Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.Matthew 7:
Start with prayer.
As with anything else in life, bring both your heart and mind to your quest for a spiritual director but let it begin with prayer. As you long to know God more deeply, God is longing to be invited along! As a favorite verse from Ephesians says, “[God’s] power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.” (3:20). Trust this.
Start where you are and with who you know.
You don’t exactly have to know why you are looking for spiritual direction, only that you want spiritual direction! Talk to your parish priest. It may be that your priest offers spiritual direction, and if not, they can certainly make referrals. Ask friends or fellow parishioners if they are in spiritual direction and take recommendations from them.
Spiritual Directors International has an online referral service, as well as lots of information about the practice of Spiritual Direction. Know, however, that they are multi-faith so be aware if you are looking for specifically Christian practioners. Many theology schools offer spiritual direction programs (VST and Regent are local examples) and may be good places to initially investigate. You can also contact the Reverend Jessica Schaap (firstname.lastname@example.org), Missioner for Christian Formation, for more information about spiritual directors in the diocese.
Connecting with a spiritual director is much like establishing a relationship with a doctor or therapist. There are general guidelines that are helpful in finding a good fit, but there are also the intangibles. Some good questions to ask are:
- Where were they trained?
- What is their approach to spiritual direction?
- Do they have their own spiritual director and supervisor/supervision group?
- How often are you required to meet?
- What is their fee?
Of course, someone may ‘check all the boxes’ but not be the right director for you. (Absolute necessities for me are irreverence and a sense of humour!) Generally, you want a director who is honest, direct, and respectful of boundaries. But trust your gut, and your heart. A mutual trial period is always a good thing (check in to see how things are going after three meetings, six weeks, six months, etc.) and is a no-fault way to move on if things don’t seem to be working.
Remember, too, that a relationship of this sort is not (necessarily) for life! Depending on where we are in life and how we may change, we may be companioned by a certain person for only a certain season. Good spiritual direction -- on the part of both the director and the directee -- pays attention to the movement of the Holy Spirit. God is the definitive spiritual director, and we must rely on God, in the end, to forge our particular spiritual journey.
This is Part 2 in a two part series on Spiritual Direction. The first part, ‘What is Spiritual Direction' was published in the April 2019 issue of Topic and is also as a blog on this website, please follow this link.