What is spiritual direction?
Want to grow your spiritual side — or be more attentive to God in your own unique life experience? Spiritual direction — also known as spiritual companionship or having a “soul friend”– is a time-honored spiritual practice in many religions, but being “religious” is not a prerequisite. “Nones” may also find spiritual companionship a way to get in touch with their own unique ways of spiritual practice (such as meditation or yoga) or exploring their own beliefs/values/feelings about the spiritual dimension of life.
For those of the Christian faith, spiritual direction assists one in building a closer relationship with God or paying more attention to the presence of God in one’s daily life.
Spiritual directors are specially trained in the art of spiritual listening in order to serve those who come to them for one-on-one conversation, usually once a month for about one hour. In our culture, the term “spiritual direction” can be misleading. Spiritual directors do not tell others what to do or “direct” their lives, but rather provide a safe, confidential space in which to explore spiritual issues (examples below). The real director in spiritual direction is the Holy Spirit (or Spirit however you perceive the Divine). Because of this, many people today prefer the terms “spiritual companioning,” “soul friendship,” or “spiritual mentoring.”
Here is one definition of spiritual direction, from the website of Spiritual Directors International:
Spiritual direction is the process of accompanying people on a spiritual journey. Spiritual direction exists in a context that emphasizes growing closer to God (or the sacred, the holy or a higher power).
Why might someone want to visit a spiritual director or “soul friend”? Here are some common reasons people give:
- I want to become more aware of God’s presence in my daily life (integrating my spiritual side with family life, work, service, etc.)
- I’m facing an important decision/transition and wonder what God wants
- I didn’t grow up with any faith/spiritual community and wondering what I personally want
- I hunger for a deeper personal relationship with God
- I was hurt by a religious institution and am struggling to find the love of God
- I am studying theology and don’t want it to just be a “head trip”
- My prayer life feels boring/dry/dead/confusing/needs enrichment
- I want to grow a more reflective, intentional way of living
- I want to explore new ways to pray, reflect, contemplate, meditate
Spiritual directors usually charge a fee because they do not receive wages from any institution for this service. The fee is not payment for advice or prayer, but rather to help compensate them for their time. Many offer a sliding scale or make exceptions for those who cannot afford spiritual direction. They do not want people to stay away due to inability to pay.
Spiritual Direction with Julie
Rev. Julie McCarty lives in the area of Alexandria, Minnesota and meets with people in person, via phone, or online on Skype or Zoom. She was ordained an ecumenical Christian minister by Liberating Spirit Christian Community in Saint Paul, Minn. Julie holds degrees in education and theology, and was trained as a spiritual director at the Hesychia School of Spiritual Direction in Tucson, Ariz. (“Hesychia” is a Greek word from Eastern Christianity that means prayerful, inner stillness.) Her training includes emphasis on various ways to pray, discernment process, finding God in the “everyday experience,” Christian mysticism, and methods of both Christian and interfaith spiritual direction (rooted in classic and contemporary understandings of spirituality).
Julie is an open-minded and open-hearted Christ-follower who respects people of other faiths and nones. She believes the Divine One is already present in our lives — and spiritual direction is one way we can be more attentive to where that Divine or our spiritual dimension is leading us. A former Roman Catholic, she grew up in a family whose ancestors were Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Ukrainian Catholic, and Polish Catholic. She has great respect for the beliefs of her clients and is not there to change them, but rather to support people in finding their own way on the journey.
Practical details: During the first meeting, the two people get acquainted, any questions about spiritual direction are discussed, and to see if it’s “a good fit.” If both agree, they begin to meet about once a month for about one hour.
Fee: A sliding scale of $40-80 per session (you decide what you can afford based on your income — special arrangements can be made for those who cannot afford it). Pay by cash, check, or PayPal.
Questions? Want to give it a try? Send Julie an e-mail with “Spiritual Direction” in the subject line to… juliemccarty (followed by) @usfamily.net — OR — message me on Facebook on my page called Spiritual Drawing Board.
Dig deeper! Learn more:
More info on spiritual direction: https://www.sdicompanions.org/about/what-is-spiritual-direction-and-companionship/