What is Spiritual Direction?
“Spiritual direction explores a deeper relationship with the spiritual aspect of being human. Simply put, spiritual direction is helping people tell their sacred stories everyday.
Spiritual direction has emerged in many contexts using language specific to particular cultural and spiritual traditions. Describing spiritual direction requires putting words to a process of fostering a transcendent experience that lies beyond all names and yet the experience longs to be articulated and made concrete in everyday living. It is easier to describe what spiritual direction does than what spiritual direction is. Our role is not to define spiritual direction, but to describe the experience.
Spiritual direction helps us learn how to live in peace, with compassion, promoting justice, as humble servants of that which lies beyond all names.”
—Liz Budd Ellmann, MDiv, former Executive Director, Spiritual Directors International
It’s hard to define spiritual direction without being poetic. It is, after all, a look at the big picture… the really big picture, of our lives. But let’s see if we can make it more concrete.
A spiritual direction relationship is a place for you to create an intentional companionship with a trained director, in order to approach and explore your ideas, feelings, and experience with your Higher Power, YHWH, Divine Mystery, Allah, The Cosmos, God… whatever language makes sense to you.
“Direction” sounds like a place to get instructed, or guided… As Liz describes though, it’s more of a place to set your own path. A director isn’t there to point for you, but rather to help you discover your own compass. A spiritual director is trained to listen, to clarify, to gently challenge, and nurture your curiosity and practice as you question, struggle and celebrate your Big Picture moments. (And sure, they are known to drop some wisdom when the time is right.)
The Gifts of Spiritual Direction
Spiritual Directors International describes the reasons to seek direction, or the gifts, as:
- Identify and trust your own spiritual experiences
- Integrate spirituality into your daily life
- Discern and make difficult choices
- Share your hopes, struggles and losses
- Develop a sensitivity for justice, and concern for the poor
- Live the essence of your spiritual affiliation with integrity
What Happens in Spiritual Direction?
You will usually meet with your director for about an hour, once a month. In the initial introduction, your director will learn what language and perspective feels right for you; they want to meet you where you’re at.
Some directors work out of a place of worship, some have offices, some work out of a special space in their home. They will always make sure you have privacy and comfort to speak deeply.
Depending on what the two of you agree upon, your director may begin and/or end with a prayer or ritual to create a sense of sacred space, and honor your time together. Some directors commit to holding their directees in prayer or thought during the times they are apart. Some will suggest “homework,” books to read, or practices to try, in between sessions. Many directors will encourage you to have a daily practice of your own to keep your spiritual life present and vibrant.
Some directors or organizations offer group spiritual direction. This is an opportunity for you to journey with others, sharing your experiences and discernment processes, and using creative ways to explore meaning together.
How Do I Get Started?
It’s easy! Care and Counseling Center of Georgia offers spiritual direction at our Decatur location.
Debonee Morgan is certified by Stillpoint: Center for Spiritual Development, and is a graduate of the inaugural cohort of Richard Rohr’s Living School and a member of Spiritual Directors International (SDI). She is also a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, specializing with the LGBTQ+ community, addiction recovery and depression, and integrating spirituality in treatment.
Debonee has spoken for SDI, The Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta, Georgia Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, Atlanta PFLAG and others, addressing topics that support diversity in identities and practices. She is passionate about giving voice to those outside the bounds of traditional church experience. After her presentation on “LGBTQ+ Inclusivity,” SDI asked Debonee to join a conversation on the importance of diversity in spiritual direction. View it here.
Debonee values authenticity, and strives to model honest questioning and doubting, alongside hope and trust. “There is room for all of it—the cosmos is a big mysterious place. And the Universe is always conspiring in your favor.” When she’s not with clients, she can found sitting quietly in her own contemplative practice, or sipping whiskey at a loud rock & roll show.
Please call Debonee at (404) 636-1457 ext. 500 to discuss availability and rates.
How Do I Become A Spiritual Director?
Care and Counseling Center of Georgia is excited to announce our development of a new training and certificate program for spiritual directors. Launching September of 2017, the three-year program will take students through their own exploration process in group direction, followed by a year of academic study, and a year of applied practicum under supervision. You will commit to one Saturday a month, with moderate remote learning and study in between. Students will participate in their own spiritual direction relationship throughout the program. Completing the program will earn your certification to begin work as a director.