Spiritual direction is a classic practice of the Church that has its roots in ancient monastic communities. However, the basis for spiritual direction is rooted in the biblical witness. The relationship between spiritual director and spiritual pilgrim can be best understood from two biblical images from the Gospel of John. In John 14:23, Jesus states, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” Furthermore, in John 14-16, Jesus speaks about the work of the paraclete who is to come. This is the Holy Spirit and paraclete is a Greek word that literally means “to come/walk alongside.” Thus, the spiritual director is someone who journeys alongside a spiritual pilgrim to assist them in establishing a spiritual home in Christ.
As an introduction to Spiritual Direction, I offer a ten-session process called self-tabernacling. Below are some details about what is expected of those who take part in this process, what spiritual direction is, and what spiritual direction is not.
- To commit to meeting with me, one-on-one, for spiritual direction for 90 minutes once a month for nine months.
- To be willing to learn and explore the depths of the life of spiritual formation in Christ.
- To commit to confidentiality between spiritual director and spiritual pilgrim.
- To commit to engaging weekly with the Word and Spirit Guide (available at www.thewordandspirit.org).
- To commit to regular Bible study, prayer, and spiritual reflection, both in and outside of formal spiritual direction settings.
WHAT SPIRITUAL DIRECTION IS:
- An opportunity to build your life into a “tabernacle” of God’s presence.
- An opportunity to grow in your faith and grow closer to God.
- An opportunity to learn more about yourself and how you relate to God.
- An invitation to grace and to a renewed daily life of intimacy with God.
WHAT SPIRITUAL DIRECTION IS NOT:
- Therapy or counseling.
- An informal “gab” session.
- A light or trivial commitment.
The schedule for this cycle of spiritual direction is as follows:
Session 1 – Building a Home of Shalom: Biblical Images of Home Building and the Process of Self-Tabernacling
We will explore the foundations of the practice of spiritual direction and the relationship between spiritual director and spiritual pilgrim. Particular attention will be given to the images of home-building or “tabernacling” that appear in Scripture. The spiritual pilgrim will begin the process of opening up him/herself to the work of being personally made into a tabernacle of God’s presence in seven ways of being: soul, heart, will, mind, body, relationships, and spirit.
Session 2 – Soul Home: Testimony
We will explore how we connect to God through our Christian experience. Particular attention will be given to how we construct a tabernacle of God’s presence at the very core of our being. This process will include giving expression to our own testimony to God’s work and presence in our past and present. This will enable us to better understand God’s work and presence in our future.
Session 3 – Heart Home: Confession
We will begin to explore how we connect to God through our affect/emotions/feelings. Particular attention will be given to how we construct a tabernacle of God’s presence within our hearts. This process will include confessing and exploring our iniquities, infirmities, and injustices, experiencing how God responds to us each individually in specific manifestations of grace.
Session 4 – Will Home: Affirmation
We will continue to explore how we connect to God through our core convictions and our acts of the will. Particular attention will be given to how we construct a tabernacle of God’s presence through our decision making and assent. This process will include determining and exploring our foundational beliefs and forming a personal affirmation of faith.
Session 5 – Mind Home: Understanding
We will explore how we connect to God through our understanding and cognitive faculties. Particular attention will be given to how we construct a tabernacle of God’s presence within our minds. This process will include determining and examining our predominant “theological world” with the help of W. Paul Jones’s book Theological Worlds: Understanding the Alternative Rhythms of Christian Belief. In this stage we will be utilizing Jones’s Theological Worlds Inventory.
Session 6 – Body Home: Practice
We will explore how we connect to God through our lived Christian practice. Particular attention will be given to how we engage in the Christian disciplines, such as prayer, meditation, worship, etc. This process will include discovering those practical rhythms that we can live out in our daily lives and through which we connect to God. This will enable us to better understand what works for us personally and what does not within the framework of Christian practice.
Session 7 – Relationship Home: Connections
We will explore how we connect to others: family, friends, acquaintances, strangers. We will examine our personal connections through familial and non-familial genograms. Particular attention will be given to how share our personal experience with others. This will enable us to better connect to those we are called to love.
Session 8 – Spirit Home: Images of God
We will explore how we connect to God through the experience of the holy and transcendent. Particular attention will be given to how we imagine/picture God. This process will include exploring different metaphors and images for God that are found in Scripture. This will enable us to better relate to the invisible God.
Session 9 – My Home of Shalom Constructed
We will examine the tabernacle/home as a whole, uniting the different elements of soul, heart, mind, and strength. Particular attention will be given to how the Word and Spirit can be engaged in the context of the spiritual home and to how the spiritual home will allow the pilgrim to self-tabernacle (make him/herself continuously available as a mobile temple of God’s presence in whatever context the pilgrim finds him/herself). The spiritual director and spiritual pilgrim will develop a plan for continued spiritual direction.
Session 10 – Spiritual Hospitality
We will examine how the tabernacle/home becomes a setting in which the pilgrim fulfills the call of Christ to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). Particular attention will be given to opening the tabernacle/home of the pilgrim to others in self-giving hospitality. We will explore both the implications of self-tabernacling and ongoing opportunities to “tabernacle among” others (John 1:14).