I Am a Spiritual Director
“You are a spiritual director. You will always be a spiritual director, because it is now who you are.”
As I stepped over the threshold between the three-year spiritual direction practicum and the new reality of actually “being” a spiritual director, this was the gift my mentor gave me.
“It is now who you are.”
The words seemed to fall from the heavens and resonate and ripple in all directions, but especially deep inside. I still feel it in all of me – body, mind, heart, spirit, and soul.
I’m a spiritual director when I sit with my books and journal, soaking up and puzzling over new ideas from others who have walked this same journey; when I feel my perspective and beliefs shift and shake, sometimes tumbling to the ground and sometimes pushing down roots deeper than ever; when I see my world expanding with colors and textures undreamed of; when I stand on the precipice and murmur “I’m not in Kansas anymore!”
I receive all these things as a spiritual director.
I’m a spiritual director when I’m sitting with other leaders in ministry, dialoguing and building and creating; when I puzzle over the tasks and commitments of the past, struggling to find relevance in the things left behind; when I work together with others, bringing myself as I have been formed by this journey. Whether I’m embracing ministry as dancing with God or struggling to recognize the ego that drives me to the next task or project, what I bring to all these things – at least, when I come with integrity – is myself as a spiritual director.
This is the truth I stand on when I interact with family, receiving and pouring out, being held and holding on; when I work to nurture not just the people around me, but the very concept of family; when I love through the laughter and the pain. As I attempt to wrestle my own identity loose from the form others would like it to have, the form I’ve tried to create for them, the “somebody” I’ve tried so hard to be, the desire and love and passion I feel come from my foundation of being a spiritual director.
I’m a spiritual director filled with joy and wonder and awe, marveling at the gifts I’ve received, and joined to God in a way that was inconceivable to me not so long ago; filled with a desire and love for Him that overflows and is unquenchable at the same time. And when the persistent voice pulls and drags at me, reminding me with complete accuracy that with the very next step this “feeling” may vanish as a puff of smoke, leaving me in the dark…even then, the truth of who I am is unchanged. I am a spiritual director who has learned that the biggest transformations often take place in the dark.
Chris Slabbekoorn received her training in spiritual direction at Dominican Center at Marywood, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This is a 3-year training program that begins with a year of spiritual formation, then a 2-year, Ignatian-based practicum. She graduated in 2012. She says: “I find great joy in the hours that I meet with people to share their journeys. I’m currently in a practicum for spiritual direction in the retreat setting and am finding that a lovely adventure. Because spiritual direction has been such a huge blessing in my own life, I love that I can also be on the giving side of this relationship.”