“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 in Care of Mind/Care of Spirit (HarperSanFrancisco, 1982), 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 it is like being in prayer, except that we are with someone else as well as with God. We are to help direct the visitor or guest’s attention, moment by moment, to God, at the same time knowing we can do this only if we 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. Perhaps of greatest importance to those of us in the healing community is May’s concept of the difference between healing in the largest sense and curing a specific disorder.
I am grateful that I have been in a group of spiritual directors that took May’s advice and meet regularly to discuss concerns and issues that arise in our work. We meet for mutual support, prayer, and questioning, knowing that we are not doing this ministry alone, but are in community.
May asks us to identify in directees their experience of God beyond their belief system, emphasizing that belief and experience are two different areas to explore. It is important that we use the language of the directees’ own spiritual experience and not our own. We should try 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. God is in charge, even though I may have such good ideas!
Come and get a signed copy of the new book
Just in time for the holidays
A Spiritual Rx for Advent Christmas, and Epiphany
The Sequel to A Spiritual Rx for Lent and Easter
Both are $18
All Money from sale of the books goes either to Camp Mitchel Camp and Conference Center in Arkansas or Hurricane Relief in the Diocese of Central Gulf Coast
Seibert’s, 27 River Ridge Road, Little Rock, Arkansas 72227
10 to noon, Saturday September 14, 2019