Thursday, September 1, 2011

Spiritual Direction

You are a spiritual director.
I sit in my chair
you in yours.
I have come to see you
with a longing
that mystifies me.
You draw my attention
to the third chair
in the room:
You invite me to see
with the eye of my heart
the Source
of my longing:
the Eternal, invisible, loving, guiding,
challenging, insistent
in the third chair.

Jennifer Jinks Hoffmann, "The Third Chair"

Every postulant will be meeting monthly with a spiritual director. Spiritual direction as practiced by Christians involves a series of conversations between a person seeking to deepen his or her spiritual life and a listener who guides and mentors the seeker into a more intimate relationship with God and with the godly kind of person one wants to be.

This morning, a Franciscan Sister of Peace gave a talk to introduce the postulants to the practice of spiritual direction: what it is, what it is not, how it has developed in the Christian tradition, and why it is important in formation into religious life. We discussed the roles of director and directee, how to determine who is the right spiritual director for you, and what to expect in meetings for direction.

I have benefited from spiritual direction in the past, most recently a couple of years ago at a time when I felt my spirit had become knotted up. My vision had not clouded over completely, nor did I fail entirely to hear what God required of me, but I was becoming an obstacle to myself, and I could not move forward on the path I knew must walk. Talking to a spiritual director helped me untangle the knots, remove the self-made impediments, and stride on again.

It will be a privilege to resume spiritual direction for what I hope will be a long and sustained term. In many ways I feel, more than ever, receptive to the kind of interactions these meetings make, and the holy encounters they call forth. I am comfortable enough in myself to sing my song to others. With trust in these listeners, they can even show to me the story it is mine to tell. God, bring me a companion who will give me her time and help recover me in your time beyond time. Bring me a companion who will give of herself and help me discover more of myself. Let me see you in everything, and in her let me see one of your beloved friends in the Spirit.

Here is a good website, from an interreligious association of professionals, about the practice of spiritual direction.


Today the postulants and friars hosted eight young adult volunteers working with the Capuchin Youth & Family Ministries in Garrison, NY. They, too, attended the talk on spiritual direction. After lunch together we traveled to Luna Park at Coney Island for a pleasant afternoon. This was my first trip ever to Coney Island and to Luna Park, the great-grandmother of all amusement parks in the United States. The first thing we did was ride the Cyclone. This wooden roller coaster was built in 1927 and rehabilitated in 1975 and is a New York City landmark and site in the National Register of Historic Places. I've been on a few roller coasters, and they've been engineered to make the drops and turns graceful, even gentle. But the Cyclone is neither graceful nor gentle! It is truly a force of nature.

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