For both therapist and director, insofar as each is participating
in a double process of healing and of growth, love is the
supreme requirement. ―Alan Jones
Guidance and direction are available in one-to-one and group settings.
What can you expect from Spiritual Direction?
- A greater awareness of the presence of God in your life ― in both places of darkness and light
- A clearer sense of what God is calling you to do and be. A stronger sense of purpose and direction in life
- Identifying the spiritual practices that help you be responsive to God given your personality and this time in your life.
Before beginning: For spiritual guidance to be useful, and the time together well spent, you need to enter the process already being familiar with basic Anglican spiritual practices and ways of understanding your spiritual life in relationship to your personality. The parish offers programs each year that may help you.
The next step: Speak with the Rector about what's available at the time. You will want to consider whether to work in a one-to-one or group setting. You will also want to consider the background and training of the director.
You'll also be helped to explore whether your need is best addressed through spiritual direction. There are other resources that might prove more useful – therapy, pastoral counseling and human relations lab training have all helped people in their growth.
From time to time parishioners are asked in a survey if they would like some form of individual or group spiritual guidance. After that information is gathered there is follow up to refer people and create requested groups. Obviously, you can go to the rector at any time to ask for counsel about entering direction with someone.
The spiritual guides/directors: May be a priest or layperson. You will want to have some initial time with the director to see if there is an adequate degree of comfort on both your parts.
This is Anglican/Episcopal Spirituality: For the most part the guides and directors will be providing guidance that is congruent with the Anglican/Episcopal tradition. That will be grounded in the broader Christian tradition while being specific to our tradition of spiritual life.
In large part this is a practical matter. Spiritual life is experienced and lived in relationship to particular traditions. There are directors within many traditions ― Jewish, New Age, Islamic, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and so on. Sometimes the director has some awareness of the approach of other traditions but that is usually limited. What we offer through the parish are resources that may help you develop a deeper and richer spiritual life within the Anglican/Episcopal tradition.
Individual Spiritual Guidance
Short term: No more than three sessions that may be used in addressing some specific issue in your spiritual life. This might be with a priest in the parish or you could be referred to someone outside the parish. You may receive a recommendation for a next step.
Long term: This is the classic approach to spiritual direction. You might work with a spiritual director over many years. Director and directee/client discuss significant issues in the life of the directee/client and the connection between those issues and relationship with God. There is usually a fee involved in these arrangements. The parish clergy do not offer long-term direction. The rector can refer you to a director.
In long-term direction most spiritual directors meet with their clients about once a month. A useful course of action may be to meet with a director once or twice to see if both parties are comfortable working with each other.
Rabbi Jacob Staub was quoted on the Spiritual Directors International website as saying: "The object of spiritual direction is to cultivate one's ability to discern God's presence in one's life — to notice and appreciate moments of holiness, to maintain an awareness of the interconnectedness of all things, to explore ways to be open to the Blessed Holy One in challenging and difficult moments as well as joyful ones. The director serves as a companion and witness, someone who helps you (sometimes with questions, sometimes just by listening) to discern the divine where you might have missed it and to integrate that awareness into your daily life."
Are you seeking pastoral care, pastoral counseling, or spiritual direction?
Pastoral Care: The more routine support provided in the parish by the clergy and lay associates. This is usually very short term and in relationship to some crisis in life.
Pastoral Counseling: Help in coping with the challenges life presents. Health, financial, relationship, family, and vocational crises come with life. Someone can meet with you to help you assess what's happening and provide support, prayer, and guidance. There may also be a referral to other professionals.
Spiritual Direction: Spiritual direction is about your relationship with God as a baptized person within the Body of Christ. It isn't crisis counseling, marital therapy, pastoral counseling, or psychotherapy. In long-term spiritual direction you form a spiritual friendship with the director in which director and directee/client journey together in their relationship with God.