Welcome to the new series: Spiritual Direction: Why I Make Time For It. I’ve invited four people who are not spiritual directors, to share what spiritual direction has meant to them in their own lives, why they have made seeing a spiritual director a priority, and the impact it has had. I know you will enjoy reading the words of the men and women who will share with us. This week, we hear from my dear husband, Chris Eldredge.
Spiritual direction has been part of my life, off and on, for the past eighteen years. I first met with a spiritual director during a Busy Person’s Retreat while attending college. I met with Fr. Marvin Kitten, SJ, each day for four days, and experienced for the first time something I’ve come to value and treasure as an essential piece of my faith journey. It wasn’t until a few years later that I had what I would call a long-term relationship with a spiritual director.
My experience of direction has evolved greatly over the years. At first – I feel like I tried to overprepare for the meeting…like I needed to come in with “something to talk about” or an agenda for the discussion. So, as the meetings drew near I tried hard to prepare answers for the questions I knew were coming – “How has your prayer been?” “How’s your relationship with God?”
At a glance these may seem like easy questions to answer. Meeting with a spiritual director wasn’t always easy because I wasn’t always able to come to these meetings prepared to discuss my prayer life. But eventually, I learned and came to realize that these men and women I was meeting with were simply there to listen. It wasn’t about accomplishing anything or ensuring that I had “succeeded” in praying correctly. Over time I came to realize that it was easy to have something to talk about – as long as I was coming to prayer regularly. My spiritual directors have encouraged me to remain in prayer with God daily, even when it feels hard to do. Their regular presence in my life has helped me stay true to this practice.
I make time for spiritual direction on a regular basis now because I treasure the ability to talk to another person about my experience of prayer, about how and where I encounter Christ in my daily life, and where I’m encountering moments of desolation. Having this trusted person to speak to helps me process what I’m experiencing not just in my prayer, but in the midst of my daily life. I have learned countless practical methods for prayer, and through deep discussion about my prayer and relationship with God, I’ve gotten tremendous direction about how to pray, what to bring to prayer, and what to look for in my daily interactions. As an example, when I shared with my director that some mornings I am distracted in prayer, thinking ahead to my schedule and busy agenda, he told me “Bring your calendar to prayer with you. Look over it with God. Ask him to provide the graces you need in each of those meetings.” This practical wisdom immediately paid off – both in terms of deeper prayer, as well as in terms of managing a stressful day.
Over time, in meeting with someone consistently, I find that they can also help remind me of where I’ve been over time. In the midst of daily chaos and busyness, it’s easy to zero in on what’s happening right in front of us, what just happened, and what is coming up. In bringing my prayer and daily encounters with God to this trusted companion, they can gently remind me of where and when I’ve experienced similar feelings in my past. While it’s very comforting to know that God desires a relationship with me, it’s also very comforting to know that there are people around us who can gently remind us of the movements of our own lives. During times of my life where spiritual direction hasn’t been a regular occurrence, prayer wasn’t as deep as it is now. The themes of my life weren’t readily apparent. And the movements I experience from moment to moment, day to day, and week to week all felt isolated and disconnected.
Online Busy Person’s Retreat
- Chris mentions a Busy Person’s retreat as his first experience with spiritual direction. This is your chance! If you are drawn to try spiritual direction or would like to try to ease of meeting online with a trained spiritual director, the Online Busy Person’s Retreat is great for you!
- The online retreat is four days, September 23-26, of one-on-one spiritual direction via videoconference. Select the one-hour time slot you’re available each day and you will be auotmatically matched with a director.
- Need a retreat but also need to be with your family? The Online Busy Person’s Retreat is the personalized retreat that comes to you!
Go Deeper: Spiritual Direction
- Read: What is Spiritual Direction
- Read last week’s post in the “Why I Make Time Fot It” series by Kathy.
- Read: Looking for Answers: What Might Draw You To Spiritual Direction
- Watch video: What to Expect from Spiritual Direction
- Video: Becky about spiritual direction and her path as a spiritual director
How do I find a spiritual director?
- Watch video: How to find a spiritual director
- Step 1: Ask around and let people know you are looking for one.
- Step 2: Look for religious orders in your area. Often, they have people assigned to the ministry of spiritual direction.
- Step 3: Finally, check out Spiritual Director’s International Seek and Find Guide. Here, you can search online for your city, state, spiritual affiliation, etc.
Cultivating Space for God Together:
- Septemeber 23-36: Registration for the Online Busy Person’s Retreat, the retreat that comes to you with one-on-one online spiritual direction, September 23-26, is NOW OPEN! Find out more here.
- September 3-6: Lay Ecclesial Ministers & Deacons Retreat, Diocese of Jackson, LA
- October 17: Ignatian Spirituality Course at Immaculate Conception in Denham Springs (October 17, 24; November 7, 14)
- Sign up for my Prayer Team and pledge to pray for the weekly prayer requests posted on my Facebook & Instagram, and for the attendees of upcoming events. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.