One of the Direction Statements of our 2006 Provincial Chapter is: “We will nurture the hunger for God by journeying with others in prayer and compassion.” The ministry of spiritual direction is one way to respond to the above Direction from our Chapter. About ten years ago I became involved in this ministry. I took the Formation Course in Mercy Centre, Burlingame, California. I feel that it is a call within the Mercy call to respond to the hunger of our time.
We live in a time when the many voices of world systems are clamoring for people’s attention. This is indeed a chaotic moment for society. The stress arising from trying to cope with day-to-day living can be overwhelming. It is difficult for faithfilled persons to find balance in their lives. Spiritual Direction is one way to help find that balance.
People from all walks of life seek spiritual guidance, those in professional and non-professional work, some in the medical field, others in the educational field, executives directors, homemakers, women and men religious, ordained and non-ordained church leaders, retirees, hospice ministers, prison ministers. All have one thing in common; they seek to nurture their hunger for God.
My role as a Spiritual Director is to provide a sacred space, to be a compassionate listener and companion so the directee may discover what God is manifesting at that time in their life. I am aware of the guidance of the Holy Spirit in both of us. My greatest delight is being witness to the discovery of God in the ordinary by the directee. It bears out the truth of what Paula D’Arcy says, “God comes to you disguised as your life.”
Directees come for direction on an on-going basis. The session begins, sometimes in silence, sometimes in prayer. The directee shares what is going on in their life at that time. Often she/he may have a life experience that can be an opportunity for growth in their relationship with God. I listen for one thing only; the presence of God in the conversation. Through reflecting back the “story” and using skilled questioning, I enable the person to come to an awareness of God’s message through the “story.” It is in this process of sharing and reflecting back that the Holy Spirit is at work. It is truly awesome to be present at the intermingling of two great mysteries, the mystery of God and the mystery of the human being. It is on this sacred ground where these two great mysteries interact that I am privileged to witness and affirm.
People who seek spiritual direction on a regular basis live life at a deeper and richer level. As Joyce Rupp says: “They choose to live intentionally.” They are indeed a sign of hope to people in their lives – at home, in the workplace, and especially to those among us who are struggling with life’s problems on many levels.
Eileen Rafferty rsm