Spiritual direction has been part of my ministry for a long time, but it wasn't until about a year and a half ago that I was willing to call it that. I didn't like the phrase, for one; having grown up in hierarchical religions, the notion of having someone "direct" my spiritual life was a distinct turn-off.
Winter before last, during a period of intense discernment, my friend Michelle told me, in so many words, that spiritual direction is exactly what I do. I nearly tossed off a flippant email in reply, but thought first and looked some things up. My searches brought me to Spiritual Directors International's page on "What is spiritual direction?" I felt like I'd been dropped in a bell that was ringing. Ohhhh. What Michelle said made so much sense.
I still haven't found a term I like better, or, most importantly, that conveys the essence of this practice to other people more accurately. Spiritual navigation? Spiritual mentoring? (A term used in some Pagan circles.) Spiritual companionship? The best terminology for me will come.
I'm glad to see this article, which talks about some of what's behind spiritual direction, but more importantly, the experience of people who seek out, and find it helpful, to talk to someone about their spiritual lives.
Certified spirit guides | Philadelphia Inquirer | 09/23/2009:
Certified spirit guides
Quietly, compassionately, spirit directors take the soul by the hand, helping a seeker tap deeper dimensions.
By Anndee Hochman
For The Inquirer
Fifteen years ago, Susan Cole was a pastor with a troubling dilemma: She felt unable to pray. It was a stressful time in her parish at Arch Street United Methodist Church in Center City, and Cole felt her anxiety climbing. She tried closing her eyes and focusing on a meaningful passage of Scripture. She tried waking before dawn to pray. All that did was make her tired.
'I was a mess,' she recalls. 'I would feel myself working really hard, I'd get more anxious and not feel any connection to God.'