Spiritual Guidance is a time- honored term for a conversation, ordinarily between two persons, in which a seeker reaches out for a companion to help discern God’s presence in their lives.
In our post-modern age, the term ‘Spiritual Director’ sounds like one person giving Guidance or orders to another. The terms ‘spiritual companioning’, ‘spiritual midwifing’, ‘tending the holy’, or some other nomenclature is given. What we call it doesn’t make any real difference.
The reality remains: It is a Sweet Conversation about life in the light of faith.
"Although Spiritual Guidance has had a burst of new life, it is really quite ancient. Across both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, we find people seeking spiritual counsel. The Queen of Sheba sought out the Wisdom of Solomon. Jesus gave us examples in his conversations with Nicodemus, with the woman at the well, in the ongoing formation of Peter and the other disciples. In the early church, people flocked to hermits in the desert for spiritual counsel. We find this in the writings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers. Across the centuries we find striking examples in some Irish monks, in some German Benedictine nuns, in Charles de Foucault, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Francis de Sales, and others. Today, Spiritual Directors come from many cultural and faith traditions." (Marion Cowan, CSJ)
Typically, Spiritual Guidance sessions take place in a setting that is comfortable safe and secure for the directee and director. Often the location is a local retreat center, or a meeting room in a Parish Hall. With appropriate trust, sessions can also take place in a director/directee’s home or office.
Sessions usually last for an hour and can consist of dialogue, listening, silence, meditation, prayer, movement, art, instruction, or any combination according to the leading of the Spirit.
Do I have to have an understanding of God to begin Spiritual Guidance?
No. So much of life is a mystery, and if we had to have it all figured out before we started anything, we’d never move forward. So the invitation of Spiritual Guidance is to participate in the mystery and work with a trusted friend in a safe, supportive relationship and ask the questions about who God is for you. That friend should be a trained professional in the art of spiritual guidance.
Do I have to be a Christian to be in Spiritual Guidance?
No. Guidance is available to any person, regardless of their faith tradition. It is not the job of the Spiritual Director to ‘convert’ a seeker to any particular religious practice, but to support the seeker in cultivating a meaningful relationship with the Divine according to their own understanding. A trained professional should be sensitive to forms of expression within diverse cultural and religious traditions.
How much does Spiritual Guidance cost?
Usually individuals follow the principals of generosity and responsible giving. A donation of $40-60 usually covers the cost of personal expenses or rental of the room/space.
What Happens in Spiritual Guidance?
Very simply, Spiritual Guidance is a three-way conversation. The Seeker talks, the Director listens, God participates and together you all discern where God (or Higher Power, Spirit, whatever word works best for you) is leading you in your life or how God may be speaking with you. You explore ways to strengthen or deepen a relationship with God or with the Divine. Together you explore ways to improve conscious contact with God as you understand God.