Spiritual Direction

Spiritual Direction

What is spiritual direction?

Spiritual direction is an ongoing relationship in which an individual, with the support of a spiritual director, grows deeper in the awareness of the Spirit’s presence in their life.

Usually meeting once a month for an hour, the spiritual director is a fellow listener. The focus of each session is the directee’s experience of the Spirit in all aspects of their life–even in areas that might not, on initial reflection, have much to do with the Spirit at all.

Spiritual direction can also be a group process. In group spiritual direction, a group gathers regularly and each member of the group functions, in part, as spiritual directors for one another under the facilitation of a trained spiritual director.

The Christian tradition of spiritual direction dates back to the desert mothers and fathers of the 3rd and 4th centuries. These wise ones lived lives of solitude and received may visitors who sought insight about faithful living in the midst of Empire.

There have, since then, been a number of different traditions of spiritual direction. And, of course, there are non-Christian traditions as well.

Why should I consider meeting with a spiritual director?

Do you long for a deeper connection to God? Many folks find spiritual direction helpful in exploring a deeper relationship with God. A good spiritual director will help you pay attention to things you might not other wise notice in your relationship with God.

Do you want to develop or deepen practices of prayer or meditation? Spiritual directors are trained in a number of spiritual practices and can help you find life-giving practices to either integrate into your daily rhythm or to help you in a time of transition.

Do you need help discerning what’s next? Ultimately, spiritual directors exist to help you discern God’s presence. When you’re feeling stuck, or feeling stirred to respond to God’s calling in some way, it can be helpful to engage in discernment practices with a trained director.

What is it like to meet with a spiritual director?

The word director can be misleading. The posture of a good spiritual director is one of listening and asking questions that open up space for the directee to notice the ways that God is or is not present in their life. In fact, the Spirit is the real director; the spiritual director is more of an observer, companion, or discerner.

A good spiritual director is a good listener. They welcome moments of silence because they realize that silence is full of God’s presence.

Nevertheless, every spiritual director is different. The combination of training, personality, and experience varies. It is important to find a director whose personality and approach fits who you are and what you hope to find.

Why might I want to meet with you in particular?

I come to the vocation of spiritual director as an activist and radical. My interest in spiritual direction grew out of my experience as the founder of the Mennonite Worker, an intentional community affiliated with the Mennonite Church USA that is rooted in the tradition of the Catholic Worker. I am particularly interested in the intersections of spiritual formation, social justice, and creativity. Because of the emphases of my own research, experiences, and interests, I bring insights that may be helpful to activists as well as those who find themselves in the fringes of faith.

That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t be of service to those who don’t fit that description. Rather, my experience helps me notice things that other spiritual directors may not understand or might miss.

I am not a trained psychotherapist, but I have done formal and informal research into Jungian psychotherapy, ecopsychology, and other forms of depth psychology.

My research equips me to help directees engage in dreamwork, use of ritual, wilderness practice, engagement with archetype and shadow, and more as part of their spiritual journey.

How does spiritual direction differ from counseling?

Generally speaking, the focus of therapy or counselling is to help clients work on thoughts, emotions, or behaviors that negatively affect one’s life or relationships.

Unlike counselling, spiritual direction can be a long-term process and doesn’t exist to correct a problem so much as to help people experience the presence of God more deeply. Often, spiritual direction can feel like psychotherapy, but the focus of direction is always the directee’s spiritual journey.

There can be some overlaps, however. Some people find it helpful to see a therapist to discern the big questions in their life. However, the approaches of a therapist and a spiritual director will vary greatly in helping someone explore “what is my purpose?”

What kind of training have you received?

I studied Spiritual Direction at St. Catherine University in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

I am a graduate of Bethel Theological Seminary where I graduated with a Masters in Divinity with a Concentration in Christian Thought.

Apart from formal training, I received a grant from the Louisville Foundation to research and develop a spiritual formation process that intersects with radical political action. Part of my research included training from the Animas Valley Institute, which offers multi-day wilderness immersions to facilitate encounters with soul.

I meet with an experienced supervisor to continue my growth and health in the ministry of spiritual direction.

Additionally, I am a member of Spiritual Directors International, the international organizing body for spiritual directors, which provides me with ongoing education and resources to support my work as a spiritual director.

Is this only for Christians?

No. My approach is rooted in the Christian tradition, but I believe all people of any faith tradition (or no faith tradition) can benefit from spiritual direction so long as they are open to seriously asking “in what ways is the Spirit present in my life?”

How often and where do we meet for sessions?

It is perhaps most common to meet monthly, though meeting more often is a possibility. Though I’d prefer to meet with directees at my office in South Minneapolis, I am open to making alternative arrangements. If you don’t live in the Twin Cities, I am willing to meet via skype (or a comparable video-based service) on a limited basis. I am not, however, comfortable engaging in spiritual direction over the phone.

How much does it cost?

The cost varies from director to director. As a small way of challenging class privileges, I offer a sliding scale. I have endeavored to set my suggested rates as affordably as possible.

Keep in mind, these are only guidelines; individual income isn’t the sole indicator of wealth or capacity.

If you make more than $75,000 a year, I suggest a rate of $75-$100 per session. 

If you make between $45,000 and $75,000 a year, I suggest a rate of $50-$75 per session. 

If you make between $25,000 and $45,000 a year, I suggest a rate of $50 per session. 

If you make less than $25,000 a year, I suggest $40 a session. 

If you cannot afford the lowest rate, I am happy to make special arrangements. And if you are someone with extra discretionary income, please consider giving more so that I am able to offer spiritual direction to those with limited means.

How do I get started?

If you have any more questions, contact me.