What Is This Thing Called Spiritual Direction?
“One beggar showing another beggar where to find bread” is an apt description of spiritual direction. In this ancient metaphor we see the two essential qualities for being a spiritual guide: attending to the Presence of the Sacred with one ear while simultaneously attending to another hungry soul with the other. (In this respect spiritual direction differs from modern psychological counseling that usually has a more problem-centered focus—though some persons may be involved in both.)
A many colored coat
This ancient art is “a many colored coat” that goes by varied names: spiritual direction, spiritual guidance, spiritual companionship or friendship, soul friends (Irish anamchara), spiritual mentoring, or discipling—and the rebbe-hasid (teacher-seeker) tradition in Judaism. I prefer “spiritual companioning,” because it means walking alongside another companion on the path.
How do I find a spiritual director?
Begin by praying: “What qualities do I desire in a spiritual guide? What are my hopes? Do I prefer a male or female? Someone in my own tradition or outside it?” Find a safe person; a close colleague may not have perspective. Network: ask others about persons with training for this ministry. (Usually you meet face to face, but can meet via phone or Skype.) Spiritual Directors International lists trained guides in your area: www.sdiworld.org and click on Find a Spiritual Director – Seek & Find.
For information on frequency of meetings and other practical questions about this ancient contemporary practice, see Kent Ira Groff’s pamphlet Spiritual Companioning: What Is This Thing Called Spiritual Direction?
Video Intro to Spiritual Direction
Religion & Ethics (Feb. 26, 2010) featured an excellent video with Lizz Budd Ellman (and other SDI folks) in Seattle. It’s very descriptive and inclusive as a link to send others – especially “secular” folks – that might be interested in Spiritual Companioning, but who want more info (includes video and written script).