FEEDBACK ON THE MINISTRY OF SPIRITUAL DIRECTION IN THE PARISH
The ministry of Spiritual Direction was launched last year July after consultation and with the blessing of Fr Zaba. It has had “mustard-seed” proportions – few in number, and regular about-monthly meetings, and hopefully wonderful growth. Here are a few reflections on the experience which may, perhaps, encourage more parishioners to “Come, and see!”
This high-sounding ministry to fellow parishioners is thoroughly grounded in the ordinariness of their everyday life – in that which gels, gives them joy and invigorates; in the demands and stresses and, sometimes, crises of their lives; and in their own specialness. Spiritual Direction is primarily the accompaniment of the person on their unique journey within the great Mystery of Life, whom we call the Lord, and “in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
One main focus of this accompaniment is being alongside the person in their wrestling with the conflicts and irreconcilable realities of their daily life. There are parts of our lives which jar with each other – our emotions, our conscience, our thinking. There are parts of our lives which jar with our sense of what the Lord is calling us into being. Richard Rohr, a renowned spiritual writer and Franciscan priest, says that ‘…our journeys around and through our realities, or ‘circumferences’, lead us to the core reality, where we meet both our truest self and our truest God’; and again, when we ….‘live and fully accept our reality’ …at the edges of our life that we connect to the essence of our lives (Everything Belongs).
This is particularly poignant in the experience of the sometimes presence of the Lord; of the sometimes hiddenness of the Lord; and sometimes absence of the Lord in the complexities of our lives. The Song of Solomon expresses this theme of the searching, the finding, the not finding, and, again, the seeking for the Lord which we experience on our journey as Pilgrim Persons and Pilgrim People.
Accompaniment means the striving to remain alongside the person in attentive, non-judgemental listening on their journey – neither running ahead nor falling behind. It also means striving to be aware of the Spirit in the encounter; to be an open vessel and mediator of the Spirit; to get the egoistic self out of the way of the Spirit who blows where s/he wills both during and outside this privileged encounter.
The other main focus of this accompaniment is the exploring and encouragement of the person to create a personal space in the busy-ness and noise-filled of our modern lives, to create a ‘rhythm of life’, in which the person can be receptive to the loving Presence of the Living God. It is in the finding those practices of ‘centering’ or ‘clearing’ that the person becomes receptive to the ever-beckoning Mystery, whether this is in Centering Prayer, meditating the decades of the Rosary, Lectio Divina, or mindfulness. Thich Nhat Hahn, a Buddhist monk and teacher, describes the process of clearing like the settling out of the clear juice from the pulp at the surface in a glass of fruit juice (The Essential Writings – Present Moment Wonderful Moment). These disciplined practices become the refreshing moments to which we return as to our centre during the rest of the day as the Angelus or the phone or the cell phone can remind.
It has been wonderful to see the fruits of this accompaniment:
• the quieting of the restlessness and the agitation, and in the steadying of the wavering compass-point in the person’s personal sense of direction
• in the greater interiority and meaningful experience of life, and
• in a fuller, closer, and more intimate/ and more real experience of the Lord in the whole of their life
So, perhaps you too would like to “Come, and see!”
For more information or referral, contact Fr Zaba (033 343 3231) or Dave Geber (0823384044). Dave Gebe