“Spiritual direction explores a deeper relationship with the spiritual aspect of being human. Simply put, spiritual direction is helping people tell their sacred stories everyday.”
~ Liz Budd Ellmann, Spiritual Directors International
Our Director of Spiritual Formation, Karen Richter, trained as a Spiritual Director at the Hesychia School of Spiritual Direction in Tucson, AZ in 2016. Her practice of Spiritual Direction employs the evocative method of direction, which primarily involves deep listening. In a session of direction, the director holds sacred space in which the person seeking direction and the Spirit do the work of growth and discernment. In other words, there’s not a lot of ‘direction,’ but instead both director and seeker direct their attention to the movement of the Spirit.
Just like other programs and activities at Shadow Rock, spiritual direction is open to LGBTQ+ persons and to persons from any faith tradition. Curious? Click around Spiritual Directors International for more information. To get started exploring Spiritual Direction with an introductory conversation, email Karen.
Spiritual Direction FAQs
What is a Spiritual Director?
A Spiritual Director is a trusted companion who supports individual or group spiritual formation and transformation. Over many generations and traditions, many names have described this role including spiritual guide, spiritual companion, spiritual accompanier, and soul friend. Spiritual director is an umbrella term that describes a role of accompanying an individual while both participants listen for the true Director: God, Spirit or Ultimate Reality.
A metaphor or analogy might be helpful in getting a feel for spiritual direction: if moving from childhood to adulthood is ‘growing up,’ then spiritual direction can be considered ‘growing down,’ a means through which a seeker explores their inner life more deeply.
What is Spiritual Direction?
Like many things, it’s useful to start by talking about what spiritual direction is NOT:
Spiritual direction is not counseling.
Spiritual direction is not therapy.
Spiritual direction is not vocational coaching.
Like psychotherapy, it is often offered as a one-to-one or group experience in private sessions with spiritual mentors who have most likely completed formation and training for the ministry and service of spiritual direction. Unlike psychotherapy, there is no problem to be solved in spiritual direction. The person seeking direction is “in charge” of what and how to share. Spiritual direction includes God, Spirit or Ultimate Reality as a third partner in the process.
What does a typical session of spiritual direction look like?
Maybe something like this fictional scenario:
Phyllis enters the side door of her church and walks into a small office. She meets her spiritual director, Joan, about every other month. In the room is a small table with 3 chairs placed around it. After a brief casual conversation between Phyllis and Joan, they sit down. Joan lights a candle and invites Phyllis into a brief time of silence.
“Take as much time in silence as you need today,” she says. “When you’re ready, just start talking. I’ll be interested to hear what’s going on for you and how you’ve experienced the Spirit since our last session.” After a few deep breaths – maybe 3 minutes go by – Phyllis begins talking about her upcoming decision about retiring from a job she loves.
Joan mostly just listens, but she occasionally asks a short question or repeats a word or phrase that Phyllis has used. The two women lapse into silence once or twice more as the hour ticks by. Sometimes as they talk, Phyllis comes to a realization or insight, but not always. After 50 minutes or so, Joan offers a prayer of blessing for Phyllis’ journey. She chooses words for God that are familiar to Phyllis. Phyllis leaves feeling affirmed and strengthened.
In what kinds of life situations might a person seek spiritual direction?
A college student begins thinking about seminary.
An empty-nester feels a vague dissatisfaction about their faith journey.
A person in therapy for anxiety and depression needs a safe place to talk about their spiritual practices.
A “spiritual but not religious” woman is raising a child on her own.
A career-oriented executive is beginning to look at retirement and vocation.
The situations of our lives are diverse and can prompt deeper examination of our values and our sense of purpose. Any of these situations – and countless more – can be explored safety and confidentially in spiritual direction.
Contact Spiritual Director Karen Richter:
Shadow Rock United Church of Christ
12861 N. 8th Avenue | Phoenix, AZ 85029
Rev. Ken Heintzelman, Senior Minister
Church Office Hours:
Monday-Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.