Spiritual friendship, also called "spiritual direction", is an ancient wisdom tradition. It is an agreement with a spiritual companion to create a relationship within a veil of trust and loving grace. The goal is together to attend to a deeper awareness of and appreciation for God’s presence and movement in the interior and exterior circumstances of daily life. The fundamental assumption is that God wants us to know God and God speaks to us in our daily lives, is present in all experience, and reveals self through creation, scripture, life experiences, human relationships, dreams, creative expression, solitude, and prayer. Spiritual friendship is a process of deep listening designed to help people who are seeking to live a more fully human and reflective life. Spiritual friendship embraces both the quest for God and the quest for a transformed world by emphasizing the call to both contemplation and action.
The notion of a religious guide to mentor someone through the process of becoming more familiar with God is ancient and exists throughout the world's spiritual traditions. Among the communities of desert Christians of late antiquity, the abba (father) figure of a wise and holy monk played an important role in moderating penance, offering suggestions for prayer, giving practical counsel for dealing with the traps and delusions inherent to life in the wilderness, sharing psychological and spiritual insight into human nature, and helping to discern the Spirit of God.
In the same way that the priest Eli helped the young Samuel to recognize and respond to the Lord's voice (see 1 Sam 3), the spiritual friend cooperates with God in the ministry of spiritual life by helping the one who comes to this relationship to attend to the active presence of God in her or his life.
Silence, prayer, meditation, contemplation, conversation and dialogue between friends is the central nature the friendship. Subject matter talked about in spiritual friendship session include relationships, images of God or enlightenment, discernment, prayer life and practices, and the striving for greater balance in one’s life. Basically, all that happens in our lives is potential material for spiritual friendship to discern the nature grace. However, it is essential to understand that spiritual friendship is not akin to psychotherapy; a friend is not trained to concentrate on behavioral or psychotherapeutic needs. The focus of spiritual friendship is primarily on relationship between the person and the divine presence. Among the ways of tending to this relationship within the friendship formal appointments are made that include conversation, deep listening, time for silence, prayer, dream work, art-making, and guided imagery/visualization. Spiritual friendship meetings are always confidential.
Traditional spiritual friendship centers principally on conversation as a way of exploring a person’s relationship to the sacred dimension of their lives. Using the tarot arts we expand the possible ways of becoming open to concrete levels of prayer. Through tarot study and symbols we may access talents that include visual art, poetry, journaling, movement, music, and guided imagery. During each session the friend listens for what might be an appropriate medium to experiment to deepen reflection on a particular experience. The tarot arts are treated as an invitation to address directly the living symbols in our lives. Friends allow for time to reflect on the experiences.After an initial series of exploratory sessions between friends, friends usually meet about once a month, or more frequently depending upon the friend’s needs.
Spiritual friendship is a formal ministry where two people agree to pay attention to the spiritual aspect of their lives together. Confidentiality and mutual trust and respect are essential for the process to work well. The purpose of the relationship to to become more aware of how the divine communicates to us in our everyday lives.
Email or phone Paul to arrange an appointment to discuss the nature of this practice for you. If Paul cannot address you needs he can usually provide referrals to other Spiritual Friendship ministries.