Karla DraderMTS, BEd, CSD
What is spiritual accompaniment?
Spiritual accompaniment is more commonly called spiritual direction in English. I find the "direction" word can be misleading. In French, it is known as spiritual accompaniment, and to me, this describes the work more accurately. It is a ministry of hospitality and deep listening. Rather than giving advice or telling you what God is saying, my role is to walk with you - to hold space for you to listen to God. Trusting that God has always been at work in your life, together we seek to discover the things God is bringing to your attention - a kind of treasure hunt! As we focus on God, and watch for the movements of the Holy Spirit, we'll both grow in awareness and intimacy with God.
In my own life, receiving spiritual direction has nurtured my capacity to notice God's voice, work, and invitations, which has led to greater freedom, groundedness and joy.
God speaks in many different ways - let's listen together.
What can I expect in a spiritual direction/accompaniment session?
I protect your confidentiality, following ethical expectations as a Certified Spiritual Director.
The format is flexible, but we would normally start with prayer, a short reading and time of silence.
You may want to come prepared with a situation or a question from your life in which you sense God is at work (areas of strong emotions or bewilderment are great places to look!). We may stay with that issue for the session, or it may lead to other things. God is a Master Weaver; often as we pray and talk, God brings other threads to the forefront. We watch and listen together - without judgment - for how God is present.
Faithfulness for me is to hold safe space for you to meet with God. I don’t have a specific plan or direction for you. I pray for you and try to discern where God wants to take our conversation so you can sense God’s presence and hear God’s word to you.
Faithfulness for you is openness - to notice God’s work in your heart and life and respond to God’s nudges and invitations, no matter where they lead. Listen to God and yourself, and share what you feel safe to share. There’s no pressure to say, do, or be anything other than that.
How is this different from counseling?
There is some overlap between spiritual direction and other forms of spiritual companionship. While we will undoubtedly talk about painful memories, relationships, desires for change, etc, our goal is to stay present to what God is saying to you now about your perception of God and of yourself. Counseling and therapy are great companions to spiritual direction and are highly recommended as needed. In spiritual direction, we follow God's agenda as well as we can. As we seek God first, other things tend to fall into place. We were made to centre our lives on God, so the more this happens, the more the unhelpful things fall away, and we come to see and know ourselves, because our True Self is less obscured by our own attempts to do better and try harder. So, healing may result, you may get a sense of next steps in a situation, but these are not our primary goal or focus, and are not guaranteed.
Janet Bakke's chart (below) may help bring clarity to what it is we are doing together.
"I appreciated her approach - a gentle empathetic presence with a strong rootedness in Jesus and this facilitated some very important moments of connecting with God."
"I was very thankful for her calmness, and the sense that she wasn't there to tell me what to do, but just to accompany me. I especially appreciated her attitude of curiosity and delight."
"My personality doesn’t lend itself to sharing openly until I trust someone deeply. It was easy to develop that level of trust because I felt like Karla was truly listening."
"Karla ... responded to what I said with positive words and never forced herself (or me) to say anything. We would often wait upon God’s Spirit to speak into the situation and go from there. I felt listened to, loved, cared for, supported and respected. I also knew that what was said between us was sacred and would go no further than the four walls that surrounded us. That means a great deal."
"I would get in my car afterwards, take a deep breath and say, I feel so much better! "
"Throughout our sessions, she helped me gain a better understanding on my view of God and his view of myself. I saw a shift in my perception."
"I have become much more sensitive to what the Spirit of God might be saying to me and through me to others. This has been an exciting journey and one that doesn’t tire me out. I pray more and with greater purpose. I find great joy in talking to God."
"Invitation & Longing"
In a session, we look together at your life - the big story, and the small, particular details. We notice longings and desires surfacing inside. We look at God, wondering how, in the big story of Love, God might be reaching down to you. Or might God be reaching up from within?