Dayspring spiritual direction training – “kindly led, gently challenged, firmly supported and encouraged”
Bede Griffiths spoke of contemplation as:
“Awakening to the presence of God in the human heart and in the universe which is around us… knowledge by love.”
It is often difficult to define what is being done during training as a spiritual director. Dayspring has a list of objectives for tuition in the Graduate Diploma in Spiritual Direction, but Griffiths comments remind me of the goal of the contemplative approach taken by the program: to awaken the reality of God’s presence in each intern’s heart as an active and intuitive guide, to enhance seeing God in all that surrounds us and to be with others in love.
In my experience of the recent residential held for the current group of Dayspring interns, I had first-hand experience of observing the Spirit of God at work moving hearts, opening souls and creating a deep love for others in those who God calls to this ministry.
Our week together – living, working and being community – presented challenges for all of us. Our third residential for the course had two predominant themes: a focus on Interfaith perspectives and raising personal awareness of who we are when we come to sit with others. The interfaith content of the coursework presents a small cameo of material against which interns are encouraged to find their own boundaries and ‘growing edges.’ The goal is to offer a canvas against which each person can assess their own position according to their tradition and faith-stance. It gives a small opportunity to confront challenges and to find what enables a relaxed, reflexive position for each person, allowing a non-defended approach to different and/or unfamiliar faith orientations of directees.
Similarly, current ideas on personal and spiritual growth, and an awareness of the significance of one’s life history created a different canvas. In this case, the trust and care for one another in the group is paramount in allowing each to receive and consider what the material meant in their life journey. We witnessed the deep intimate stirrings of the Spirit supporting this journey and the loving presence of God gently attending the hearts of each one as they embraced what was being presented.
The other significant portion of the week was spent in practicum, where interns sit with one another as director and directee under supervision. These may be difficult experiences but often yield the most fruit in terms of grounded learning.
One intern spoke of her experience of the course to date:
“I would describe myself as not particularly academic and not even a particularly theological person. So I wondered if and how I would manage the GDSD course and the course work.
After 15 months into the course – my experience is that I have been able to meet various requirements and accomplish what was required.
The course includes a significant experiential component – that aspect appealed to me from the beginning and has worked well for me. Being able to draw on my lived experience of God / Spirit is stimulating and affirming. I feel I have been – at various points along this journey – kindly led, gently challenged, firmly supported and encouraged, almost like being loved into existence.
The safe supportive environment has allowed me to stretch and grow in my spiritualty and my personal relationships. I feel better prepared to make real my desire to serve God in the world.”
I have had the privilege of seeing six groups of interns travel this journey, and I am still amazed by the faithfulness of God to journey alongside people who have had the courage to respond to the calling. This is not simply a trust in a belief; we observe the Spirit’s movement shaping interns, loving them into being as they develop attentive ears and sensitive hearts. It is a deeply moving experience.
Another intern reflects on his experience:
“I began the course in fear and trepidation thinking all depended on me. Now in my third semester I still have the occasional flutters of fear and trepidation but not because it depends on me, for I now know and have experienced that it is primarily the work of the Holy Spirit; my flutters are more to do with the experience of being on holy ground when I sit and accompany others on their spiritual journey. It is such a honour, privilege and grace to be called to this ministry. And we are blessed to have such a course here in Perth presented by such capable and compassionate people.”
The next course for the Graduate Diploma in Spiritual Direction will commence in February 2017 in Perth and Bunbury, Western Australia. It is a 2 year course structured around 3 week-long residentials (Semesters 1-3), one weekend residential (Semester 4) and a one Thursday session per month.
More information and application form is available here or by email from the office. Applications for the 2017 course have now closed.
A small travel scholarship is available for those wishing to join the course from country regions or interstate.
– Beth Roberton, Dean of Studies