Ten years ago I entered an old house, long-since converted into make-shift offices. I climbed the rickety stairs, knocked on the door, and entered a space that would change my life.
In the years that followed, I spent hours in the rocking chair across from her. She listened mostly. But when she did speak it would be the most piercing and nearly unanswerable of questions or the simplest and strongest of statements. Either way, I wondered how I’d missed what she seemed to find. How she saw what I would not. How she heard what I could not. How she said what I feared. How she invited what I most desired. How she offered what I most needed. How she revealed the god who was there all along – as I frantically searched.
In some ways, the art of spiritual direction lies in uncovering the obvious in our lives and in realizing that everyday events are the means by which God tries to reach us. ~ Alan Jones
- I rocked. She sat still.
- I cried. She waited.
- I doubted. She let me.
- I raged. She took it all in.
- I felt shame. She offered grace.
- I was confused. She offered perspective.
- I felt stuck, immobilized, and nearly defeated. She opened my heart to the strength I already had, the God who was already there, the life that was mine to choose and live.
And for many years I have offered the same. No old, converted house. No rickety stairs. No rocking chair. But certainly my ears, my eyes, my heart, my voice, my perspective. I just haven’t been talking about it. Now I am.
I have held so many jobs – paid and otherwise. Piano teacher, DJ, radio station manager, and restaurant manager. Fine jewelry sales, volunteer coordinator, and relocation specialist. Recruiter, placement specialist, and career/leadership development. Missionary, teacher, pastor’s wife, mentor to mom’s, event planner, and leader. Speaker, writer, social media consultant, coach. And throughout all of these, a spiritual director.
At first I did this informally – having rich, intimate, and significant conversations with colleagues or friends. Later, while working on my M.Div. degree and a Certificate in Spiritual Direction, in a far more formal capacity. And now, online – with and for you.
It is not a familiar conversation – this intentional talk of faith and doubt, spirituality and the divine, desire and shame, metaphors and sacred text, loss and love and life. But it is powerful and life-changing, with or without the rocking chair.
When I sat in that rocking chair for the first time, she asked me why I was there. I remember saying something like, “I feel far away from God. I don’t like that. I want my faith to have meaning, emotion, substance…to be worth even holding on to. And I don’t know how to find or fix what’s broken.”
True spiritual direction is about the great unfixables in human life. It’s about the mystery of moving through time. It’s about mortality. It’s about love. It’s about things that can’t be fixed. ~ Alan Jones
She fixed nothing. But oh, how she mended, healed, bound up, and grafted my soul full of stories and understanding that strengthened me beyond compare; that changed my beliefs, my faith, my (ever-shifting) understanding of god. A changed life. And because of such, I feel humbled to be able to offer the same.
There is little privilege more sacred than to listen to another’s heart and watch for glimpses of the divine that might otherwise be missed, but are no less present; to offer new ways of understanding the sacred that feel relevant and vibrant and alive; to un-do much of the messaging of family and religion and culture; to offer stories of women that comfort and guide like the best of friends and most winsome of companions; to sit on holy ground and offer back what was given to me.
This is spiritual direction. I am a spiritual director. And these are words I’ve been reticent to speak for far too long.
I picture her, grinning slyly at me as I type this post and saying, “You always knew that this was what you loved, Ronna. Sometimes it just takes you a while to come to what was always true, always there, always waiting. But that’s OK. You’re not alone….ever.”
“I’m not really sure why I’m here. I don’t know what I want.” They want God, of course, but they aren’t able to say so. They want to know themselves in relation to God, but they aren’t able to say that either. They want spiritual direction, but that, too, they are often unable to say. ~ Alan Jones
I have two spots open for SacredConversation. Let’s talk. This is what I do, gratefully. No old house, rickety stairs, or even rocking chair required. But a changed life? Yes. This is my promise, my privilege, my prayer.