Spiritual Direction Has Left the Building

Spiritual direction can happen anywhere now
1200 x 628 - Faith+Leader blog article featured image template-6

As her face appeared on the screen I asked, “Where are you calling from?” 

“The Target parking lot,” she replied, as she cracked her window and unclipped her seatbelt to begin our moment of breathing and silence. 

Before COVID-19, ministry leaders would come to my office for spiritual direction. Picture almost any suburban office building, with its hushed corridors and its random collection of lawyers, title companies, financial planners, and dentists, and you get the idea. Our spiritual direction sessions were well bordered, with the demands of church, family, and the world clearly outside the doors of my office. Time to listen to God and wonder about the movement of the Holy Spirit was relegated to my comfy mismatched chairs without any of the distractions of daily life. But then things changed. Because of the pandemic, and thanks to Zoom, spiritual direction has left the office and taken place in all kinds of locations—cabins, kitchen tables, living room couches, and my personal favorite, cars. 

Around Pentecost Sunday a pastor zoomed in for our time from the Target parking lot in between the other demands of her day. We took time to breathe, and then, screen to screen we listened again to the Pentecost story. We know this story. Wind, flames, confusion. The coming of the promised Holy Spirit wasn’t tame, predictable, or comfortable. It was disturbing, upsetting routines and assumptions as it swept through the gathered community. With the touch of a flame, ears were opened to the experience of those previously misunderstood and eyes were opened in bewilderment. 

The words, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,” felt different as we meditated on them while nearby shoppers returned to their cars, filling their trunks with toilet paper and groceries, unaware of the story of wind and flame being read in the next parked car. Sitting with the new experience of hearing the Pentecost story in the car, this pastor and I became acutely aware of how powerful it is to be dislocated and bewildered and how it affects our listening.  

As the church we have been dislocated and bewildered. Our routines and assumptions have been upended as we constantly ask, “What does this mean? What does church look like as a hybrid community? What does church look like when we are living in-between grief and hope? What does church look like when our youngest aren’t vaccinated and our vaccinated eldest long to see their young friends? What does church look like when are faced with the multiple pandemics of virus, racism, and climate change, and we don’t all agree on the path forward?” 

While some of these questions are unique to this particular time, the question of how we listen to the Holy Spirit’s activity isn’t new. The church has been wind swept by the Spirit from the very beginning, constantly nudged to keep listening in new ways. As my clients and I listen to the Spirit in new places, we wonder if maybe we got too comfortable in our sanctuaries, our routines, and unexamined assumptions. 

I’m hesitant to go back to my office, not because of COVID-19 concerns, but because the dislocation has been so eye opening. As we start to create a new normal for ourselves and our congregations, I don’t necessarily want to feel less bewildered (ok, maybe just a little) because this time outside of the boundaries has given us new ways of listening to what the Holy Spirit is up to. It seems so fitting to listen for the unpredictable Spirit in unpredictable places.

Your turn

As we enter into a new normal, or at least tiptoe toward it, I wonder how we might incorporate dislocated listening skills into our navigation process. 

Could we take church council meetings to the park, or read devotions in the doctor’s waiting room, or pray together in the driveway, sing on the beach, or engage in spiritual direction in the car? 

Maybe like that first wind swept gathering of Pentecost we let being bewildered open our ears and eyes, and guide us into a new day. 

No results found.

Ruth Sorenson-Prokosch

Ruth Sorenson-Prokosch

See Profile

Want to Join the Conversation?

Members with an account on our website have commenting privileges! If you want to be a part of it, create your FREE account now.

You Might Also Enjoy...

No results found.

Come to work with us

Want to learn about the container experience and start working in a shared place

We make use of cookies on this website to help it work better for you. Cookies give you a more personalized experience, and provide analytics that allow us to serve our users better. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the terms outlined in our privacy policy.