This week I finished reading Jennie Allen's new book Find Your People: Building Deep Community in a Lonely World. It was a fascinating book that really hit home with me. Essentially, her thesis is that we have lost the mentality of having a tribe - trying to make every acquaintance into our best friend, and when that fails, we retreat back to ways of behaving that illuminate our loneliness.
But as I was reading, I wondered out loud, where does spiritual direction - especially group spiritual direction fit into her model? Because the people that journey with us - they become more than acquaintances, they probably aren't our best friends (but may be), but they didn't really fit into her definition of "tribe" either.
Group spiritual direction is this holy ground where we pour our hearts out to people, who may start as strangers, but who we have covenanted to listen to and with. They are people that want to see us connect with the Divine and in order to do so, they are willing to get vulnerable with us.
Group spiritual direction is truly holy listening and sacred space.
Yet, it is so rare in our culture to find intentional places like this.
What is stirring in your heart and life that may be ripe for spiritual direction?
This past week I was on vacation. I spent time with my family at one of our favorite places - the beach. It is a place that has deep memories for us and allows us to relax as we watch the waves roll in against the shore.
Inevitably, when I tell some folks that this is my favorite place, their first response is to list all of the reasons that it isn't theirs.
Which on one level is acceptable - we all have different favorite places. But where this can stumble into areas of discomfort is when the person speaking fails to realize that it isn't about them. It isn't about their favorite place or where they vacation - this is simply mine.
We all need a place where we can show up and be listened to simply for who we are. There are more than enough places where other people give us their opinions. We need a place for our souls to feel safe and accepted in order to grow.
Spiritual direction can be such a place - if we let it. A place to say 'this is me and this is what I'm sensing' and be accompanied by another person. A person tuned in to your heart and listening for the Spirit.
May you find places to be gently held and fully listened to.
Michelle is a Spiritual Director and End of Life Doula. She is the founder of Abide in the Spirit.
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