Sr Kimberly, prioress of St. Scholastica monastery anointing my hands at the certification ceremony.
“Spiritual direction is a process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.” — Robert Mulholland
The month of May is usually filled with graduations. As a mother of four, I’ve loved the opportunity to attend many of these special milestone events. This year I had the privilege of participating as a graduate. Something rather uncommon for a woman who will turn 70 this October! I completed a five-year program to be certified as a spiritual director with Ignatian training. A big “It is finished.”
As we enter June, I’m allowing myself the gift of savoring this time of finishing. I have stayed the course. God has been faithful to me and has given me the grace to be faithful—to Him, to myself, and to the program. I want to linger a bit in this ending. Savor the moment. Guard this rich trust that I have been given. Live deep. And do it all for the glory of God.
I want to pay attention and let God aim me toward what He has next for me. I know that time, space, and quiet are necessary ingredients to grow in the spiritual life. They are definitely something a spiritual director needs to cultivate.
So, what is a spiritual director and what do they do? There are no shortage of definitions to answer these questions. I’m especially fond of the idea that directors are holy listeners and that we bestow attention on others by listening. That may seem simple, but my sense is that there are many in today’s world who long to be seen and heard. A director can give that gift and, more significantly, can help one to sense that God is paying attention and listening to them. We really can learn to watch for God. To behold–be sure to see. And to be expectant of the more.
For someone who is desiring a more lively prayer experience and an intimate connection with God, a spiritual director can provide a safe space and a listening, non-judgmental ear. This allows one to explore their image of God, self, and the world. We are ever-mindful that God is the true Spiritual Director. We simply allow God to love people into being themselves—the creation He has designed them to be. In that sense, we are called to midwife the spiritual life.
Spiritual directors are not the miracle workers. Jesus is. We are not messiahs. We are simply called to serve others, and often in small ways. We leave room for God’s grace to work in and through us, ever aware that God is merciful and faithful and remains with us. We trust that God is continually forming us and others. I have witnessed much healing of deep-seated wounds in myself and others through the spiritual direction experience.
The function of spiritual leadership is to show in our own lives the beauty that oozes out of those who live the spiritual life to its fullness. To enshrine what a good life can be.
We are to leave people more spiritually stirred, more alive in Christ and more aflame with the Gospel.
The Rule of Benedict Insights for the Ages —Joan Chittister
Some have asked if direction sessions can be done virtually. The answer is yes. I have been doing some sessions virtually and plan to continue that. However, I dearly love sitting face to face with another soul in my home office with its serene view of our forest and lake.
Although we live in a goal-oriented society, this does not often apply to the spiritual life in the same way. But I pray that time in spiritual direction will aid one in fulfilling the call of Christ, which is to build a more just and gentler world where God’s love reaches every nook and cranny.
I would very much appreciate your prayers as I go forward in this:
May I always keep in mind my own weak soul, dark mind, and fragile heart when I touch the souls, minds, and hearts of others. May my weakness be my anchor—a gift leading to insight and humility.
May we all trust God who watches with patience our puny efforts and our foolish failures”. (The Rule of Benedict Insights for the Ages—Joan Chittister)
I’ll end with the prayer that I prayed with the other candidates at our certification: Loving God, on this 6th day of May 2023, I accept the call of the Spirit to walk faithfully and lovingly with all those women and men who ask me to journey with them. I recognize that to do this, I am in need of your faithful love. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, your son and our brother. Amen.
Feel free to contact me at email@example.com