Recently I attended a reunion of Jubilee graduates. This was a particularly close-knit group that went through the 2-year Ontario Jubilee program together several years ago. What struck me, as a staff member of Ontario Jubilee, was the way these graduates offered their leadership skills to one another so naturally. One person led the morning contemplative prayer. Another person provided evocative questions that invited us to share from our lives in meaningful ways. Another person made sure the logs were on the fire for our evening chat. Where else can one find such a relaxed and spiritually mature group?
Upon further reflection, I realize I find this type of spiritually mature group anytime that spiritual directors gather. I am privileged to meet with many alumni of the Ontario Jubilee program but that sense of welcome and openness extends also to my connections with spiritual directors across the province and around the world.
It has been sixteen years since I graduated from the Ontario Jubilee program. I am slowly awakening to the fact that spiritual direction is becoming a way of life. I move into family conversations with an ear for where the Divine is at work; I enjoy lunch with a friend and easily talk about what matters most in life; my day almost always begins with a contemplative practice that connects me to the Divine within. As I meet other spiritual directors I realize they too experience this contemplative listening as a way of life.
And then when spiritual directors meet one another, it is natural to form a deep connection because we belong to the same spiritual community, whether or not we have met before. It doesn’t take us long to ask heart-felt questions. We enjoy speaking about the lessons that life is teaching us. There is no need to compete or brag about our accomplishments. We can be real and honest.
For these reasons I enjoy being part of spiritual communities that are centered in the contemplative life. The place I am most familiar with these loving, caring communities is when I am with Jubilee graduates. Yet experience has taught me that contemplative, spiritual communities also exist in a broader context. I know this to be true in my own Christian denomination but also across spiritual traditions that span the world.
I am especially looking forward to experiencing such a community at the Spiritual Directors International (SDI) conference in Toronto in April 2017. See www.sdiworld.org for details. In my experience these international gatherings are unique because I meet over four hundred other people who understand the contemplative life and are open to connecting at a heart level. We are all eager to learn more about contemplative listening and to experience the joys of community.
Miriam Frey is the Administrator of Ontario Jubilee.
The Jubilee Programs 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