The Reverend Jessica Schaap
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For the relationship of direction is to be one in which the channels of grace are opened, and the Holy Spirit is able to move freely in the Christian person, drawing her to a closer union and a greater freedom as a child of God. – Kenneth Leech

Do you long for dedicated time to explore your interior life? Your experience of prayer? Your current stage of life and God’s presence in it? Spiritual direction, also known as spiritual companioning, or soul friending is a longstanding practice in the Anglican tradition. It is prayerful conversation where a director listens for the movement of the Holy Spirit in a directee’s life. A director doesn’t tell you what to do, but listens for how God is meeting you in your daily experiences. A director can help with developing a rhythm of life that includes prayer, reflection, and activity that strengthens your relationship with Christ.

Meeting regularly with a spiritual director has nourished the lives of clergy, monastics, and lay people for centuries. Directees usually meet for one hour once a month to talk with a director. It can be a path to more soulful, self-aware living, and more importantly, to an awareness of the workings of the Holy Spirit in and around us. There’s nothing magical or esoteric about it; it’s just honest, searching, regular conversation with no distractions. It’s conversation with someone who deeply listens and is persevering to be a disciple of Jesus along with you.

In today’s church, spiritual directors usually have training in spiritual direction through different programs, are in a peer supervision group to develop their gifts and maintain accountability, and are in direction themselves. They often have a reputation for being people of prayer and of having qualities of careful observation and discernment. They are affirmed in their communities as having a charism or gift for this ministry. They may either be lay people or ordained. They may offer direction at no cost or on a sliding scale.

In this diocese, there are several active spiritual directors who are available to meet with potential directees. Word of mouth is how many people find a good spiritual director, and asking one’s clergy leader is often a first step. The Reverend Jessica Schaap, Missioner for Christian Formation, also keeps a list of directors for referrals. People who are interested in finding a spiritual director can contact her and she can provide you with name and contact info as well as other details such as training, fees, location, and availability. It is up to potential directees to try out and discover who might be a good fit. Often directors will offer a discernment period of 3-4 sessions to see if the relationship is a fruitful one. Mature directors do not expect that everyone will desire their companioning. Directors generally meet in person, but some are available by telephone or video conferencing such as by Zoom or Skype.

If you would like to read more about the ministry and practice of spiritual direction, here are a couple recommended books by Anglican writers:

Margaret Guenther, Holy Listening: the Art of Spiritual Direction (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1992).

Kenneth Leech, Soul Friend: Spiritual Direction in the Modern World (Morrisburg, PA: Morehouse, 2001).

Photo: SDI Productions (Stock photo ID: 1004303738)