Recently a group of 75 Mennonite spiritual directors from across the United States and beyond met for a three-day retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Though the group of spiritual directors meets every six years as a larger body, smaller regional retreats are held every two years to provide learning, inspiration and accountability.
The theme for the 2018 retreat was “Attending to Love: Within and Without.” With presentations offered by Richard Rohr, Franciscan priest and director of the Center for Action and Contemplation, and Dr. Angela Reed, professor of Practical Theology and director of Spiritual Formation at Truett Seminary, spiritual directors were encouraged to delve into the meaning and experience of Jesus’ call to love as a foundation for spiritual direction ministry, both with individuals and congregations.
On her way home from the retreat, Dolores Nice-Siegenthaler found herself engaging in the practice of on-the-go spiritual direction. Dolores holds a master of divinity and a Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction. She is from Oakland, California, where she lives out her vocation as a spiritual director and writer. She is a member of First Mennonite Church of San Francisco.
When Cleopas and his friend looked back on the experience of walking with the then unknown stranger, they remember, “Did not our hearts burn within us?” (Luke 24: 32)
Telling my Lyft driver that I was in her town for a gathering of spiritual directors prompts the question, “What is spiritual direction?”
Describing to her the kind of companionship where we facilitate conversations around our deepest questions and longings, namely our desire to be connected with God, seems to unleash a flood of desires in my navigator. Suddenly we are in that sacred space, and I listen to my driver tell about a mystical experience she has had … and I ask questions that point toward the essence of the experience. All too soon we are at the airport, and I ask my driver if I can say a prayer. She says, “Yes,” and I give thanks for this beloved child of God and the ways the Holy Spirit moves in and through her.
How my heart burns as I remember the way the Holy Spirit worked through a short encounter in a car, making two unknowns into intimate strangers, one sharing from the depths of her heart and one listening and assisting in finding ways to go more deeply into that experience.