There is increasing interest in the ministry of spiritual direction. Phillida Smith explains how it works.
The ministry of Spiritual Direction is not much practised in the Anglican Church today, indeed it is often confused with counselling or problem solving.
However, the object of Spiritual Direction is not to solve problems, but rather to grow in faith and deepen our relationship with God. To discover where and how God is working in our lives and suggest ways of drawing closer to Him.
It is a journey involving three people: The Director, the Directee and God.
The Director aims to provide a safe space and supportive atmosphere in which the Directee can express their joy, pain, confusion or gratitude, without ever feeling judged.
The Director is there to listen to the Directee and to help him/her to listen to God and notice what they are feeling. (It is surprising how often we are unaware of our real feelings.)
Directors listen actively, with sensitivity and compassion, not passively with detachment and guardedness. Above all, they never discuss, with anyone, what they have heard. In this sense Spiritual Direction has rightly been called Holy Listening for it is as sacred and secret as the confessional.
The primary purpose of Spiritual Direction is to help people deepen their relationship with God through learning to know and better understand themselves. You cannot know and love God if you do not know and love yourself. Spiritual Directors are there to facilitate the process. They may also be able to help the Directee let go of an outgrown or immature image of God. How many of us still think of God as sitting up in heaven with His big black book noting all our sins?
The Parish of St Mark's, Deloraine, now has a qualified Spiritual Director and we have set up a pleasant space with a couple of comfortable chairs and tea and coffee making facilities, where Spiritual Direction can take place. A Spiritual Direction is normally limited to an hour and there is no charge, though a donation towards the cost of power and light would be appreciated. The Director and Directee would normally meet once a month at a mutually agreed time.
If you are interested or would like to know more, contact the Rector, Alan Bulmer 03 6362 2010