Spiritual Directors International

The Home of Spiritual Companionship


Guest Author: 
Sr Virgina Herbers


Editor's Note: This post comes from the generous folks at Global Sisters Report, an independent nonprofit source of news about Catholic sisters and the people they serve. Though it clearly comes at spiritual direction from a Christian and Catholic perspective, Sister Virginia's insights into spiritual companionship and its value to help us be present - to what is and how we perceive it - can offer benefits to anyone, no matter what spiritual tradition they espouse, or if they embrace none. SDI is grateful to share it here.

I have the great privilege of being a spiritual director.

Guest Author: 
Staci Lee Kennelly

Photo (c) Staci Lee Kennelly

Feelings are wonderful, glorious things. Some are easy to love: joy, hope, happiness, peace. Some take time to learn how to love: confusion, apprehension, remorse. For others, it can be hard to see how or why we ought to love them at all: grief, abandonment, fear. Still, if we allow them, and if we are brave enough to feel them, all our feelings can be wonderful and glorious things. Confusion can become curiosity, remorse can become a lesson, grief can become love for what was, is, and is to come.

However, some of us don’t allow our emotions to be felt fully and allow them to teach us and reveal their mysteries to us. Some of us were taught at an early age – either by our guardians or by our own mind trying to protect us – that feelings are dangerous. Even the feelings that bring us joy eventually dissipate, so to deeply feel any emotion fully, deep down in our soul, is a risky thing.

Guest Author: 
Bruce Tallman

(Editor's note: We encourage you to dive into some spiritual reading this summer. Of course, this is only one list put together by one spiritual director - albeit an experienced one. No doubt our readers could add to it with their favorite titles. Feel free to do so in the comments below.

P.S. We have taken the liberty of including links to sample pages from each book - or other background information - so you can get a better feel for what experience the book might hold for you.)


Why not do your own personal spiritual retreat this summer?

This less busy time is perfect for contemplation and development in religious understanding. And there is no better way to do that than getting into a good book. Here are some major works I have found helpful over the years.

Guest Author: 
Erin Pickersgill

Editor’s note: Erin Pickersgill is one of SDI’s New Contemplatives of 2017. In this post, she shares two lovely ideas for bedtime spirituality that come from her Christian perspective. We believe the ideas of the “basket” and the “movie” can be adapted to be used by families from any spiritual tradition or those families whose spirituality is sourced in a number of traditions or no tradition at all. We encourage all parents to give them a try.


While sitting at swimming lessons the other day, watching my daughter dive for rings, I was listening to the parent-talk around me. They were sharing about children who wouldn’t sleep - and one particular child who suffered nightly from terrors and bad dreams. Obviously, the parents and the child were exhausted and at their wits’ end.

Guest Author: 
Ryan Kuja

Editor's note: We are grateful to spiritual director and author Ryan Kuja for sharing this excerpt from his new book From the Inside Out: Reimagining Mission, Recreating the World. An SDI New Contemplative (2016), Ryan is currently working in Medellin, Colombia as a Christian contemplative activist. In this excerpt, he examines the contemplative spirituality that arose among the Desert Mothers and Fathers and continues today as a practice that invites us  to leave the "falsity of the ego" and "meet a God we don’t know and can’t possibly imagine."

After Constantine converted to Christianity around 313 CE, the still fledgling Jesus movement that had existed only on the fringes of society became the religion of the Roman Empire. As the Christianizing of the ancient Near East began, the foundations of the gospel began to morph to fit Rome’s vision rather than the vision of Jesus and the original church.

The empire began remaking the Jesus movement into its own image.

As many faithful followers of Jesus witnessed the perversion of their faith concretize further and further, some chose to resist it by fleeing. Men and women left the cities for the deserts of Palestine, Egypt, and Syria. It was here that desert spirituality arose as a reaction to and liberation from empire spirituality.

