Getting the Most
|Spiritual Direction is less a ministry of
giving directions than it is of holy listening. In the past, one
went to religious for Spiritual Direction, and of course many still do.
And this is good. There has also been an increase in God's call to
the laity to be formed in this ministry and to offer it to others.
Many laity have been well trained through classes, internships and
supervision so that they have much to offer their fellow lay members.
You will find Spiritual Directors among fathers and mothers, among
divorced men and women, among widows and widowers and all kinds of other
singles. They come in all colors, shapes and sizes as well as
ages. There is just the right one for you just a prayer away.
A Catholic, or Christian of any background, seeks out a Director
often when there is a sense of being ill at ease with life, including
God. The sense of inner discomfort can come from a variety of
things. One person might be restless, and God may be inviting him
to a "growth spurt." Another might be in the
middle of a terrible crisis, unable to understand what is happening, and
God may be asking her to go deeper, to search out her faith at a new
level. A third person might be trying to integrate an abusive
childhood into a more hopeful and joyful faith life.
|That means that together the Directee and
Director begin to sense where God is at work in the Directee's life and
how God is inviting the Directee to respond.
In good Spiritual Direction, a Director does not impose his or her views on a Directee. Instead, through sensitivity to the Spirit and the heart of the Directee, the Director will help focus the person on the movement of God within. The answer is already there, for God speaks directly to each of us, we are simply distracted by many things. Sitting quietly in a safe and confidential environment allows God's words to come more easily to a person's awareness. When that happens, there is an "Aha!" experience. All of a sudden that which has been out of focus now is clear. A sense of joy or release comes. A fresh sense of God's Spirit moves within the Directee's heart.
To get the most from a Spiritual Direction experience, a Directee needs to pray for the Director and for the session before they meet. The Director also will be praying. The session itself is in essence a living prayer, so attentiveness and expecting God to be present are important inner attitudes. Fresh or deeper awareness of God's activity in our lives surfaces, so when the session is over, it is helpful to note what touched us the most--either something we really liked or something we really didn't like. Between sessions it is important to reflect back on what happened and to open that to God by sitting with God in silent prayer letting one's thoughts go to God easily, gently.
|New insights may emerge. It is helpful
to keep track of these in a journal that you can bring to Spiritual
Direction if you choose. Sometimes we forget how God has
manifested to us during the month.
Another way to make the most of Spiritual Direction is to ask for homework that the Director thinks might further the movement of God in your soul. You might even suggest a homework assignment that interests you. If you do ask for one, be sure and try it, for it has come out of a sacred time and sacred space as two have shared in the presence of God. Above all, pray regularly and be able to report what your prayer experience is like, and be honest and open with your Director. Spiritual Direction is a special kind of spiritual friendship which mediates God's merciful love. If you've been thinking about getting Direction, pray about it, and ask God to lead you to the right Director for you.
Nancy Pfaff, M.A., is a Spiritual Director in Northern Nevada. You can reach her at (775) 560-3030.s