An old wooden door, metaphor for seeking

The Call of Spiritual Direction

by Joan Bowers, Companion, New Hampshire/Vermont Chapter

The Call of Spiritual Direction

``Being a spiritual director is both deeply humbling and quietly gratifying since our culture provides very few opportunities (even in churches) for people to have confidential, in-depth conversations about their spiritual lives.``

Sometimes the “changes and chances of this life,” instead of wearing us down, present us with something life-giving instead.

Which is how I found myself drawn to spiritual direction.

There I was, at the Redemptorist Renewal Center near Tucson, AZ, eager to enjoy my first SCHC Spring Conference, yet almost everything that could go wrong had done so.

Airplane mechanical problems had prevented my arriving in time to take a pre-conference trip with Border Links to Nogales, Mexico.

A blizzard then took aim at Chicago where I would need to change planes to return to my teaching position in New Hampshire after the conference.

I felt as if I were spending every spare minute re-scheduling flights.

Nevertheless, in the midst of all this, I found myself drawn to a small group of people sharing the retreat center with us who were taking part in a training program in spiritual direction.

“What is spiritual direction?” I asked when I had a chance to speak to one of the students. I had always, rather snobbishly, assumed that spiritual direction belonged in the same category as my stereotypes of “life coach” and “personal trainer” which I tended to associate with the privileged and the pampered.

But as I listened to these people, I began to think about myself and my gifts. I enjoyed small-group spiritual formation encounters and had learned over the years that I could be present as a good listener.

I grabbed some of the written material on spiritual direction, threw it in my suitcase with conference handouts on border and immigration issues, and flew home.

Experiencing Spiritual Direction

Over the next few months I took the time to look for a spiritual director. If spiritual direction seemed to be calling, I needed to find out what it was all about!

The experience of being in spiritual direction with one of the wise women in the Diocese of New Hampshire was even more meaningful than I had hoped and served to demolish my unhelpful stereotypes and misconceptions. Our monthly meetings gave me the sacred gift of time – time for discussing my spiritual growth, for pondering my doubts, insights, and sense of vocation.

Training to be a Spiritual Director

After more than a year, my spiritual director and I agreed that I was being called to this ministry. For two years in a row, I returned each spring to the Redemptorist Center to complete my training in spiritual direction.

Now, close to fourteen years since I asked that question, “What is spiritual direction?” of some strangers in Tucson, I have begun to live into my own answer.

Being a spiritual director is both deeply humbling and quietly gratifying since our culture provides very few opportunities (even in churches) for people to have confidential, in-depth conversations about their spiritual lives.

As my own spiritual director points out, spiritual direction allows for coming “alongside another in exploring questions about how to live spiritually in a world of ambiguity and distraction.”

The Companions’ School for Spiritual Direction

In 2014 the Companions began the Adelynrood School for Spiritual Direction to fill a need for such training in the New England area. Since then, students have attended from as far away as Washington state and England.

Now, as I prepare for this summer’s first session of the Adelynrood School for Spiritual Direction program, I give thanks that my co-facilitators and I can welcome a new cohort of spiritual companions who are available to accompany others on their own walk with the Holy.

Editor’s note:

The first session of our School for Spiritual Direction is meeting the week of June 7.

At a recent leadership meeting, officers were unanimous: we want to spread the word that scholarships are available to support experiencing our programs. In normal times, they support going to Adelynrood, our retreat and conference center north of Boston.

They also may be used to pay registration for virtual Companions events, which are online during the pandemic. If the event is open to the public, both Companions and non-Companions are welcome to apply.

For more information, write to us on the contact form at the bottom of the page. Mention scholarship information and the program you’re interested in attending.