On Spiritual Direction

By Mary Hally

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Spiritual Direction welcomes one to explore, discover and share ways in which a person can recognize the endless presence of God within moments. This includes examining the ways one speaks to God, as well as connecting with messages unveiled in response to lingering questions. 

A helpful way to understand what happens in spiritual direction is to imagine that there are “3 chairs” within a room:  the companion (Spiritual Director) who listens, the one sharing (Directee) and the Holy Spirit who guides throughout the conversation. It is a place held for the one invited to feel a freedom to share in many forms, including honesty, vulnerability, healing and growth. Having trust and confidence in knowing that the Holy Spirit is guiding within the conversation makes this time different than cognitive or talk therapy. It is a place that incorporates the wholeness of being human: mind, body, spirit and all things of mysterious creation.

Spiritual direction continuously invites all feelings from the past and present to be understood as guiding “teachers” and welcomes the imagination to reflect on behalf of the future. Purpose within moments is not black or white. It is within the grey, the stirring of many different feelings, perceptions, ideas, experiences and more that is brought into conversation with God within life’s moments.  Examples of questions that may be evoked during spiritual direction can include:

  • What is it that you yearn for?
  • Can you describe what God looks like to you?
  • What is your prayerful time like?
  • What feelings arise within you when you are in a specific moment?
  • Where do you go for comfort and peace when you are feeling emotionally challenged?

Our connection with God is consistent — even in times that we may not be open to recognizing it. Experiences shift ongoing conversations into stages of change and growth. Each life creates ongoing opportunities for us to know God. Life can feel like a constant dance – the styles of movement shift and the rhythm invites moments that provoke different direction and intuitive feelings. These feelings guide us into a moment to rest and converse with God. We may get stuck in a moment or stage until we realize the best way to respond or react. Spiritual direction empowers one into a deeper contemplative and discerning practice which holds the partnership with God at the center. The director’s role is to guide directees through their discoveries.

Spiritual direction also welcomes the inner being of one to share and connect with the visible, as well as the invisible. A person’s contemplative moments may grow in respect to being recognized as a place for continued dialogue with God. The mysteries stretch to become timely revelations of healing and discovery paired with a new pattern of seeking. This way of seeing and experiencing takes much practice and patience as God unfolds revelations.

One of the greatest gifts I have received during my ongoing contemplative practices partnered with spiritual direction is the understanding that each one of us is uniquely nurtured and transformed. That a life journey is filled with personalized experiences that molds one to have deep longings and wounds that are continuously surfacing to guide through growth and transformation and to have a confidence to no longer seek answers through others in regards to a soul’s longing, rather to respect her or his individual invitations and gifts as time unfolds through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Franciscan friar and spiritual writer Richard Rohr shares, “One great idea of the biblical revelation is that God is manifest in the ordinary, in the actual, in the daily, in the now, in the concrete incarnations of life, and not through purity codes and moral achievement contests, which are seldom achieved anyway.”  The underlying, ancient wisdoms of the Bible continue to encourage modern humanity to seek and discover the grace, love and beauty of a God yearning for open connection with creation in all forms.

In what ways are you currently practicing in order to discover how God’s presence is consistently with you during celebrations and challenges and within moments along your journey, whether past, present or in dreams for your future? Will you consider spiritual direction to accompany you along your mysterious invitations?

Mary Hally enjoys accompanying individuals of all ages to build an inner confidence through their own creative ways of connecting and discovering invitations from God within their days. Her own experiences of encountering the Holy in our midst inform Mary’s gift for helping others recognize the possibility of divine presence both in beauty and in life’s challenges. She completed the two-year Spiritual Direction Practicum program at Mercy by the Sea.