In the book Prayer: 40 Days of Practice, I take a swing at unpacking the word “spiritual;” not an effort to redefine the word for all users, but an effort to expand its application to meet my own experience and expectation. 

I do so by way of a kind of allegory; one in which a young man visits a religious guide of some kind, I think I call him a priest in the actual chapter, and shares that something feels wrong in his connection with The Divine. He describes it as a kind of pain in his chest; one he experiences most keenly at night when he lays down to reflect on his day. 

After describing the discomfort in some detail, the young man expects a particular kind of “spiritual” response from his priest friend. But that priest friend reaches into his bag to retrieve an antacid, saying “Son, you have heartburn.”

My hope is that the story expands a readers’ take on what it means to think of themselves spiritually. That, instead of “spiritual” matters being those that are disembodied and separate from financial, social, physical, mental, or emotional ones, thinking spiritually is about seeing all those aspects of one’s existence as integrated, sacred, and attended to by The One Who Holds All Things Together. 

And while the story presents a bit more prescriptive role from the priest, that expanded expectation regarding what is “spiritual” is part of the work of spiritual direction. 

And spiritual direction, as a practice and a profession, deserves a whole long look before we go simply and easily defining it. If living spiritually has to do with considering every square inch of my life worth the attention of God, then learning to practice that kind of life takes a very nuanced, very detailed, and (dare I say) very personal help. 

That has been the role of spiritual direction for me and one I have longed to play in the lives of others. 

I am currently apprenticed to Tara Owens who is a spiritual director and the founder of Man Cara Ministries. Her wisdom and experience have been on the revolutionary side of enriching for me and because I know my attempts at passing along the things (and the ways) I’ve come to see by way of her guidance, I visited her in Colorado Springs so that I could pass along our conversation. 

I think you’ll dig it. 

Check it out. 

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