Earlier this month I completed a certificate in spiritual direction from Southern Methodist University. On a quiet and cool Saturday afternoon, I gathered with my classmates, instructors and mentors along with my family to complete a three (plus) year process. I began the program in April 2020 with the vision of using the skills and practices from spiritual direction to deepen my work as a congregational consultant. My philosophy when I work with any individual or organization is that what we need is already here–we just need to practice deep listening in order to draw out the resources that exist and create a thoughtful strategy. When I work with non-profits we practice deep institutional listening to develop outcomes that come from within the organization and occasionally with the assistance of valued ministry partners. Spiritual direction is the practice of deep listening so that one might explore the freedom they have in God.
Over the past three years, the process would be a continual practice of surprises and pivots. I had no idea when I applied for the program in the fall of 2019 that two thirds of the journey would be held online. My cohort, a group of peers with a wide range of professional experience and spiritual backgrounds, would gather online for course weekends and once a month to connect, pray and discuss assignments. We were overjoyed when we could at last meet in person on campus. I was surprised yet again, when days from graduation weekend my oldest child was scheduled for an unplanned heart surgery, delaying graduation . Completing this part of the journey as a spiritual director feels momentous not just as part of my personal and professional development but as a marker in time.
What I discovered along the way is that I actually love sitting with directees for spiritual direction and integrating the practices and tools I am developing as a spiritual director into a variety of retreat settings. I enjoy the process of carving out space to sit in the presence of the Spirit with an individual and wonder at what God might be breathing into their lives. I am looking forward to how spiritual direction will impact my ministry in unexpected and beautiful ways.