The ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) has a new presiding bishop – and for the first time, a female was elected. (The Episcopal church elected their first female presiding Bishop in 2009, my Episcopal sistren are quick to point out.) I have more to say about gender and religion (perhaps my next blog?) but today, my thoughts are swirling in a different direction.
In an interview with Time Magazine, Elizabeth Eaton (the new ELCA presiding bishop) was asked:
I hear you have a spiritual director. What is your process of spiritual direction, and how has it shaped you?
“There are people now who are spiritual and not religious. I would characterize myself as religious but not spiritual. I am a faithful person, but taking a closer look at my relationship with God in a more intentional way was something that gave me the willies sometimes. So I thought, By golly, if I really believe what I preach, then I can’t do this on my own. If everyone of us depends utterly on God, maybe I need to start finding a way to have a discussion about that with God, and I thought, I might need someone to help me dial into the God frequency.
..I contacted <a spiritual director> and she said, “O.K. I want to be clear: I am not a psychologist, I am not a therapist, all I am is someone who can be your companion while you are having your conversation with God, and I will eavesdrop on your conversation and help you to stay honest in that.” We have been doing that for the past year or so, and it has made a huge difference.”‘
I LOVE the response given by her spiritual director! That’s exactly it. As a holy listener, I’m given permission to eavesdrop on conversations with God, to provide accountability, and sometimes, direction. But mostly, I’m there to be a companion, because it’s lonely to go it alone.
Curious about holy listening/spiritual direction? Wholly Listening