By: Lynnette Hughes
Coracle Fellow ’17 and Coracle Spiritual Director
20 years ago I read Susan Howatch’s Starbridge Series of novels, describing the history of the Church of England in the 20th century, in which one of the main characters is a dynamic priest in and a spiritual director. I remember thinking, “Where can I find someone like that?”
Back then, spiritual direction was not widely known outside the Catholic tradition. But the idea of finding one stuck with me and over the years I made some attempts at finding a director without success. At the same time, God was working in me, through some hard life circumstances, to bring me into a deeper intimacy with Him. Then I learned of Coracle and that one of its main goals is to help offer spiritual direction to those seeking it. The more I got to know Coracle, and the people I met through it, the safer it felt, so I looked on the Spiritual Director’s page and emailed a total stranger, asking if we could meet.
That was five years ago and I am grateful and humbled by the work that God has done in me, significantly aided by my monthly meetings with my spiritual director. And while my desire for a spiritual director was true and good, my motive was off. When I first sought a spiritual director, I wanted someone who would lay out for me exactly how to live a Christian life, someone I could literally take directions from. I learned that a director’s job is not to tell me what to do, but rather to walk alongside me, helping me to notice what God might be inviting me into as we walk together.
Spiritual Direction has helped me become more aware of the presence of God in my daily life. As my awareness of his presence with me always increased, I only wanted more of it. I began to explore more contemplative practices such as silence and solitude, lectio divina and daily reflections centered on where I did or did not notice God. I often hope to see an immediate difference, for my soul to be changed in an instant. But, I have found that God is not usually in as much of a rush as I am. The monthly rhythm of meeting I have established with my director gives me time for reflection and processing what is stirring in me. And it does slow me down, which helps me become less focused on my soul changing and going back to just being aware of God’s presence with me.
In more recent years, God surprised me by awakening a desire to become a spiritual director myself. I was appreciating spiritual direction so much that I wanted to learn more about it. As I did, I began to notice that this way of being with people, as a director, was something that I resonated with strongly. It was different than a desire to mentor or disciple, I was very drawn to the specific ministry of spiritual direction. After “nudges” from the Holy Spirit and others, I began the formal training process. Through receiving direction, I not only discovered more intimacy with God but I also learned more about myself and how God has uniquely created me. And now God has called me to use all that I have gleaned from my own spiritual direction (which still continues!) to further God’s kingdom in the offering of spiritual direction to others.