What is Spiritual Companioning (Direction)?
Spiritual Companioning (Direction) is one person inviting another person to accompany them on their faith journey.
This involves a conversation where:
- the ‘guide’ listens carefully to the ‘pilgrim’ reflecting on his/her daily life experiences
- both pilgrim and guide seek to pay attention to the presence of the Divine in the pilgrim’s life
- both are seeking to nurture the life of the Divine in the pilgrim and to encourage the expression of this in ordinary and practical living
Spiritual companioning is not about being ‘directed’, rather it is about being encouraged to draw closer to the Divine. It is not therapy, counselling, teaching, mentoring or coaching, though there may at times be elements of these.
Spiritual companioning provides a safe and welcoming place to take seriously our growing relationship with the Divine – to be encouraged in this and to become more intentional in it.
Spiritual companioning may help you:
- identify and trust your own experiences of the Divine
- integrate spirituality into your daily life
- discern and make difficult choices
- slow down and ‘smell the roses’
- share your hopes, struggles, and losses
Why the change in terminology from director to companion?
Originally, the term director was used in understanding how the spiritual director was present to direct to a pilgrim to an awareness of the transcendent and inner aspects of their lives experience. It became apparent that pilgrims were sometimes confused by the more current understanding of the term, director. This led to some seeing the role of the spiritual director as being someone who instructed them on how to live or respond to life’s issues. In our current cultural context, the term director refers to either someone who sets the direction of a business or tells actors how to conform to roles in a play or drama. It was felt that the term director as it related to current cultural contexts was misleading in terms of what spiritual directors were engaging in doing. This was reflected in the change of terminology, adopted by Spiritual Directors International (SDI) when they moved to using spiritual companion instead of spiritual direction.
The use of the term spiritual companion also emphasised the coming alongside the pilgrim in accompanying them on their quest to deepen their awareness of their own inner life and the presence of the divine in their life. The focus on the role of companioning reinforces, equality and shared experience central to the role of spiritual companion. For pilgrims coming to a session, understanding that the person they are meeting with will be walking alongside them, rather than telling them what they need to do, or decide seems to reinforce the central purpose of the role.
We acknowledge that the term spiritual director has a long history within the faith traditions. However, to rely on it continuing to express what originally it was intended to express, it was felt that we needed to contextualise it to our current frameworks of understanding. Thus Wellspring has chosen to adopt the term spiritual companion in describing the role in accompanying pilgrims.