This weekend, I am attending the Spiritual Director’s International Conference as a New Contemplative. The New Contemplative Initiative celebrates new spiritual directors under the age of 40. I am honored to be part of this small group of new contemplatives this year to learn from them and with them. More importantly, I am excited to be part of this group because we have an opportunity to speak to the larger group of spiritual directors at the conference.
The most important thing I want to share at this conference is the hunger I see in men and women my age for people to journey with them. In my retreat work to and with young adults this hunger is extremely apparent. Men and women my age are bombarded with information, with technology, with online communities. However, the thing that is often lacking in their lives are real, meaningful relationships with people who will walk with them and help them unpack the complexity of their lives. There is major opportunity for spiritual directors to step in to fill this role for men and women in their 20s and 30s. Spiritual directors are holy listeners and they help people unpack their lives, seek where God is active in their lives, and discern God’s will for them.
I became a spiritual director because of my retreat work that involved forming teams of young adults to give retreats. What began as a process to prepare a talk turned into relationships with my peers as they explored the deeper questions of life and their faith. I drank a ton of coffee with them listening to them and hearing the Sacred Stories of their lives.
There came a point when I knew needed more tools, and I wanted to learn from the experts in how to be a holy listener. I turned to the Jesuits and one of their spiritual direction programs to arm me with knowledge, experience, and tools. The two-year program was one of the most exciting and challenging processes I have ever experienced.
Spiritual Direction is a call I am still leaning into. It is a life-giving ministry, and it challenges me deeply. I am overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation to attend the Spiritual Director’s International Conference. I have much to learn, and I look forward to sharing the graces of my experience with you!