Rev. Stefanie Hayes, pastor at Grace UMC in Hastings, NE, writes the second in a series of blog posts of clergy testimonies about Spiritual Direction. The Office of Clergy Excellence is sharing some resources—including grants—about Spiritual Direction and Soul Care.
Spiritual Direction, how to describe it? I have sat in front of my iPad for literally over an hour typing, deleting, typing, and deleting to find the “right” words and the “right” way to express things. But here’s the thing: there are no “right” words, because everyone’s experience with Spiritual Direction is as unique as we are. Spiritual Direction isn’t about right or wrong, but about you and how it is with your soul.
If grace flows through our being like veins of gold in a mountain side, Spiritual Direction taps directly into that gold, gently guiding us along it until we come face to face with the image of God in which we are made. A spiritual director is like a companion on a holy inner pilgrimage and Spiritual Direction involves a cycle of questions and listening. Intentional, intuitive, and reflective questions. Deep listening to both human words and the movement of divinity within those words.
I love coaching and therapy. Both have been and are a part of my life and Spiritual Direction serves a third purpose. If coaching helped me express my theology, set boundaries, and prioritize time to write my ordination paperwork, then Spiritual Direction helped me love my voice, love my theology, and go through my interviews anchored in the wellspring of God’s grace and love. If therapy helps me recognize the warning signs of when I am stressed out or in an unhealthy state, then Spiritual Direction gently addresses the stress, helps me discern how God is present, and guides me to listen for what words God is speaking into that stress.
Is Spiritual Direction for everyone? Maybe not, but Spiritual Direction nourishes and nurtures a part of me that had been hungry for longer than I realized. It can help you move towards greater love of God and self, towards fuller alignment with God’s movement, and towards deeper awareness of God’s presence. Spiritual Direction is a powerful and grace-filled companion on the journey of discipleship and abundant life.