In the words of our Director Emeritus Don Grayston:
Because spiritual direction (by whatever name we may use – spiritual companioning, spiritual guidance, soulfriending) is exploding out of the box of its traditional one-to-one model. This is not to say that this model is not valuable; its value has been experienced times beyond number, and we continue to encourage its practice.
But in addition to this traditional model of direction, we are seeing a huge increase in the hunger for and the availability of compassionate listening and the practice of presence in so many new contexts: hospice, chaplaincy, the workplace, youth activity, AA and other 12-step programs.
And how can we tell that real soulfriending is taking place in these new contexts? If they include openness to Presence, discernment, awareness of the many dimensions of the spiritual journey, and the telling and hearing of each other’s sacred stories. Beyond this, in offering compassionate listening, one shares in and offers a divine activity. One listens for, in and with the Divine Listener, who offers in the present moment the wholeness we as humans seek. The day on which wholeness/salvation/fullness of life is offered to us is none other than today, the now of our living, the today in which time and eternity intersect, the only today we have. As the song says, “Now is the time, / here is the place, / and this is holy ground.”
And why challenging?
Because we live in a culture of fear, even for some, despair—and this, in North America, in the midst of unprecedented prosperity—for some. Because the political and economic paradigms are shifting under our feet. Because we are hearing and seeing predictions of catastrophe which we often do not know whether or not to believe or accept. Because so many of our old certainties and institutional loyalties have withered or dried up on us. Because the journey to fullness of life includes the necessity of finding courage for the descent into the depths and the ascent to new heights. Because this descent and ascent carries with it responsibility and accountability.
At this time of millennial change, spiritual direction/soulfriending offers to many of us a way both ancient and contemporary of re-grounding and renewing ourselves as people of Spirit, as pilgrims on a journey, as discerners of God’s presence and call.