Expanding our awareness of God through group spiritual direction

Debra Sutter is a pastor at First Mennonite in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, as well as a spiritual director. She lives with her husband Tom in Urbana and enjoys making music, reading, walking in the prairie and visiting their two adult children, Aaron and Sarah, wherever they are around the world. Debra is a member of the Mennonite Spiritual Directors Network.

We are all unique, and we see and approach God in different ways. The joy of group spiritual direction is that we share together as we listen for God and notice God in a variety of ways.

As we begin a spiritual direction group meeting with Lectio Divina, we each share the particular part of a passage to which we are drawn. As we question what the passage means for us today, we help each other understand more clearly, and often, we each take away something a little different, something that relates to our experiences or current life circumstances. Likewise, as we share the joys and concerns of our lives, we reflect back many ways that we see God in the events and questions of our lives.

So whether we hear a story of illness, interactions with family, a joyful vacation, a struggle in how one is relating to God, or a difficult life decision, we are encouraged by how others see God in the scenario:

“I see God in your patient care for your family member, or in what you are offering to others.”

“I see God in making you aware of the car issue before it caused harm.”

“I see God in the beauty of nature and times of rest.”

“Perhaps God is using these feelings of discontent, or this seeming coincidence of events to encourage you to consider a different direction?

“I see God in introducing you to people who helped you be open to a different image of God.“

And more often than you might expect, “I see God in how your story relates to the scripture we reflected on today.”

As a spiritual director, I am blessed by seeing God’s work in me and in others over time.

As a leader of spiritual direction groups, I am blessed not only by seeing God work in the lives of people, but also by the many facets of the wisdom of God that come through others.

Through spiritual direction groups, we see God working in the process, not only in the outcome of various life circumstances. When we leave our group times together, I am encouraged that God is indeed working in individuals and in our world, and I am thankful for the community of folks who walk together with encouragement, new ways of noticing God, and trust in God’s abiding presence.