April 30, 2007

Spiritual direction

A spiritual director is a compassionate, concerned observer whose task is to help people notice the ways in which Spirit is moving in their lives. (Why meet with a spiritual director?)

What is group spiritual direction?

Group spiritual direction includes times of silence, time to speak about your spiritual journey, and time to listen deeply to other members of the group. A spiritual director guides the logistics of the process and helps the group to stay in a contemplative mode.

10th station of the cross: Jesus' clothes are takenYou might seek out a spiritual direction group if…

  • you want to be intentional about your faith or your spiritual practices and would like to be part of a community of like-minded people,
  • you’re willing to rest in simple “unknowing” on behalf of others to assist them in their ongoing discernment without trying to fix or change things for them,
  • you’re drawn to contemplative, quiet forms of prayer, or you’d like to deepen that aspect of your spiritual life.

To learn more, see Rose Mary Dougherty’s online pamphlet Group Spiritual Direction: What Is It?

Looking for a spiritual direction group? If you happen to live in the California Bay Area, try Mercy Center or New College Berkeley.

Do you know of other resources for finding spiritual direction groups? Please leave a comment, or contact me at

Why meet with a spiritual director?

Meeting with a spiritual director can help you grow and become more fully who you’re meant to be. You might seek out a spiritual director if…

  • you’d like someone to help you notice where God is showing up in your day-to-day life and how God is calling you to live,
  • you’re in transition and wonder where God fits in, or you are making a decision and need help and encouragement in your discernment process,
  • you plan to go on a personal retreat and want spiritual direction before or during that time,
  • you’re angry or doubting or having other issues with God and don’t feel free to explore it in your church or faith
    community, or
  • you simply feel a pull toward spiritual direction and want to give it a try.


Typically, individual direction happens once a month for an hour, and groups meet once a month for two hours. It’s customary for spiritual directors to charge a fee.

When people are looking for a spiritual director, they often interview several directors to find out which one is right for them. The SDI site has a helpful list of questions to ask a prospective spiritual director.

For a description of how I proceed when someone contacts me about spiritual direction, see Spiritual direction agreement.