It is an ongoing conversation we hold with a trusted spiritual director who is committed to bearing witness to our path. Our devotion to this companionship forms us in the practice of deep or holy listening and exploration of the ways in which the Sacred shows up in our busy lives.

By “the Sacred” we mean a sense of oneness or the interconnectedness of all things. In particular the Sacred can be the human awareness of something that exists beyond all names. On a more finite level spiritual direction can provide a way to discover what Thomas Merton called the true Self.

One does not need to identify as spiritual or religious to experience a longing for something deeper; a desire to understand or find meaning in one’s life, and a search for ways to live authentically. The language we use to describe a sense of disconnection or floundering, a loss of hope and imagination, does not have to be “spiritual.”

We all know when we feel stuck and our usual remedies and tools for living just aren’t working. If we are wise we seek guidance to help us re-envision our life. Sometimes we seek a teacher. Sometimes we seek a listener. Sometimes we seek a companion. A spiritual director embodies all three qualities.

Throughout human history individuals have sought the counsel of another. Each of the major faith traditions speaks of this relationship. In Buddhism the teacher of Dharma, or mentor, is called acariya or kalyanamitta. In Judaism the spiritual mentor is called Mashpia. In Christianity, Spiritual Direction emerged out of the deserts of Egypt, Palestine, Arabia and Persia. In the first century A.D., individuals known as the Desert Fathers and Mothers removed themselves from the chaos of the cities, seeking community with kindred spirits in solitude. They understood the inherent need for the ongoing guidance of Spirit.  And we need only to read the words of the Sufi mystic Rumi to recognize the long tradition in Islam of seeking inspiration, guidance and support. Rumi writes: “whoever travels without a guide needs two hundred years for a two-day journey.” We cannot do this life alone.

This is an invitation to come as you are. Everyone is welcome.

From “Wild Geese”

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves…

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

© Mary Oliver

from Dream Work by Mary Oliver

published by Atlantic Monthly Press