Spiritual direction is simply being a companion to one seeking God’s presence and life purpose according to God’s will.
Although confidentiality and safety are of utmost importance, spiritual direction is not therapy or psychoanalysis nor is it “fix-it” methodology.
Centering the Holy Spirit as the true director and the client as the locus of discernment, a spiritual director becomes a soul-friend with whom individuals can talk and share. A soul-friend nor anyone else can fully enter an individual’s deep soul space. But a spiritual director can listen to the articulations of deep soul space, silently open these to God and occasionally speak when something is heard in that openness that seems to be meant for the client.
Spiritual direction is an ancient tradition described throughout Hebrew and Christian scripture whenever people are trying to describe personal and group encounters ultimately beyond their comprehension yet which they experience as very real and communicative in the moment. This sort of interaction happens in contemporary life as well, inviting an intimate communion with God and active love and appreciation of life. These encounters can be experienced by our imaginations, senses, wonderment and also in emptiness, darkness and through mistakes. A spiritual guide can listen and decipher with clients how these experiences give meaning to their lives.
The following are primary objectives of spiritual direction:
- To welcome the loving presence of God, gently guiding words and thoughts to synchronize with the Holy Spirit (however the client understands God and the Holy Spirit).
- To provide a safe, hospitable, listening space for the client to share any thoughts or feelings he/she wants to share, feels the need to share or has difficulty sharing in other settings.
- To be a spiritual companion to the sometimes lost and lonely process of decision-making.
- To help the client recognize his/her spiritual journey, untangling and guiding through confusion or apprehension in order to be grounded and empowered in the divine, present moment.
- To accept, assure and affirm the client as a beloved child of God.
© Amy Harkness 2009
Edwards, T. Spiritual Director, Spiritual Companion. Mahwah, New Jersey:
Paulist Press, 2001.
Guenther, M. Holy Listening. Lanham, Maryland: Rowan and Littlefield, 1992.