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Reflective Practice for Spiritual Directors – Anne Long

June 15, 2015

RPFSDI had been booked in for a course with this title but it was cancelled because lack of interest from others made it unviable.

Reading this book instead saved me £40, though much of it seems common sense to me. That being said, it is always good to be reminded and to refresh and update one’s knowledge and relate it to experiences which happened after the original insight.

Because there is a shortage of supervisors, many of us belong to a peer supervision group, though the author’s meets for much longer than we do. They keep going for 5 hours.

I was trained not to keep notes and to wipe the details of a direction session from my head immediately after the encounter, much as a preiest does after hearing confessions. However, the author has a different approach and offers a set of reflections for after a session: Asking for God’s light, we can go back to what was happening in us before the person came. How did I feel—Glad? Available? Expectant? Nervous? Bored? What feelings can I identify and were there underlying reasons for these? Did I ask for God’s grace and his gifts of discernment and wisdom in my meeting with that particular person? How did we begin the session? Chatty beginnings can sometimes waste time. A brief shared silence at the beginning can help both the one we accompany and ourselves to feel present and centred. What happened during the session and what feelings did I have at various points? Did I feel involved in his or her experience, or distant and out of tune? Was I focused or distracted? Peaceful or restless? Did I sense God’s presence, and at what points?

Or did I feel he was absent? As we concluded, did I know how this person was feeling?

I like the church (sadly unlike mine) where the vicar instituted a sabbatical week at regular intervals throughout the year when there were no church meetings or committees. Instead, church members were encouraged to meet with friends, socialize with neighbours and relax.

I have always seen ‘a rule of life’ as being a set of rules – Sunday mass, regular confession, fasting etc. Our author quotes a more satisfying way: David Runcorn suggests that we might start by asking ourselves, ‘What is most important to me? What do I want for my life and those I share it with? What are my core values—those moral, social and spiritual convictions that are non-negotiable and that I wish my life to be fashioned around?…We are seeking the core principles that shape all our relating—to family, spouse, ourselves, church, work, our enemies, our friends, possessions, money and time.’ From here we could develop a ‘personal mission statement’ based on our core values, possibly checking it out with someone who knows and loves us well enough to speak the truth to us. Then we might shape a personal rule of life, approaching it realistically rather than idealistically, avoiding oughts and shoulds, and looking at the whole of our lives rather than just the ‘spir­itual’ parts. How would I want to shape my rule in terms of time for myself, my family, friends, work, church, leisure? What approximate time would I want to allocate to these — daily? weekly? monthly? annually? A rule of life is not about making a prison for ourselves but an aid towards shaping our lives so as to live more creatively and less compulsively.

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