What is spiritual direction?
The ministry of spiritual direction, sometimes referred to as spiritual guidance or spiritual companionship, has ancient roots in the Christian Church. It is primarily a one-on-one ministry (hence is adaptable to the need of the individual) which takes place in a caring atmosphere of acceptance, confidentiality and trust.
The Shalem Institute, the foremost ecumenical centre for training spiritual directors describes the ministry as follows:
“It is an ongoing relationship in which one person (the directee) is desirous of being attentive to his or her spiritual life, meets another person (the director) on a regular basis, especially for the purpose of becoming more sensitized to the presence of God’s Spirit in order to respond more fully to that Presence in all of life.”
Who is it for?
Spiritual direction is for anyone who wants assistance in developing personal prayer, growth in discernment and intimacy with God so that His love might pervade their perceptions and choices more completely throughout their journey.
During the sessions the directee’s prayer and relationship with God is the main focus. However, one’s spirituality is not separate from, but is interconnected with the whole person and all aspects of life. Therefore one’s broader activities, concerns and relationships may need attention as well.
Sometimes a person may see a director for a short period only; for instance when desiring help in discerning between God’s will and their own desires regarding a particular decision. For other people, spiritual direction or companionship may become part of their ongoing spiritual practice.
Who does it?
The Synod of Alberta and the Territories has two Spiritual Directors:
Diaconal Minister Faith Nostbakken has a two-year Certificate in Spiritual Direction and is a rostered spiritual director at the Providence Renewal Centre in Edmonton. She has a Master of Theological Studies degree (MTS) and a PhD in English Literature, having taught at a university and authored several books. She is a Diaconal Minister of the ELCIC, with a call to the specialized ministry of spiritual direction for the Synod of Alberta and the Territories.
Rev. Ron Flamand is ordained into the ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and his ministry has been in hospital/health care chaplaincy and congregational ministry. He is a member of Spiritual Directors International (SDI) an organization that provides support, ongoing education, resources and ethical guidelines for practice to its members and others who practice spiritual direction. He attended a two year program out of Queen’s House of Retreat and Renewal Centre in Saskatoon, SK. This formation program was ecumenical and had participants from a variety of Christian denominations and communities.
More about Faith Nostbakken:
With a passion for stories, she sees her role as spiritual director to help people discover their own sacred stories by listening with compassion and respect to what needs to be told so that it may be more fully and freely lived. Because she affirms God’s desire to meet us in every chapter that shapes our lives, she invites people considering spiritual direction to “come as you are” and be open to the mystery of God’s transforming love and presence. Faith is available to meet people face to face and also has also used Skype and e-mail as a means of connecting with people farther away.
The fee is based upon a sliding scale. Each session lasts an hour. The fee and frequency of meetings is discussed and agreed upon on the first session.
Faith can be contacted through the Alberta Synod office (780) 439-2636 or via email: Faith Nostbakken
More about Ron Flamand:
Spiritual direction can be described in multiple ways. One that speaks to me and guides my practice is described by David G. Benner, “In its classical form, spiritual direction is a one-on-one relationship organized around prayer and conversation directed toward deepening intimacy with God.” In ordinary everyday language I like to say that we are all walking each other home.
Questions, doubts, awe and wonder, grief, meaning, purpose, direction, emotions, celebration and anything else that helps define our common humanity is all grist for the mill as we journey together seeking to discern the presence and movement of the Spirit in and around us. Nothing, in our spiritual journey is more important than discovering and actualizing the unique self-in-Christ that is my/your/our eternal destiny. This is the core of Christian spirituality.
Spiritual directors are not experts, nor do we direct. We are listeners, listening for what is both spoken and left unspoken; listening for matters both of the mind and of the heart. We journey with others who, like ourselves, are committed to the process of spiritual transformation. We seek to accompany those with whom we journey, to discern the presence and leading of the Spirit of God, the One who is our true Spiritual Director. The image of spiritual direction is three chairs; one for you, one for me and one for the presence of the Spirit, who is the true Spiritual Director.
I am available for further conversation should you have questions about spiritual direction itself or about my approach to it.
Together with the traditional practice of face to face conversations, I am also interested in exploring alternative ways such as through skype and via email, in small groups and while walking, etc. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 780-686-3982
What others have said about spiritual direction:
“We can never know God until we first know our own soul.”
–Julian of Norwich
“Spiritual direction is, in reality, nothing more than a way of leading us to see and obey the real Director – the Holy Spirit hidden in the depths of our soul.”
“Give me faith, Lord, and let me help others find it.”