What is spiritual direction?
Spiritual direction is a practice and a process. Like any spiritual practice, it is a commitment to intentionally engage with your deep self and connect to God. As a process, spiritual direction can be thought of as a path of discovery, not as a means to an end.
In the Christian tradition, it can be traced to the desert mothers and fathers of the early fourth century. People would make a journey to sit with wise people who lived contemplative lives, outside of institutional systems.
It is inherently relational; as one person examines the truth of their lives, another bears witness and listens both to the speaker and to the movement of God. Both parties are changed as they practice. It is also inherently transformational; when one person finds personal spiritual freedom, they become participants in the greater work of social transformation through the power of transforming love.
The role of the director is not to judge, teach, or advise. Rather, the director holds space for another person (or group) to explore their relationship with God (or The Holy, or Mystery, as that fits the person’s experience), facilitated by deep listening and attentiveness to the action and invitation of the Spirit. This process guides us from within our own experience to the transcendent meaning of our lives.
A spiritual direction session may look or feel similar to counselling; the difference is in its purpose. Rather than focusing on fixing a problem, or learning how to change one’s thoughts, spiritual direction is focused on helping the directee experience the presence of God more deeply. Spiritual direction can be a complementary practice to people who receive counselling or are in recovery.
Generally, each session is about an hour long and sessions are scheduled every 4-6 weeks. The spiritual director will begin the time by lighting a candle or giving some time of stillness before moving in to the session. We take time to acknowledge God’s presence and offer a prayer that Spirit would illuminate what we need to see or notice. Times of silence are a welcome and expected part of direction. This helps give space for each person to think more deeply about what’s been said and notice what is rising. Tears and laughter are also natural, welcome parts of spiritual direction.
When should I consider spiritual direction?
Spiritual direction can be helpful when:
God feels silent
If you are experiencing God as silent, cruel, or absent, a spiritual director can help you explore toxic images of God. They can also help you explore new forms of prayer or spiritual practices that help you experience God in new ways.
Does the weight of your life feel too much to carry on your own? Have you noticed that you feel stuck in a particular story about yourself, God, others or the world? Having a spiritual director bear witness to you may bring in a new insight or help raise to the surface what you haven’t been able to see on your own.
Things are changing
If you are going through a major transition or life event, facing a big decision that needs discernment, spiritual direction can be a place to process, listen and attend to what needs care.
You’re disappointed by the gap between what you wish was true and your reality.
Maybe you are realizing that the life you want is far from the one you have, or the person you are is not the person you’ve been called to be. Maybe you are in a season with a lot of disappointments, where you’re starting to lose hope and get disillusioned. A spiritual director can help you get in touch with the gift that this awareness of reality brings and discern what is true.
You are carrying a lot of other people’s stories.
If you are a pastor or involved in a ministry that requires spiritual care for others, you may need a space to reflect on your own personal experience with God. Spiritual directors can tend to your story in confidence, and explore Spirit’s invitation to you as an individual.
Church doesn’t feel like a safe place.
Alternatively, you may want to talk about your relationship with God in a venue that is not directly related to the Institutional Church. For people who have been injured by the church, spiritual direction can provide a sense of belonging in the larger faith community.
Do I need to be a Christian to receive spiritual direction?
The Shekinah program is rooted in the Christian contemplative tradition, but we believe all people can benefit from spiritual direction, as long as there is a willingness to engage a reflective process that includes an ability to look deeply both within and beyond themselves.
How much does it cost?
We charge $65 for a session, or $45 if that feels out of reach. If you are able to pay more, we encourage you to make a donation through the Foundation. This helps us continue to operate.
If you cannot afford sessions, please contact the Director to make arrangements.
Sessions with student spiritual directors are free, and are offered in 8-meeting packages, to ensure that students will be able to fulfill their practicum.