Gerald May 3God’s Job
“In spiritual direction, one might say, ‘My prayers are for God’s will to be done in you and for your constant deepening in God. During this time that we are together I give myself, my awareness and attention and hopes and heart to God for you. I surrender myself to God for your sake.’”
Gerald May, Care of Mind / Care of Spirit, p. 121.
In Care of Mind/ Care of Spirit, May, encourages us to begin our meeting for spiritual direction with a similar silent prayer, remembering that giving spiritual direction, being a spiritual friend, is like being in prayer, only we are with someone else as well as God. We are to encourage the visitor or guest’s attention moment by moment to God, at the same time knowing we can only do this if we as well are tuned in to our own prayer life.
May gives advice about how to bring up sexuality early in the sessions so that it is an acceptable topic: “What are times you have felt closest to God? What about nature, music, sex, worship, or times of crisis?” May also makes a strong case for spiritual directors to be careful about relationships with their directees outside of the direction relationship. Dr. May’s detailed chapter on referral is easily understood especially because he writes about so many of his own personal experiences. May’s important concept of the difference between healing in the largest sense and curing a specific disorder is something we all in the healing professions need to digest and remember.
I am also grateful that I am in a group of spiritual directors that took May’s advice and meet regularly to discuss concerns and issues that arise in our work, meeting for mutual support, prayer, and questioning, knowing that we are not doing this ministry alone but are in community.
May asks us to look in directees for the experience of God beyond their belief system, knowing that belief and experience are two different areas to talk about. It is important that we use the language for the spiritual experience of the directees, not our own, trying to avoid solving people’s spiritual problems with statements such as, “You should pray this way” or “you need to have more faith.” May writes that the directee needs to know that the desire for an experience of God is already the experience of God that he or she is seeking.
I hope to remember that I am a companion, at most a midwife, on a person’s heart-journey with God and that this is God’s business, and God is in charge even though I may have such good ideas!