For many years one of the primary metaphors I use in spiritual direction training has been ‘holding the space’. Nonetheless, I was personally reminded of the importance of this a few days ago.
Whilst I have given dozens of quiet mornings and quiet days over the last several years, I haven’t attended very many. On Saturday I attended a quiet day led by a couple in our parish. My attendance was mostly spurred on by the fact that the day had been an idea hatched between my editor and I.
It was a most remarkable day for me. Something that has been building in me for several months finally found expression. But I know that I would not have found that outlet had it not been for caring containment of the quiet day leaders. Had I taken myself off for the day on my own (something very easy for me to do) I would not have risked venturing into the space. Precisely because I knew the space was contained and that I was ‘held’, I had the freedom to explore.
I have been tremendously blessed in my spiritual directors over the years – I see now, in a new way, the way they have assisted my exploration. It also makes me realise why I have been hesitant to take my own retreat in the absence of any direction. Maybe one day I will have the capacity to do a ‘self-directed’ retreat. But I know beyond all doubt – I am not there yet!