They fled into the wilderness to nurture another way of life in community, to discern what it meant to follow Christ through humility, silence, and solitude. The desert invited a radical interiority rooted in contemplative practice focused on a complete surrender to the divine as well as a confrontation of falsity in the self and in the world. Here, the Desert Mothers (Ammas) and Fathers (Abbas) were able to have an experience of Christ not mediated by the state but by their own bodily reality.

Guest Author: 
Daniel Haas

Editor's Note: Teresa Blythe is one of the presenters in the SDI webinar series Making a Living as a Spiritual Director. Her book is reviewed below by Daniel Haas.

The sticker on my windshield tells me that my car needs an oil change every three months or after so many miles. I go in for a spiritual oil change at least every three months, too - preferably every one or two. People have done that since the dawn of time. In recent years spiritual direction has entered the mainstream. More and more people understand that body, mind, and spirit need regular check-ups and check-ins. And where there is a demand, there will also be a supply. Spiritual direction comes out of the monastic tradition but is now available to everyone and offered by persons from a variety of backgrounds.

In her book Spiritual Direction 101, Teresa Blythe addresses those who want to hang their shingle and become active practitioners of spiritual direction. Blythe makes the point that anyone can call her or himself a spiritual director. The title and the work are not regulated by law. Still, she insists on maintaining the ethics of the profession as outlined by Spiritual Directors International. One big take-away for the aspiring or practicing spiritual director is not to do this work alone. Blythe emphasizes that spiritual directors should participate in spiritual direction themselves as well as receive regular supervision from peers or a mentor.

Guest Author: 
Marybeth Leis Druery

Editor's note: Marybeth Leis Druery is a Spiritual Director and visual artist who integrates expressive arts with meditation and spiritual practice. Marybeth has provided spiritual care for young adults since 1995 and co-founded Student Open Circles in 2001 with her partner, Jeff Druery, at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. They mentor university students from diverse backgrounds in personal and spiritual reflection, community service, and leadership development, facilitating weekly reflection groups, retreats, spirituality courses, and provide spiritual direction for students.

It takes “practice” to let go and be with process. I experience art-making similarly to how Gerald May describes prayer: “immediacy in the present moment, honesty of desire, some kind of reaching toward the Source.” In creative expression, students experience encouragement, safety, and stillness that invites creative practice to become a spiritual practice, a way to reconnect with the original, true self, as the obsession with results melts away. Eventually, this new way of being spills over into life, affecting how we relate to others, how we serve, and how we bring love and care into the world.

Guest Author: 
Lucretia B. Yaghjian

At a workshop on Ignatian Spirituality at the April 2018 Spiritual Directors International Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, presenter Marlene Marburg invited participants to experience the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius through “A 21st Century Lens”, and directed us to the third chapter of Genesis—the narrative of Adam and Eve’s original sin and expulsion from the Garden of Eden—which Ignatius of Loyola frames in this way in the First Week of the Exercises:

Guest Author: 
Julie Elliot

We were downhill skiing and I took a tumble that landed badly –  smashed bones and spiral fractures in my right leg. One moment I was floating through fresh powder, feeling strong and happy. The next moment I was stuck in the snow waiting for help to arrive. The next two weeks would be a blur of surgery, pain management and almost complete immobility. It’s been an awakening and, in this reflection, I’m asking what am I waking up to through this experience?

Guest Author: 
Diane Hogan

I’ve heard survivors of sexual abuse say “I can’t pray because I was abused by a priest. [If I try to pray,] I feel victimized all over again.” These words have stayed with me and inspired me to really look at what I call our inner voice and how certain obscurities may prevent its fluidity and its positive influence in our lives. 

The inner voice contains the truth we hold about ourselves: “I’m good/bad,” “I’m concerned/not concerned,” “I’m favorable/unfavorable to my parents,” etc. It also contains the spiritual side to self. We often refer to our inner voice as coming from our inner sanctum. This is a place where we may pray, commune with God, contemplate, meditate, reflect on our passage in time and make moral sense of what has happened. Our inner voice may express our confession to God and others based on our reflections, our thoughts and discernment, which we may deem as our truth. (Confession, here, alludes to bearing witness to our truth, to  our reality.)


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