My Own Experience Leading Group Spiritual Direction
It was over fifteen years ago that I created a small group for spiritual direction in my own congregation. My pastor had asked if I would meet with two women who were seeking spiritual nurture but were not sure they had the time or money to invest in individual spiritual direction.
I drew up a covenant following Rose Mary Dougherty’s suggestions in her book Group Spiritual Direction: Community for Discernment. Together the three of us discussed this new format for sharing in a small group and have spent the past 15 years together in this group.
The first ten years flew past as we met monthly to share with one another what was happening in our spiritual life. We marked our ten-year anniversary by going on retreat together. Silence and a group session were part of that retreat time.
What strikes me is how we have changed and matured together over these last fifteen years. We frequently talk about our image of the Divine. Sometimes it is concrete (like a person, a cozy blanket or the colour of a sunset). But more often than not, we realize we are praying to a kind, compassionate Presence that accompanies us. We also share with one another our understanding of suffering and forgiveness in a world that is often harsh, opinionated and exclusive. Increasingly we long to live with gratitude and loving kindness trusting that life is flowing as it does and that we are fully awake and alive in it.
I can’t imagine my life without this spiritual community that supports me on a regular basis. While it doesn’t replace my one-on-one spiritual direction sessions, it is a great addition to my spiritual journey.
Note about payment:
I chose to become a participant of my group (and not just the facilitator) and so I receive no payment for the leadership I offer. That is one difference between individual and group spiritual direction… in groups the facilitator can become a participant… we are spiritual directors for one another. However, if I was the facilitator only, I would serve as the supervisor of the spiritual direction sessions and that could be paid.
Miriam Frey is the Administrator of Ontario Jubilee
The Jubilee Programs offer training in spiritual direction, spiritual growth and soul development. We explore the contemplative life through spiritual practices including the enneagram, integration of head/heart/body, silent retreats, “holy listening” in journey groups and contemplative prayer and meditation. Read more about spiritual direction by clicking on our 3 national programs: Ontario Jubilee, Pacific Jubilee, Prairie Jubilee