An elderly minister I visit regularly in my job as visitation pastor for my church told me today that “spiritual direction will be greatly needed in the days ahead.”
He was one of many people I know deeply troubled by the reports of hate crimes and hate speech directed at people of color, the LGBTQ community, women and immigrants after the election of Donald Trump as President.
Regardless of how you feel about how the election turned out, the fact is that large populations that those of us in the progressive church work alongside with and support are in mourning. They are scared. People who work suicide hotlines are hearing from many people who are teetering on the edge, contemplating suicide.
To a privileged cisgender white person with a good job and employer provided health insurance this may sound outrageous or unbelievable, but people who have been living with the sting of racism, heterosexism, sexism and the kind of nationalism that wants immigrants to “go home” have known for a long time that this country has a dark and dangerous shadow.
How do we come to terms with this reality?
When the outer world seems untrustworthy, many people turn their attention to the inward journey and consider how they will nurture their soul. I’m one of those and I believe it’s a healthy practice. I’m not advocating denial or spiritual bypassing (which is what happens when a person uses spirituality as a way to bypass feelings they would rather not have). But if you need to take time and space to regroup in the midst of the whirlwind of change, please take it.
You may even need someone to process this regrouping with.
Spiritual direction is a safe place to explore feelings of anger, rage, sorrow, distrust, frustration, powerlessness—you name it. A spiritual director is trained to deeply listen, holding space in prayer and trust while you let it all out. With no judgment. We won’t rage with you (we do that on our own time and with our own spiritual directors) but rest assured, we’ve seen rage before. Your feelings will not surprise us or drive us away.
If you need someone to talk to, will you please reach out to a spiritual director today?
You can find thousands of us on the “Seek and Find Guide” at www.sdiworld.org. We are from diverse backgrounds: we are Christians (of all varieties), Jews, Muslims, Interspiritual, Interfaith, Buddhists and “other.” If you can’t find one in your hometown, there are many who will work with you by phone or Skype. If you think you can’t afford one, please know that most of us offer a sliding scale.
If we think of spiritual direction in larger terms than the practice of sharing your journey with someone trained to listen and pray with you, then definitely this nation is greatly in need of a spiritual direction. One that is filled with hope for the future and strength for the tasks at hand today.
May you find peace in that quest.
If you would like to meet with me, I have openings in my schedule for new directees—regardless of where you live. I can work by phone or Skype or if you live in the Phoenix metro area we can meet in person. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.teresablythe.net. Also visit my website for the Phoenix Center for Spiritual Direction.