Some of you may be aware that an important part of my ministry is providing spiritual direction. There are several ways to describe this important work. Spiritual Directors International provides this description:
Spiritual direction explores a deeper relationship with the spiritual aspect of being human. Simply put, spiritual direction is helping people tell their sacred stories every day. Spiritual direction has emerged in many contexts using language specific to particular cultural and spiritual traditions. Describing spiritual direction requires putting words to a process of fostering a transcendent experience that lies beyond all names and yet the experience longs to be articulated and made concrete in everyday living. It is easier to describe what spiritual direction does than what spiritual direction is. Our role is not to define spiritual direction, but to describe the experience. Spiritual direction helps us learn how to live in peace, with compassion, promoting justice, as humble servants of that which lies beyond all names.
I am particularly drawn to the last sentence of this particular description since I am indeed trying to live out my life as a humble servant who is a man of peace and compassion who promotes justice. Besides serving as a spiritual director, I am also on the receiving end of this practice, since I also visit with a marvelous spiritual director on a regular basis.
There is another description of this practice on the SDI website that I also really like:
[Spiritual direction is] the contemplative practice of helping another person or group to awaken to the mystery called God in all of life, and to respond to that discovery in a growing relationship of freedom and commitment.
James L. Empereur, SJ, supports this when he aptly states that “Spiritual direction is as much about becoming a more fully appropriated person as it is about being in union with God .” By this he means that this is a “humanization process which is salvational . . . To seize for oneself or as one’s right to be a full human being . . . . “ He also tells us that all people have a right to a spiritual life.
Thus, this sacred work of being human, finding our mysterious, beautiful innermost being as we have been created by a loving Creator is definitely holy work. Spiritual direction (some people prefer “companioning”) thus involves one person walking with another.
As we walk through life, we soon discover, at various points and at different levels, depending on one’s life experiences, how indeed beautiful and unique that we are at our deepest levels. However, because our fellow world denizens may not always understand other individual groups and individuals in their differentness, conflict often arises. This often can result in violence and even death. We all know that humans have been doing this through all of history, with disastrous consequences. As people of this earth, we should know by now that this is not the loving thing to do. It is only when we take the time and have the courage to encounter the other can we build bridges of peace, healing, and understanding.
One of the groups to which I am referring are those who belong to sexual minorities; more specifically, members of the LGBTQ+ community: the reference to all people in sexual minorities who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, and gender non-conforming people. It is extremely important that loving and appropriately informed ministers such as spiritual directors be available to journey with members of marginalized groups such as this one. I myself am involved in various forms of LGBTQ+ ministry, including the service of spiritual direction. Realizing that this is a rather specialized area of spiritual direction, I am happy to announce that I will be soon be sharing information with my colleagues on a world stage. Next month, I will be attending the Spiritual Directors International conference, “Seeking Connection”. I will be one of the workshop presenters, presenting both on Friday and Saturday of the conference weekend. The title of my workshop is, “Walk With Me: Spiritual Direction With the LGBTQ Community”. I look forward to sharing my knowledge and experiences with my contemporaries as well as learning from fellow experts. I look forward to reporting on my experiences post-conference!