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[IPr] FW: [IP] Trained Spritual Director

Dear friends --

The second post.

Jim Handsfield

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Handsfield, James H. 
> Sent: Wednesday, December 20, 2000 12:37 PM
> To: 'email @ redacted'
> Subject: RE: [IP] Trained Spritual Director
> Bonnie Richardson [mailto:email @ redacted] wrote:
> > Hey Jim, 
> > Would you enlighten me on what this means?  What training, by 
> > whom, what do
> > you do?  How do you direct?  What exactly does that job title 
> > do?  and How
> > do you get to be one. 
> Well, here's a brief answer: 
> A spiritual director in the most general sense can be just 
> about anyone who can help another person with his/her 
> spiritual life.  At the simplest level, it can simply be 
> someone who one trusts and who will be honest in the 
> interaction about a relationship with God.  At the most 
> complex, it is someone with considerable education in 
> theology, psychology, psychiatry, sociology, etc.  Those are 
> the two extremes . . . I fall in the middle in that I have a 
> good education in theology and spirituality (I can discuss 
> that another time if anyone's interested), and I completed an 
> intensive program in direction from the Pastoral Studies 
> Institute, now housed at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 
> Atlanta, under the direction of Fr. John Westerhoff, formerly 
> a professor of theology and pastoral care at Duke, Fordham, 
> and Harvard Universities.
> Outwardly, a relationship with a spiritual director looks 
> much the same as the relationship with a pastoral counselor 
> or therapist.  And the interactions are similar as well.  
> There are two fundamental and critical differences.  First, 
> spiritual direction is not about solving problems, 
> particularly if those problems involve interpersonal 
> relationships.  That would be practicing therapy or 
> counseling, and usually requires a license to do so.  Second 
> difference is more intangible.  In a counseling or therapy 
> session, the counselor and client have a conversation, and if 
> it's pastoral counseling, it includes the intention that it 
> takes place in the presence of God.  In spiritual direction, 
> it's really more the directee and God having a conversation 
> in the presence of the director, with the intention (and 
> assumption) that God will use the director to speak to the 
> directee.  Ultimately, the real director is God, not the 
> human person sitting across from the directee.
> Spiritual direction is an ancient ministry which was first 
> attributed (at least in Christian times) to St. Anthony of 
> Egypt, and developed by the Desert Fathers of the Egyptian 
> desert around the Fourth Century.  For most of the time 
> since, spiritual direction has had most of its expression in 
> monasteries and convents.  It's generally considered 
> essential for those called to the deeper contemplative life, 
> whether as a religious or not, and probably useful to anyone 
> who is seeking a deeper relationship with God.
> As you might guess, it would be very easy for a spiritual 
> director to insert his or her own biases and prejudices into 
> such a relationship, which is why one needs to be careful in 
> selecting a spiritual director.  Both the director and 
> directee must be careful to prepare themselves, and to 
> intentionally build the trust necessary for such a 
> relationship to be fruitful.  That's also why it's not a 
> highly publicized ministry.  
> I guess it wasn't quite a short as I planned.  8-)
> Jim Handsfield
> mailto:email @ redacted OR
> mailto:email @ redacted
> The opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily 
> represent those of my wife who runs this house and makes more 
> important decisions than I do.
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