Seeking Spiritual Direction


Some years ago, when I was facing a dark time in my life and feeling overwhelmed, I began meeting with a spiritual director. The pace of my life had left me feeling exhausted and began to sap the joy of living. Prayer seemed dry and unsatisfying, and I had begun to wonder about the meaning of my life. I longed for a guide to help me tap into the life-giving joy of my faith once again. I began meeting with a spiritual director every month and found that the opportunity to pour out the stuff of my life with a compassionate listener was a balm for my weary soul. These times of journeying together provided me with a chance to attend more fully to God’s presence and call in my life.

Spiritual direction has a long history in the Christian faith. There are many examples in Holy Scripture of spiritual direction. When Jesus met with Nicodemus or with the Woman at the Well, or in his training and formation of the disciples, we can see the elements of spiritual direction. The language of these encounters was that of love, kindliness, and compassion, encouraging the person to move towards healing and growth rather than a focus on judgement, condemnation, and punishment. Some of the early contemplatives, the desert monks, also practiced spiritual direction.

Spiritual direction is described by one practitioner as,

“The facilitation of one’s spiritual formation through a covenanted relationship with another, formalized in regular meetings for inquiry, conversation and reflection around one’s personal experience. The spiritual director is one who, by virtue of personal holiness and spiritual maturity, helps the spiritual directee to pay attention to the presence and work of God in her or his life.”

Thomas Merton describes the purpose of spiritual direction:

“to penetrate beneath the surface of a person’s life, to get behind the facade of conventional gestures and attitudes which one presents to the world, and to bring out one’s inner spiritual freedom, one’s inmost truth, which is what Christians call the likeness of Christ in one’s soul.”

Spiritual Directors have engaged in an extensive program of formation, which may have included training in Franciscan, Benedictine, or Ignatian traditions. A spiritual director is not a counsellor or therapist and may or may not be ordained. If you are wondering if spiritual direction is right for you, the following list may help you to decide whether to take the next step and contact a spiritual director if:

  • you are feeling a need to pay attention to God’s personal revelation and to respond to God
  • problems have arisen in your life
  • you desire a deeper relationship with God
  • your search for God is at a crossroad and you want to explore new ways to pray
  • prayer has become difficult
  • you feel the need for someone to help in discerning the call of God for you
  • you just desire a companion on the spiritual journey

There are a number of Spiritual Directors in Manitoba, and several who call the Anglican tradition home. Most Spiritual Directors request a donation of a nominal fee for their services. The following is a partial list. More information on spiritual direction can be obtained from or from Spiritual Directors International. If you are a spiritual director in the Diocese of Rupert’s Land and you would like to be included in the diocesan listing, please be in touch with me.

Spiritual Directors in Rupert’s Land:

[box] Nancy Phillips is a spiritual director and occupational health nurse.[/box]


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