It is hard to describe how beautifully this 2-year course in Spiritual Direction has been crafted. Intuitively, Cathy and Gillian (the instructors) have created a course that takes into account best practices. They have built a relationship with each individual in the course, built community with the group, developed a rich curriculum, and invited and celebrated diversity; they have high and clear expectations while also allowing and inviting individual differences. Cathy and Gillian are creative, out-of-the-box thinkers; they are also supportive, loving, vulnerable, and open to change.
The course is well designed while being flexible and responsive to the learners and topics and questions that arise. Some highlights for me have been:
COMMUNITY: this year because of COVID, all of our gatherings have been on-line which is a much more difficult way to build community. However, through two monthly meetings, individual pair meetings, an on-line format for comments and discussion the instructors have built a community of trust.
CLASSES: Cathy and Gillian use a variety of methods and strategies that make the classes engaging, meaningful and interactive: meditations and check-in, presentations, large and small group discussions, break-out rooms where we practice in triads, question and answer periods, gratitudes, readings, blessings, songs, movement, and breaks. These classes are rich and meaningful and provide many opportunities to understand the content and to develop relationships. In addition, when opportunities arise – optional gatherings have been offered to deepen the work.
THEMES/LEARNINGS: The course is developed around themes that are important in becoming Spiritual Directors. Work with these themes include readings, guest speakers, large group, small group and pair discussions, weekly reflections, peer and instructor feedback in areas we need to know and understand and think about, e.g., the art of listening, Christian mystics, dark night of the soul, dreamwork, how to be present, ask questions, be attentive, listen for our own responses and reactions. Each month as we explore a topic, we are required to do inner work, reflect, respond, delve deeply, look at our shadows, and trust in the Spirit.
GIFTS AND STRENGTHS: The instructors honour and encourage individual gifts and strengths. We are invited to offer our gifts and strengths to the group, to express ourselves in our unique and creative ways and to honour that in each other.
PRACTICE and SUPERVISION: Training and supervision has been a gradual and non-threatening process; first practicing with each other without having to respond and then slowly moving to questions and wonders. Supervision is collaborative and supportive.
After spending many years involved in staff development in the school system, I feel so fortunate to be in a course that is so thoughtfully planned and delivered. I am continually excited and inspired by the content, the community of learners, and the instructors. I feel challenged and supported as I learn to trust more fully in the Spirit and examine the tender and vulnerable places in myself.
– Judith King, educator, M.Ed., M.A.