Please take a moment and let me know your reaction to the material presented here. I am a spiritual director who works with all sorts of people encouraging their own unique spiritual journeys. Your stories and comments help me keep track of what issues are most common to us all. Thank you for your interest.
Here are some of my favorite sites that feed my own journey. I hope some of them will nurture you as well. If you have others to add, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. I've also included some book links to Amazon.com.
I encourage you to click here to view an extensive collection from the web library of Spiritual Directors International of recommended resources for both Spiritual Directors and those seeking the wisdom of others who have walked the spiritual path before.
SPIRITUAL DIRECTION, sometimes called SPIRITUAL COMPANIONSHIP, can help you listen for the still small voice of God. Finding another person who knows how to listen to your soul and remain open to the leading of God's Spirit is often just what you need for encouragement in the development and strengthening of your spiritual life.
Q: Why use the term spiritual director which sounds so controlling?
A: This term has been used for 1500 years in the Christian tradition and has a special flavor which links us to many others who have sought help on their journey. Today, many may prefer the term spiritual companion.
Q: What does a spiritual director or spiritual companion do?
A: Listen! Listen! Listen! To be really heard by another person is a gift beyond measure. The spiritual director also makes observations, and sometimes suggestions, cognizant that the the relationship between the directee and God is unique and ultimately one that the spiritual director can only observe.
Q: How can I find a spiritual director that is right for me?
A: You might talk with a congregational leader to ask for recommendations, keeping in mind that you are the one on the journey. A leader you know well may not be the best choice for long term spiritual direction, since you have a history with that person that makes it difficult for each of you to remain objective. You may also request information about spiritual directors in your area from Spiritual Directors International. See their website in the recommended links section. Don't be afraid to try several directors until you find one you feel you can relate to comfortably.
Q: What if I am not a part of the Christian faith tradition? Is there spiritual direction available for me?
A: Yes. Many spiritual directors are trained in inter-faith direction or even no-faith direction. The spiritual and the religious can profitably be kept separate, so that individuation can be encouraged. Some spiritual directors use 12-step terminology, such as higher power.
Q: I grew up in a church where we never heard of spiritual direction. I was taught that I was to have my own personal relationship with God, with no one else intervening.
A: I share your background. Spiritual direction is not talked about very much in the free churches. If you remember the basic tenet of spiritual direction -- that God's Spirit is the true director -- much of this issue is resolved. There is a certain sense of humility involved in working with a director. This, coupled with our common belief that we can do it ourselves, may cause us to hesitate when considering a Spiritual Director. Soul competency is a precious part of my tradition. I have found that Spiritual Direction does not violate this tenet. We are still responsible for our own relationship with God.
Q: Why make the connection with Jungian Psychology?
A: I feel that in our day the language and concepts of depth psychology, particularly those proposed by Carl Jung, speak with a familiar ring. We tend to see ourselves and others as psychological as well as spiritual beings. Although there is not a direct transfer between spirituality and depth psychology, many of the important concepts in each find parallels in the other. We must discover, ultimately, our path, holding the mystery of God's Spirit with humility, but also seeking to live authentically in a world that more often than not speaks the language of the psyche. It is helpful to remember that the desert mothers and fathers were really early psychologists, who developed the idea of the care of the soul.
Q: Do I have to pay for Spiritual Direction?
A: This depends on who you choose for a director. In most cases in the United States, Spiritual Directors accept monetary compensation. In many cases this fee (or donation) is based on a sliding scale. A good rule of thumb is to give your director the equivalent of what you yourself earn on your job in one hour. If you are not employed, your director will discuss compensation with you. Keep in mind that many directors have made a considerable investment becoming qualified to work with you. You certainly have a right to discuss such qualifications up front. A general range of compensation is between $20 and $50 per session. One final note about fees. In many cultures, willingnesss to provide financial compensation is related to a person's commitment to the effort and seriousness about their desire to grow and change. Do not let finances be a roadblock to getting Spiritual Direction. There is someone out there who can work with you within your means.
Q: Should I find a director from my own denomination or faith tradition?
A: Often, it is helpful to work with someone from outside your own faith tradition. This may open up new insights for you in your own journey. If you desire, by all means look within your own tradition, which may give you a greater sense of security and connectedness with your director.
Q: What about gender in a Spiritual Director.
A: Many prefer to work with someone of their own gender, although others find it helpful and freeing to seek a director of the opposite gender. Be honest with yourself on this and choose wisely.