s presence and love, his movements in your day to day as well as in the larger movements of your life.
Spiritual direction is not counseling or therapy. It is also not pastoral counseling, teaching, mentoring or discipleship. Spiritual direction may assist but cannot replace the help of a good psychological therapist. It may compliment the ministry of a local church, the gift of a pastor or a mentor, and it may include some bits of teaching along the way. However, the focus of spiritual direction is not the wisdom and insight of the director. The focus of spiritual direction is your unique, conversational relationship with God.
In spiritual direction we are seeking for you to hear and respond to God.
How do I practice Spiritual Direction?
Spiritual direction occurs in a session of 50 minutes. The invitation is to a prayerful conversation where we quiet inner selves, wait patiently, and listen to the Spirit of God in the context of your life. We can begin however you would like. Often it is helpful to start our time with silence, a passage of scripture, or a prayer—something to help us turn our attention to the Spirit. You are then free to share from your life, your frustrations, hurts and celebrations as we attend to the question: who is God for you in this? This is to ask, how can you deepen your prayer life…how can you become more attentive to the work and love of God?
In considering your prayer life, we are not just interested in your prayers but also perhaps in your prayerlessness. Prayer in its broadest sense, again, is about your relationship with God. When the apostle Paul invites us to pray without ceasing, he means that we might live and walk by his Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5, Romans 8). Jesus gives us an image of this when he invites us to abide in him just as a branch abides in a vine (John 15). This nearness and openness to God is indeed the abundant life that Jesus promised us. Thus this is a purpose of spiritual direction: the fullness and abundance of your life in God.
As I listen with you, I sometimes sit with my eyes closed. I also allow for short or extended times of silence. I might turn to Scripture, written prayers or spiritual writings in the course of our conversation all for the sake of developing our conversation with God.
Who is Spiritual Direction for?
Anyone is welcome to participate in spiritual direction. There is no need to be further along in your spiritual journey. There is no need to have anything figured out or for you to be perfect. In fact, you do not even need to consider yourself a Christian or a religious person of any kind! Spiritual direction does require you to have some curiosity about God and the ability to set aside an hour for our meeting together. Some people come to direction a few times. Others continue in direction for years.
How often do we meet?
Generally it is recommended to participate in spiritual direction once a month. For people just starting out, it can be helpful to meet every other week for a few sessions as we get oriented.
Where do we meet?
I meet with people at Hope College and Western Seminary in Holland, MI. I am also in Grand Rapids at the Dominican Center at Marywood once per month. I am also available via skype, a venue that surprisingly works well for direction.
Is there a fee for Spiritual Direction?
I am asking directees to consider offering a donation of the going rate for direction in West Michigan, $40. Seminarians are encouraged to consider a $20 donation. If you have interest in direction but cannot afford the donation, please inquire anyway.