Saturday, January 26, 2008

Spiritual Direction and the Language of Landscapes

For those seeking assistance in discerning God’s involvement in their life, spiritual direction is a wonderful path. Spiritual directors are different from counselors; they don’t offer therapy but rather active listening, discernment, and thoughtful questions. My spiritual director listens deeply, let’s me process the intersection of God’s story and my own, and asks provocative questions that help me reflect. She adds rich wisdom along with her supportive presence.

I’ve been thinking about the role of spiritual direction and the landscape metaphor that I use in my book, The Wide Open Spaces of God. In my book, I describe nine different landscapes that portray periods of time in our life journey. Each landscape provides language and a framework for the reader to think about and reflect on their life; past, present and future. The language is rich and sensory; it describes the way life feels when you trek through that particular terrain.

The following is a condensation of the language in each chapter of my book.
• Thoughtfully read each summary.
• Toward which are you most drawn? How might God be inviting you toward this landscape?
• Which one is most descriptive of your life right now? How might God want to use this particular terrain to shape your life and transform you?

The Desert: A time when life feels bleak, stark, barren, dry, brittle, and empty.

The Promised Land: A time when life feels fitting, full, rich, satisfying, abundant and fruitful.

The Mountain of God: A time when life feels curious, confusing, questioning, disturbing, and disillusioning,

The Valley of Darkness: A time when life feels dark, depressing, hopeless and disorienting.

The Green Pastures: A time when life feels restful, peaceful, still, serene, restoring and quiet.

The Land of Exile: A time when life feels disappointing, grinding, ill-fitting, dissatisfying and sad.

The Deep Waters: A time when life feels overwhelming, intimidating, oppressive, helpless, and desperate.

The Land Between: A time when life feels tenuous, stretching, hopeful and uncertain.

The Wide Open Spaces: A time when life feels exciting, adventurous, challenging, scary, big and free.