The Rev. Howard Kempsell
Spiritual direction provides a ‘sacred space’ in which to become more aware of God presence and activity in one’s life; and that same awareness can be fostered and developed in small groups that are in the midst of discernment about everyday concerns and more momentous decisions. I believe in a comprehensive approach, like that of Thomas Merton who wrote in Spiritual Direction and Meditation:
There is a temptation to think spiritual direction is the guidance of one’s spiritual activities, considered as a small part or department of one’s life. You go to the Spiritual Director to have him take care of your spirit, the way you go to the dentist to have him take care of your teeth, or to the barber to get a haircut. This is completely false. The spiritual director is concerned with the whole person, for the spiritual life is not just the life of the mind, or the affections, or of the “summit of the soul” it is the life of the whole person.
A spiritual director is one who offers “kindly support and wise advice,” one who “enables us to accept more perfectly what we already know and see in an obscure way” and may help us see “things which we have hitherto been unable to see, though they were staring us in the face.” (Adapted from pages 6, 7 & 21)
An Episcopal priest with a doctorate in spiritual direction, I have made pilgrimages to ‘high’ and ‘thin’ places, including Lhasa, Tibet, Machu Picchu, Peru, the Galapagos Islands, the American Southwest and Isle of Iona, Scotland. I am married and have two adult children. I like to fly fish, garden, read, cook, travel and spend time with my family and friends.
I am a layperson in the Episcopal Church, and a formally trained spiritual director, consultant and mediator with forty years of proven ability. Over the years, I have worked primarily with clergy.
I am now semi-retired and live in Decatur, GA with my husband of 49 years, Mike. Together we are the parents of three grown children, in-laws to three, and grandparents of nine.
My approach to Spiritual Direction is to image the story of the road to Emmaus. Two disciples, while “on a journey”, are deep in conversation trying to make sense of recent events in their lives. Jesus joins them. Many times over the years it is clear “the Lord joined in” conversations with my directees and me... as we “walk.”
I ask those I walk with to allow me to say and ask anything that “nudges” me during our discussion. We are both clear that I don’t need an answer to a question or response to my comment from my directee. My task is to put the thought or question on the table and let him or her go with it (or not) wherever it takes them. Honesty, confidentiality and trust are goals in our journey together. Prayer and a candle are included in our time to remind us of our belief in and need for the presence of the Holy Spirit in everything we do.