By Julie Elliot –
I imagine every spiritual director has moments when they’re tempted to fix or help their directees. If I’m honest, it’s as much about my need for control as my desire to help.
This week, I’d like to share a painting, a meditation, and an observation about myself as a spiritual companion.
The painting is one that I did many years ago called “A Time to Receive, A Time to Let Go.” It was inspired by a meditation where I saw myself sitting on a tall stack of papers in the middle of a grassy field. The papers seemed important and they formed a sort of chair that was unsteady and difficult to hold together. A breeze came up and the papers slid out from under me and started to blow away. I was desperate to catch them but it was hopeless. I watched as they fluttered in the air and then turned into white birds that flew away. The empty space where I stood became an iridescent circle of gold and I saw myself dancing inside the circle with new found space and freedom.
I’m sometimes reminded of this painting when I sit with a directee in spiritual direction. I hear a description of some area of their life where they’re desperately holding onto something they can’t control. I’m alert to the statements that include the word “should” and I sense their yearning for release and freedom. As a spiritual companion, how can I help them release those beliefs that I see are holding them back?
First of all, I need to remember that it’s not my task to help my directee see anything or get anywhere. I need to be aware of my own “should” statements: my directee should accept this and should move beyond that, etc. As I let go of those thoughts (judgments) I’m able to listen more fully with acceptance, compassion, and whole heartedness. I’m able to offer unconditional love that provides a safe space for my directee to find their own dance and new found freedom.
I imagine every spiritual director has moments when they’re tempted to fix or help their directees. If I’m honest, it’s as much about my need for control as my desire to help. So, my work is to recognize what I need to let go of, in order for something new to arrive. Like the figure in the painting, it’s not one or the other. I’m “letting go and receiving” throughout every spiritual direction session. This awareness opens up a larger space for Love.
Julie Elliot is an alum of the Pacific Jubilee Program. She’s also responsible for communications for Pacific Jubilee. If you have questions or comments about this blog, please be in touch at email@example.com
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