People have been seeking out spiritual guides for nearly as long as the Christian faith has existed. In the early 3rd century, seekers would travel to the desert to find mystics that lived there and ask for spiritual guidance. These mystics, or Desert Fathers and Mothers, practiced listening for and to God in the silence and solitude of the desert—away from societal pressures where life was harsh and vulnerable, yet simple and pious. Seekers would make the pilgrimage to a mystic community, stand at the outer gate and ask, “Please, a word for my soul.”
The seeker, likely not all that different from us, was looking for answers to their deep questions, guidance, reflection and contemplation, and the direction of another spiritual seeker who was maybe further down the road. The mystic wouldn’t gives orders but rather would point in a direction for the seeker to go.
However ancient this tradition is, Spiritual Direction is, for many, a new idea or concept. Eugene Peterson, a Christian writer, poet, and theologian, has said that in its most common everyday form “spiritual direction takes place anytime two people agree to give their full attention to what God is doing in one (or both) lives and seek to respond in faith.” The recent resurgence of Spiritual Direction is welcomed by those who deeply long for God’s presence in today’s busy, on-the-go world.
So what does modern-day Spiritual Direction look like?
Spiritual Direction is a process in which a person opens themselves to an ongoing awareness of God in all of life. It is a practice dedicated to bringing ourselves and our lives into unity with God—a way to live, as author Parker Palmer encourages, “divided no more.” Spiritual Direction creates the time and space to allow God to help us unlearn fruitless habits in order be present with and to us in new and deeper experiences. It is a time of communion and communication with God and our own soul.
I often tell those I meet in Spiritual Direction that we have many people in our lives who listen at us or to us, but very rarely do we have a person listen for us and with us.
If you’re seeking the spiritual, contact Sage Hill Counseling today. We’re here to help.
Dane Anthony is the Director of Spiritual Formation for Sage Hill Counseling. He also co-facilitates multiple groups each week and teaches various classes. Learn more about Dane or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.