Finding Spirit Through Zoom
My day consists of running from pre-school drop off to prayer meetings, to preschool pickup, lunch prep, sermon prep ... you get the picture. Being a young clergy mom, I fully understand being short on time. Finding time for self-care and reflection isn't easy. The same is true for most of my directees. I have five directees: one young mom, two young clergy moms, and two more clergy, all with at least one thing in common. We are all short on time.
I try to be as efficient as possible. I love that meme that says, “When that meeting could have been an email.” I know technology is not always the answer, but I also think we aren’t fully embracing technology to the extent that we can, especially as spiritual directors.
As much as it pained me, I had to stop seeing my first spiritual director because I moved and I couldn’t make the distance work. Had we utilized technology, I would not have missed out on our spiritual relationship.
My directees live all over the country. We meet through Zoom, though other spiritual directors use Skype or the telephone. When we sign on together, we have already taken time to be prayerful, so we aren’t stressed from traffic or worried about leaving on time to get to the next appointment. We meet remotely. Sometimes I even “meet” with directees from the parking lot of my son’s school so I can schedule meetings all the way up until his dismissal time. I can meet with the directee while her/his baby is taking a nap or while the directee is the office between meetings.
My directees have shared how truly grateful they are to take this moment out of their busy schedules to reflect on where God is moving in their lives. The reality of our lives is that we are bouncing from one place to next, multi-tasking the whole day through, and trying to keep a million to-do’s in our minds. The last thing we are doing is noticing God throughout the day.
But once a month, penciled in their calendars, is a face-to-face video call with me, their spiritual director. We take a breath….or three. We sit in silence. And then we talk about the holy. We reflect on God and their lives. We talk about how these holy moments are affecting them. We discern together.
That one hour can be anything from the spiritual recharge they need to a transformative moment. We put everything else on pause and invite the Holy Spirit to sit with a us a while. We invite ourselves to notice where the Spirit has been and where it is moving. That is something we all need—no matter what our schedule looks like.
I meet with one directee in person and four on Zoom, and I have to say, I don’t feel a difference Spirit-wise. Some of my most powerful moments have been through the Zoom meetings. Some of my most touching moments were shared through a screen.
Remote spiritual direction is not a new concept. I’ve read the letters of spiritual direction of Jane de Chantel and Francis de Sales. Holy moments were shared on the page, weeks and months apart.
Presence is not only felt physically. It happens when you feel heard, respected, seen and supported. And that can happen anywhere. Don’t limit yourself to who lives in your area code. Expand your network if technology feels right for you. There may be someone halfway across the world who is seeking a spiritual director just like you. I invite you to consider this newer practice with ancient roots.
Editor's note: We invite you to try SDI's Seek and Find Guide, a free service which allows anyone to search easily for a spiritual companion. You can search for distance-based spiritual direction or for a director geographically close to you so you can pursue in-person companionship.
Julia Singleton is a United Methodist pastor serving in the Eastern Pennsylvania conference. She will receive her certificate in Spiritual Direction at Neumann University in Aston, PA in May 2018. She lives with her husband, Jeremy and 5-year old son, Aaron. When she finds a spare moment she likes to read and dance. Her devotions and prayers have been published in two books with other young clergywomen through the WePrayWithHer project.