Spiritual Direction

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What is spiritual direction?  

At its core, it happens when someone seeking deeper connection with God, self, and the world meets with a person who has training and experience in detecting God at work.  A life of prayer–which encompasses all of life–is unique to each person.  It is helpful to be accompanied along the way with someone who can listen deeply and help you follow where the Spirit is leading.  “Direction” implies that you are going somewhere, that you are practicing your faith with intention, accepting God’s invitation to move forward.  In another sense, the “direction” comes from the Spirit, not the “director.”

Why do people seek spiritual direction?

People come to spiritual direction for a variety of reasons, including to:

  • Recognize and claim their own spiritual experiences
  • Understand how daily life can be lived more spiritually
  • Exercise discernment about choices
  • Share their hopes, challenges, and losses
  • Cultivate compassion within themselves for the sake of others
  • Fully embrace their spiritual affiliation
  • Appreciate the created world

What makes someone a spiritual director?

Even though the ministry has been around for centuries, there is no standard for professionals.  So, you need to ask if a director is certified, and where they got their certification.  I got mine from Seeking the Spirit Within, a two-year ministry and training of the Nebraska Synod of the ELCA.  I studied writings by mystics, experienced many spiritual practices, heard from seasoned spiritual directors, studied Christian spirituality, and practiced spiritual direction both in the cohort and under supervision.  The training was rigorous and exhilarating.

Ultimately what makes a spiritual director is God’s work within, including a deep call to accompany other people in their prayer lives.

So, how does it work?

Typically the director and directee meet for an hour, once a month for dialogue and prayer, often including some time spent in silence.  It is best done in person.  However, there are not a lot of spiritual directors in some areas (including where I live, in Iowa), so using online apps such as Zoom or Skype work almost as well.

It is my practice to meet with someone once or twice to make sure it’s a good fit before expecting him/her to commit to ongoing direction.  Both parties need to sense that they are compatible in order to move ahead.  Once we begin, we will check in after four months to be sure we want it to continue.

What can I expect?

You can expect me to keep our sessions confidential, to give full attention and intention to the process with you, and to establish and keep boundaries of professional ethics.  As for the process itself, your openness and commitment will lead to greater awareness of yourself and God.  I might suggest new spiritual practices if they would be helpful at various stages in your prayer life.

How much does it cost?

Because there are substantial costs involved in being a spiritual director, including being in direction oneself, there needs to be some payment.  This also helps the directee take the process seriously.  I am willing to negotiate a fee depending on one’s ability to pay.  Monthly fees will not exceed $50 and will not be less than $10.

How can I get started?

You can contact me directly at dsmechler@gmail.com if you are interested in my work with you.  You can also find a director in your area by going to www.sdiworld.org.