This past Saturday morning, May 22, the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids and the Dominican Center Spiritual Direction Ministry celebrated six newly certified spiritual directors upon their recent completion of the 2-year Practicum experience. They were invited to a special ministry blessing joined by the community of spiritual directors who make their home at Dominican Center. Sister Diane Zerfas OP invited them to share key insights they noticed as participants in the formation program. One insight, in particular, seemed to echo among their answers: Despite meeting in a virtual format this past year there were gifts of presence and sacred bonding of community. They noticed a deeper capacity to access interior peace as the outside world was experiencing chaos, and this collective sense of peace seemed to help ground their contemplative practices in a profound way.
A Dominican blessing of gratitude was extended to the entire community of spiritual directors present for the virtual gathering. Sisters Diane, Ann Walters OP and Carmelita Switzer OP helped welcome them into our sacred community along with Amanda Dobson, Andy Rebollar, and myself, spiritual directors and apprentices to the Sisters.
Sister Ann shared a beautiful reflection on many experiences in her personal ministry and how they have informed and transformed her to a realization that “it is our innate longing to be a divine mirror.” In the book Universal Christ, the poem The Divine Mirror states, “A mirror receives and reflects back what it sees. It does not judge, adjust, or write commentary. We are the ones who do that. A mirror simply reveals and invites responsibility.” Mechthild’s insight suggests to us that God’s longing evokes and fuels our own, and those longings are initiated by God.
God, you are my lover,
My flowing steam,
And I am your reflection.
~ Mechthild of Magdeburg
“The Divine Mirror is a wonderful description of what we call the ministry of spiritual direction. As we walk as the Divine Mirror of love, may each of us know the experience of trusting the wind on our wings in our practice of the art of deep listening," said Sister Ann.
This year has yielded both challenges and gifts in ways we as spiritual directors practice. We have been dedicated to preserving a presence for our directees so that they feel supported while finding creative ways to remain open to new ways the spirit invites us forward.
The Sisters continue to inspire and lead through their willingness to be relevant and resourceful as they serve to advance their mission with hospitable hearts. We have all clearly been stretched by the events of this past year. There has been a collapse of ordinary life, exposure of fear-infused wounds, and a societal lesson in letting go. In reflecting on the gifts of witnessing new directors be welcomed into the Dominican family I remain fastened to the hope of God’s divine light shining to restore our world with the spirit of love.
Dominican Center Marywood at Aquinas College is a ministry of Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids.