It’s been over a year since I made the decision to start sharing my writing again. I sensed God leading me to write as part of my “what’s next” for the moment. Since that time and by God’s grace, I have published a blog post each month which was a personal goal. I’ve discovered that I enjoy the writing experience—sitting down with my laptop and an iced coffee either at home at my desk or at a favorite coffeehouse. I’ve also been surprised and encouraged by all the connections I’ve made. I love that I have people in different parts of the world reading my blog—a sweet little community. This feeds my soul and my affinity for international connections. My writing has been a sweet surprise from God—a gift of His grace and goodness to me during this new season of my life.
Since returning to the States from the Dominican Republic, I’ve also been drawn to consider getting more training to become certified as a spiritual director. I had personally experienced the value of spiritual direction before moving out of the country, and I was able to find a new spiritual director when we returned. We meet monthly at a Franciscan monastery. She helps me discern God’s movement in my life and the reality of God’s grace at work. Our times together are always an oasis in my day-to-day.
There are many definitions of spiritual direction. I especially like this one.
“The whole purpose of spiritual direction is to penetrate beneath the surface of a [person’s] life, to get behind the façade of conventional gestures and attitudes which he presents to the world, and to bring out his inner spiritual freedom, his inmost truth, which is what we call the likeness of Christ in his soul.”
So, after much prayer, guidance, and research, this month I begin the first phase of a Spiritual Direction training program. For the next six months, I will be participating in a Retreat in Daily Life, which will follow the spiritual exercises of Saint Ignatius. For my recovery friends, my experience with the personal inventory taken in steps 4 and 10 should be good preparation for what Ignatius requires in this retreat. Simply put, it will be a guided time of reflection through personal prayer and journaling along with weekly meetings with other participants and the program director.
One of the books we will be using describes the exercises as “an adventure, not simply of the geographic kind but one leading to the most important destination of all: to the heart of God, which fills the hearts of all people. 1 When I first read this, I had one of those dear moments when I feel a God touch. God’s love for me incarnated in my here and now. God knows that I have always loved an adventure. In fact, since returning to the States, I have frequently asked my husband, “What do you think will be our next adventure?” As I was reading my new material, I felt God gently and lovingly speak to me, “This is it.”
I’m told that we will begin this adventure with the question, “Tell me, who is God for you?” I think that is a great place to start and quite a lot to ponder.
During the upcoming months, I plan to continue to write this monthly blog, but it may take on a different appearance as I go on this adventure. Time will tell.
For this month, I will leave you to reflect on the question, and I will do the same. Maybe we can simply and gently ask ourselves the question each day, and set aside some time to listen to what our hearts say to us. I believe that God will be faithful to answer the question for each of us. On my morning walk today, I asked the question and I heard, “I am always by your side, your constant companion helping you to see sparks of the Divine in all people and all things.”
“Tell me, who is God for you?” I would love to hear some of your responses.
“Then he (Jesus) said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.” (Luke 9:20)
I recently came across this bookmark which we used in our first women’s event in the Dominican Republic. It was meant to spark conversation about who God was for each woman. I think it will make the perfect bookmark for my new textbook. And it may help us answer the question.
1 The Ignatian Adventure: Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius in Daily Life by Kevin O’Brien, SJ