On speaking our truth in spiritual direction

We must be perfectly open and simple, without prejudices and without artificial theories about ourselves. We must learn to speak according to our own inner truth, as far as we can perceive it. We must learn to say what we really mean in the depths of our soul, not what we think we are expected to say, not what somebody else has just said. And we must be prepared to take responsibility for our desires, and accept the consequences…

True simplicity implies love and trust – it does not expect to be derided and rejected, any more than it expects to be admired and praised. It simply hopes to be accepted on its own terms. This is the kind of atmosphere which a good director tries to produce: an atmosphere of confidence and friendliness in which the [directee] can say anything that is on his [or her] mind with the assurance that it will be dealt with frankly and honestly… Anything he or she says that is genuine, that really comes from the heart, will be understood and accepted by a wise director. Such real, genuine aspiration of the heart are sometimes very important indications of the will of God for that soul – and sometimes they must be sacrificed.

This gives us a clue to what the director is really seeking to find out from us. He does not merely want to know our problems, our difficulties, our secrets. And that is why one should not think that a direction session that does not tackle a problem has not been a success. The director wants to know our inmost self, our real self. He wants to know us not as we are in the eyes of men, or even as we are in our own eyes, but as we are in the eyes of God. He wants to know the inmost truth of our vocation, the action of grace in our souls. His direction is, in reality, nothing more than a way of leading us to see and obey our real Director – the [Spirit of the Divine], hidden in the depths of our soul. We must never for get that in reality we are not directed and taught by men, and that if we need human “direction” it is only because we cannot, without man’s help, come into contact with that “anointing (of the Spirit) which teaches us all things.” (1 John 2:20)

Thomas MertonSpiritual Direction & Meditation

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