I struck up a conversation with an older woman the other day, and she asked how I was surviving on a part time job. I told her I was a spiritual director, and working on building up my business. In return, she said two things that surprised me. The first was great encouragement for me, saying how important spiritual direction was, but this was rapidly followed by, “Spiritual direction is important, but it doesn’t work for me.” My curiosity was piqued, so I asked, “What would spiritual direction working look like for you?” She went on to tell me she has tried with a few different directors, but being an introvert, she always found it hard to start speaking, and the directors she worked with, not knowing what to do, began a conversation with her. She left her sessions feeling like she had been forced into small talk, not speaking about her spiritual life.
While we left our brief time together on a happier note, this conversation left me feeling sad for her, and has stayed with me. It came back to me today as I was driving to take Gibbs for a walk in the woods. We drove the back roads, through empty fields in the farmland, and the landscape struck me speechless. Across the snowy field, the trees were covered with a thick frost, leaving them glowing a whitish, pinkish, bluish color set against a grey sky. It was mystical and still, and a new sight for my eyes. I pulled my car over and sat there on the side of the road soaking in the peace the scene invoked.
As I walked Gibbs a few minutes later, I thought again about spiritual direction and this woman’s experience of it. That feeling I felt while looking at those trees….. that’s spiritual direction, I thought. It doesn’t really matter what the conversation is about…. Or even if there is a conversation or just silence. It’s that feeling of sitting in awe, of allowing the Mystery to take over an ordinary scene, of finding the peace in the midst of discomfort or pain. That’s spiritual direction for me. There are no words really that pinpoint it. It’s a state of being. I find I can have session where really hard, painful, confusing, hurtful feelings or memories are spoken of, or one where more mundane things are talked about. And in both extremes the Mystery is felt and held in that still space. It’s the openness to the Divine, the Peace, the Spirit, the heart-centered-ness of the sacred time. And it’s something I long for for everyone to experience, including this woman I spoke to.
As we enter the Sacred times of Advent, Chanukah, the drawing in of winter, I encourage you all to seek a space where you can be held in the Mystery. A time where you can speak or be silent, where you can discover a closer relationship to the One who calls you beloved, to yourself, to the world around you. A time that allows you to sink into the stillness of belonging. And if anyone of you feel called to allow me to create and be in that space with you, I would be honored!