Spiritual direction is the ministry of holy listening.  The intent of spiritual direction is to be non-judgmentally present to the movement of Spirit in a person’s life.  The directee and director are listening together to Spirit's voice in the everyday prayer and events in a directee's life, in the suffering and in the joy.  Spiritual direction is not about solving a problem or giving advice.  It is not counseling.  There is a crucial difference.  Counseling is a helping profession.  People come to counseling to receive assistance with an issue.  In contrast, spiritual direction is a prayer ministry.  In spiritual direction, the director and directee join together in prayer by turning an attentive gaze toward Spirit in the life of the directee.  It is the powerful art of attention.  

This attention includes all aspects of life, because there is no place where Spirit is not.  So although the director holds the space of “There is nothing to solve,” the session is still the environment where the directee shares, not only about his prayer life, but also what he is experiencing in the present.  The spiritual direction session gives the space for the directee to verbalize his experience.  As the director mirrors back what has been said, then the directee can hear it in a new way.  No three-step plan is needed once the emotions and movements of Spirit have been named.  The way to proceed becomes obvious in its Divine Inspiration.

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        This attention includes all aspects of life, because there is no place where Spirit is not.  So although the director holds the space of “There is nothing to solve,” the session is still the environment where the directee shares, not only about his prayer life, but also what he is experiencing in the present.  The spiritual direction session gives the space for the directee to verbalize his experience.  As the director mirrors back what has been said, then the directee can hear it in a new way.  No three-step plan is needed once the emotions and movements of Spirit have been named.  The way to proceed becomes obvious in its Divine Inspiration.

One of my mentors, Shirley Thibodeaux, has a practical and empowering view of what this ministry is all about.  She described it this way, "Spiritual direction is having someone in your life to help you tend to your soul.  We have professionals who help us tend to other parts of ourselves, such as the dentist for our teeth, the hairdresser for our hair, the cardiologist for our heart, etc.  The spiritual dimension of us needs to be taken care of as well.  It needs to be fed, nourished, mended, healed, transformed, etc.  The spiritual director is there to provide the atmosphere for these things to occur.  We hear Spirit saying in the book of Genesis that it is not good for man to be alone.  To have someone to accompany you on this spiritual journey is so important and such a privilege.  You’re not at it alone."

        My passionate prayer as a spiritual director is that my directee will feel deeply heard.  My directee is Jesus in disguise, the hungry and thirsty one coming to be nourished.  She is my beloved, in whom I am well-pleased.  This quality of presence is what I have experienced with my spiritual directors, and what led me in large part to apply to The Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation's Spiritual Guidance program.  I wanted to be a vehicle for the love of Spirit for others in the way that my directors have been that light for me.

        I enter the spiritual direction relationship, whether as guide or directee, knowing that the Holy Spirit is the true director and believing that Spirit plants Spirit's holy desires in our hearts.  I am reminded of a passage on prayer by my favorite mystic, Julian of Norwich (c. 1342 – c. 1416 AD), a 15th century anchoress.  As an anchoress, Julian was a hermit who completely devoted herself to prayer and contemplation.  She withdrew from society and lived in an anchorhold, which is a small room built into the side of a church.  There she listened to visitors who sought her counsel.  At the age of 30, she experienced 16 visions of the love of Spirit during a life-threatening illness.  She illuminated these in her book, Revelations of Divine Love.  Julian wrote, "Our Lord suddenly brought all this to my mind and revealed these words to me: 'I am the ground of your praying.  First, it is my will that you have something, and then I make you want it too; then I make you beseech me for it--and you do beseech me.  So how could you not have what you ask for?'”  (Chpt. 41)

        With the understanding that our desires are originating from Spirit's own heart, discernment involves listening deeply to what the Holy Spirit has to say in the directee.  We wait on Spirit to reveal Spirit's Self.  We listen deeply for what is already there.  Together we ask, "Holy Spirit, what is your prayer in this person today?"

In her presentation at our first Shalem residency, Sr. Rosemary Dougherty described discernment as "a habit of living authentically" and "living in love."  When I hear someone from a place of authenticity and love, I can ask, "How does this sit with who I experience this directee to be in Love?" and, "If the directee follows this to it's end, what is the fruit?"  Together we can explore where the areas of freedom and unfreedom exist for the directee.  

         Sr. Rosemary suggested that in those places that the directee is most in touch with his best self, peace is the fruit.  Confusion is the fruit of the enemy of the best self.  As the directee grows in self-knowledge, he will know what authenticity and freedom feel like.  And as authenticity and freedom are lived, the directee can listen to the Teacher within with confidence.  The question then changes from, "What should I do?" to, "What do I really want to do?"

        The spiritual direction relationship offers a gateway to the Divine Presence in a directee's life.  The words of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 11:28 sum up the reality of what this ministry offers, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."  It is through this time of conscious attention to Spirit's voice within, that I have heard Jesus assuring me, "Peace I leave with you.  My own peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Do not let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

        Ani works by donation only, and asks for a minimum $20 love-offering.  However, Ani will work with you if you are not able to give an offering.  When making your donation, consider the amount of time spent in the session.  Ani has received donations ranging from $40 to $150 for her time and experience.

        Ani accepts payment through PayPal, by check, and cash.  Checks should be made out to “Andrea Vidrine.”