Spiritual direction is a terrible description of a service that has more to do with listening than guiding. The hallmark of a good “director” is the ability to notice what is happening in another person’s relationship to the divine, to call attention to it, and to observe what happens as they both enter more deeply into that territory. The Christian mystical tradition has developed its own body of wisdom around how to do this, in the Desert Fathers and Mothers of early Christianity, the more developed Eastern Orthodox tradition of perichoresis and divinization, Ignatian spirituality in the West, and less mainstream forms of both Eastern and Western churches (such as the Palamite thinking in the East and pseudo-Dionysius in the West). After the Reformation came Protestant forms of spiritual discernment in spiritual reading groups and more mystical practices among Quaker and Mennonite circles in the Radical Reformation. All of these practices carry rich theological insight – but they are primarily about practices that deepen our direct experience of God, rather than just our thinking about God.
Church often focuses on doctrine or service. Direction focuses on a direct experience of God.
Church often focuses on language and liturgy. Direction focuses on silence and stillness.
Church often focuses on believing and doing. Direction focuses on being and beholding
Church often focuses prayers on how we want God to act for us, on intercession. Direction focuses on prayers of how we want God to be with us, on intimacy.
Church often focuses on how God wants to change the world, through us. Direction focuses on how God is already at work in the world, through all of creation.
I can’t arrange a meeting with God. No human being can. But I can walk alongside you, listening with you and noticing when we see God acting and what we observe in your reactions, so that your intimacy grows together with your intentionality.